Slate is midway through what is threatened to be a two-week series on income inequality in America, just in time for the controversial announcement that the President will not try to solve the economy by giving more money to rich people. Timothy Noah looks at several putative dangers to America’s middle class, including immigration, racism/sexism, and computers, none of which accounts for the growing gap between rich and poor in the United States. That gap is enormous. Currently, the wealthiest 1% of Americans take home 24% of the national income. Between 1980 and 2005, more than 80% of the nation’s considerable increase in earnings went to that 1%. To put that in perspective, back in 1915—the era of the Carnegies, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, as well as a generation of non name-brand robber barons—the top 1% only got 18%. Economically, ours is a less equal America than that of our great grandparents.
I think I speak for all of us when I say goddammit, dude. An unnamed “US official” has confirmed that Anwar Al-Awlaki, alleged terrorist and certain dickhead, is on the list of people whom the CIA is allowed to kill. If, like me, you have become momentarily distracted by the thought of how awesome and creepy such a list is—hey, CIA operatives, if you’re having a panini or whatever and you happen to see Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, go ahead and stab him in the face—allow me to bring you back to sobriety by pointing out that Al-Awlaki is an American citizen. He’s also believed to occupy a significant leadership position in Al Qaeda, a probably true fact that I learned from reading an article in the Washington Post. At the time, that same article said that Al-Awlaki was “thought to have been killed”—an assessment that, coming as it did from the same military and civilian intelligence sources that decided he was a high-ranking Al Qaeda officer in the first place, casts a little doubt on the “Anwar Al-Awlaki is a terrorist so it’s okay if we whack him” argument. God forbid he’s just an asshole, because he’s an American asshole, and we have rules.