I and others have written about how the problem in the USA is not in the concentration of wealth and income in the top 10 percent or top 1 percent, but in the top 0.01 percent—the 1 percent of the 1 percent.
Recently I came across a chart that shows how this tiny group of people, roughly 25,000 out of 150 million American voters, provide 40 percent of the financing of American elections.
I’d be very interested to see any research on the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent—the richest 25 or so Americans.
This is not the only way that the ultra-rich influence government. They also provide employment and income for politicians and administration officials after they leave office. It is not surprising that the political system responds to the wishes of Americans in upper income brackets, but not to average Americans.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, who is running for the Democratic nomination, is trying to break free of this system. He raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his candidacy, from about 35,000 donors giving an average of $43.54 each. That’s more than any of the announced Republican candidates have raised so far.
This is a good start. But it’s an uphill battle.
Hillary Clinton has announced she intends to raise a campaign war chest of from $1 billion to $2.5 billion. To make up that amount from small donations, 10 million American voters would have to contribute $100 to $250 each, which would be difficult but not un-doable.
Fortunately it’s not necessary to match billionaires dollar-for-dollar, but only to raise enough money to get the populist message out.