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What's the end game?

How divided can our economy become before we see rioting in our own streets?
 
 
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The adjusted fourth quarter economic stats came out last week. There's much to consider.

GDP grew by 5.2 percent. That's the headline -- a booming economy!

Corporate profits increased by 16.4 percent in 2005, up four points from 2004. Things are going gang-busters!

Meanwhile, personal savings were a net negative of $44 billion in February, a bit better than the negative $51 billion in January.

The New York Times reports that more and more people are now living in their cars:

The number of "mobile homeless," as they are often called, tends to climb whenever the cost of housing outpaces wages, Dr. [Kim Hopper, a researcher on homelessness] said. Last year was the first year on record, according to an annual study conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, that a full-time worker at minimum wage could not afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country at average market rates.

And the WaPo tops it off with this comforting thought:

Since 2000 the number of American children living in poverty has risen 12 percent -- to 13 million. The initial growth was due to the economic downturn. But since then, despite the ongoing expansion, the poverty rate for children on this side of the pond keeps rising, largely because the benefits of the recovery have flowed so disproportionately to families at the top of the income scale.

I am a dirty, rotten socialist for even bringing these numbers together for your consideration.

And so this pattern of soaring profits in the midst of so much real pain for working people -- a pattern that has become so entrenched in recent years -- continues. And I have to ask: what's the end-game here?

Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer .