“The 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the ‘lower’ 150 million Americans put together.”
from Edward Fullbrook
The title’s sentence comes from the latest issue of the English edition of Der Spiegel. It features the article “Has America Become an Oligarchy?” Here are some of the facts, including a graphic, offered in support of a yes answer.
- Nearly two-thirds of net private assets are concentrated in the hands of 5 percent of Americans. In comparison, the upper 5 percent of Germanyhold less than half of net assets. In 2009 alone, at the same time as the US was being convulsed by mass layoffs, the number of millionaires in the country skyrocketed.
- even the CIA has concluded that wealth disparity is greater in the US than in Tunisia or Egypt.
- the US has entered a new Gilded Age, a period of systematic inequality dominated by a new class of super-rich.
- the development is also accelerating. In the years of economic growth between 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of the income gains went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. Likewise, although the productivity of the US economy has increased considerably since the beginning of the millennium, most Americans haven’t benefited from it, with average annual incomes falling by more than 10 percent, to $49,909 (€35,184).
- 1 percent of American society now controls more than half of the country’s stocks and securities.
- the average income for securities traders has steadily climbed to $360,000 a year.
- In 1980, American CEOs earned 42 times more than the average employee. Today, that figure has skyrocketed to more than 300 times.
- Last year, 25 of the country’s highest-paid CEOs earned more than their companies paid in taxes.
- Wall Street bosses and CEOs have successfully arranged extensive deregulation for their industries.
- Warren Buffett earned $63 million last year but was only required to pay 17 percent in taxes.
- studies show that increasing inequality and political control concentrated in the hands of the wealthy elite have drastically reduced economic mobility and that the US has long since fallen far behind Europeon this issue.