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US Economic Inequality

Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) maintains that the US is the most unequal of the industrial countries, as the bottom 60% of the population owns only 2.3% of the wealth. The US faces the greatest income inequality since the 1920s, with the middle-class shrinking.

*The Economic Policy Institute reported that 1% of US households control 43% of the assets. Since the 1970s almost all the gains from economic growth have gone to the rich, services have been privatized, while tax revenues from corporations dropped as they moved out of the US. Thus, people have lower wages and fewer government services.

 *The six Wal-Mart heirs have more wealth than a third of Americans’ combined wealth. The politically active right-wing Koch Brothers have $50 billion to influence elections.[i]

*From 2010 to 2011, the top 20% earned half the nation’s income, while the bottom 20% earned 3.4%, according to the Census Bureau—the biggest increase in income inequality in two decades. The Congressional Budget Office reported that in 28 years the top 1% increased their share of income to almost one-quarter of US earnings and controlled about 40% of the nation’s wealth.[ii]

*The gap between CEO pay and the average wage increased to 325 to 1 in 2011 when 25 corporations paid more to their CEO than they paid in federal taxes.[iii]

*The median net worth of young adults ages 18 to 35 dropped 68% since 1984 to less than $4,000, while the richest 1% increased their share with a medium net worth of over $5 million.[iv] Tuition at state universities increased 72% in the past decade, adding to student debt. Over half of college graduates were un- or underemployed in 2011 and salaries for new graduates dropped. Charts of the growing gap between the rich and the average family are shown on Mother Jones’ website.[v]


[i] Bernie Sanders, “The American People Are Angry,” Speech to the US Senate, June 27, 2012.

http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=15dad430-967e-4179-968c-2d7b0dac036a

[ii] Joseph Stiglitz, “Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%,” Vanity Fair, May 2011.

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 1% income has grown by 275% in 28 years, while the other 99% only saw an income increase of 40 percent over the same period. The loss of American jobs, distribution of income favoring the 1%, banking deregulation, political corruption and the destruction of natural and cultural resources all stem from corporatocracy today.

[iii] Chuck Collins, et al, “Executive Excess 2011: the Massive CEO Rewards for Tax Dodging,” Institute for Policy Studies, April 21, 2012.

[iv] Paul Buchheit, “Three Ways the Rich and Powerful Have Cheated Young Americans,“ Politics and Current Affairs, July 9, 2012.

http://www.politicsandcurrentaffairs.co.uk/us-politics-forum/112123-three-ways-rich-powerful.html

This video charts inequities in the US. http://www.nationofchange.org/viral-video-shows-extent-us-wealth-inequality-1366729910

[v] Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot, “It’s the Inequality Stupid,” Mother Jones Magazine, April 2011.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

The DVD Thrive claims that a few oligarchs dominate the world financial system. http://www.filestube.com/t/thrive+dvd

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