The graph doesn't show "old data." It shows an aggregate of data 15 years demonstrating that the top 400 wealthiest Americans saw their incomes rise by 476%. Given that Wall Street bonuses exploded in 2009, I'm actually fairly confident that once the numbers have been crunched for 2008 and 2009, you'll see an even bigger increase.
And you'd be wrong - but I'd be willing to entertain a bet
: "Income Gap Shrinks in Slump at the Expense of the Wealthy" (September 10, 2009): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125254156520197777.html
. Relevant passage: "The top 1%'s share appears to be falling fast. Mr. Saez and other economists expect income going to the top 1% of taxpayers -- currently, those with about $400,000 a year -- will drop to somewhere between 15% and 19% of all income by 2010. That still would leave income distribution more top-heavy in the U.S. than in many other countries.
One early indication: Median chief-executive pay at companies in the S&P 500 fell 15% in 2008 (to $7.3 million), according to University of Southern California pay expert Kevin Murphy.
"Based on past experience, it looks like inequality will go down and change the long-term trend of America becoming a less egalitarian society," says Ariell Reshef, a University of Virginia economist and another student of the equality issue."
The Internet was not created by an individual or business but by the government and universities. Certainly, technologies from Microsoft, Apple and others have made the Internet a much richer experience, but the basic technology was developed with tax dollars, not private money. In fact, many of the technologies, drugs, and other things that have made people incredibly rich were funded in part by the government. Pharmaceuticals are the most egregious example, where through grants for basic research and other investments, the government has played a significant role in drugs that have made a few people very, very rich.
What Ablian0 said.
Is regulations making it harder to start a small business? Maybe. What I'm reading is that the biggest hurdle to start or expand a small business is the lack of available capital because the banks we bailed out are refusing to lend. In fact, the Bush administration went on a stunning spree of deregulation. Where did that get us? Are Americans better off? Are small businesses better off? I don't think so.
The data suggests that the issue as espoused by small businesses is the lack of aggregate demand - though regulation plays a role here too as well. As for the stunning spree of deregulation? Sorry, no dice there either - you can't tie rolling back Glass Steagall to this mess - but you could probably tie the Community Development Act regulation as spurring the securitization of sub prime.
Also on the issue of lending (http://www.nfib.com/tabid/565/Default.aspx?cmsid=50806
): "51 percent of respondents cited slow or declining sales as their principle problem. Only 8 percent cited access to credit. Although taxes and regulations weren’t choices, the second largest problem (21 percent) cited by respondents was “the unpredictability of business conditions [...] The second most cited immediate problem (21%) is the unpredictability of business conditions. Virtually the same level (23%) of concern with predictability was expressed one year ago. Data produced elsewhere suggest that the nature of unpredictability (certainty) may be shifting somewhat from economic to political concerns, such as new taxes. Regardless of its cause however, the risk to investment rises during periods of unpredictability, making investment less likely to occur at that time. Confidence matters. Small Business Economic Trends, for example, shows capital investment over the last several months bouncing around record low levels and staying there."
Small businesses have slowing and falling sales (probably slower repayments) - but you can't blame that on regulation of banks. This is a legitimate risk. More importantly - it's the regulatory uncertainty and taxation that is forcing companies to defer decisions slowing the pace of business - at least according to small businesses themselves.
All that said, I would agree with you that many politicians are, in fact, self-serving idiots.
If that's the case, why would you entrust government - be they Democrats or Republicans to spend increasing amounts of money giving them increasing amounts of power to regulate?