The trouble with the 1 percent

Chicago Board of Trade: "We Are the 1%"

The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have:

  • 24 percent of the nation’s income (up from just 9 percent in 1976)
  • 40 percent of the nation’s wealth (versus 7 percent for the bottom four-fifths of Americans)
  • 50 percent of the nation’s stocks, bonds and mutual fund holdings (versus 1/2 of 1 percent for the bottom half of Americans.

I wouldn’t care, and I think few Americans would care, how much the top 1 percent got if the great mass of Americans were prospering.  If I have what I need, I don’t care that somebody else has a lot more.

But this isn’t the case.  Millions of Americans are without jobs, without health insurance, without the ability to pay crushing debts, and millions more are just a paycheck or two away from falling into that abyss.  Long-term unemployment is the highest since the government started measuring it.  Poverty is at the highest levels in decades.   Most Americans get little if any benefit from the recovery.   Income is being redistributed upward.

All these trend charts end in the middle of the Bush administration, but nothing has happened during the Obama administration to indicate that things will change.

Click on Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% for a good article on this subject by Joseph Stiglitz in Vanity Fair.  Stiglitz is a winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics and was an economist for the World Bank and a member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Click on Who Rules America: Wealth, Income and Power for more facts and figures.

Click on How Unequal We Are for more charts and links.

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