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Forum Post: the 1% or the .01% by paul street

Posted 1 year ago on Sept. 7, 2012, 8:57 a.m. EST by flip (6446)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

strange as it might seem, the top hundredth may actually be too big a slice of the population to highlight when it comes to the question of which Americans have gained most from the nation’s highly skewed and unequal pattern of economic growth over the last three plus decades. Between 1974 and 2007, it is true, the share of U.S. income “earned” by the top U.S. income hundredth more than doubled – from 8 to 18 percent. Including capital gains, the increase goes from 9 to 24 percent, the 1%’s highest share since 1928, the eve of the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression. But, as political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson noted in their important 2010 book Winner Take All Politics:

‘the top 1 percent, while seemingly an exclusive group, is much too broad a category to pinpoint the most fortunate beneficiaries of the post-1970s income explosion at the top….In terms of share of national income earned, the top 0.1 percent [the top thousandth] have seen their slice of the pie grow from 2.7 percent [in 1974] to 12.3 percent of income – a more than fourfold increase…..[and] the gains within this superrich group are themselves highly concentrated….the top 0.01 percent (the richest one in ten thousand households) have seen an even more spectacular rise. From less than $4 million in average annual incomes in 1974, the average member of this select group now earns more than $35 million. From earning less than 1 of every 100 dollars, these supremely fortunate souls now earn more than 1 of every 17 – more than 6 percent of national income accruing to 0.01 percent of families. This is the highest share of income going to this group since the data begin to be collected in 1913 [emphasis added].’ [9]

And then there’s wealth, more unequally distributed than income.[10] The United States is home to 56,860 people (0.05 % of the population) identified by the global wealth intelligence firm Wealth X as “Ultra High New Worth” (UHNW) individuals. A UHNW individual is anyone with at least $30 million in worth, “including shares in companies, real estate, cash, art collections, private planes and other invest-able assets.” At the top of the industrialized world’s most unequal country (the United States) are more than 400 billionaires. The pinnacle is held by three men – Bill Gates (net worth of $59 billion), Warren Buffett ($33 billion) and Lawrence Ellison ($33 billion) – whose combined wealth exceeded the collective, recession-inducted budget-shortfalls of every U.S. state in 2011.

The cumulative wealth of “the Forbes 400” (the 400 wealthiest Americans) is $1.54 trillion, roughly the same net worth possessed by the entire bottom half of U.S. families. Even more shocking, six Waltons – five children and one daughter-in-law of Sam and James “Bud” Walton (the founders of Wal-Mart, whose previously unimaginable profits flowed from the import of goods manufactured at super-exploitive wage levels abroad and especially in China) had a total net worth of $69.7 billion. This was equal to the total wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of Americans.

“The 1%” versus “the 99%” dichotomy hardly captures this level of disparity.

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5 Comments


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[-] 1 points by ogoj11 (263) 1 year ago

Personally I believe in a fair fight. Let's give them 50% and make it the bottom 50 vs. the top 50.

Seriously, this line of thought is paralleling the development of monotheism, many gods being reduced to 1. Now, instead of many little demons (1%), we gradually concentrate our hate on fewer and fewr demons until one great Demon remains. I'm going to call my millionaire friends to give them the good news that they're now on our side. Bye.

[-] 1 points by flip (6446) 1 year ago

read c wright mills "the power elite" - do you know what the numbers look like. the income of the top 1% and .01%

[-] 0 points by Mooks (1985) 1 year ago

Millionaires are not that uncommon these days. They live in normal neighborhoods in normal houses. They may even be your neighbor. They don't donate huge amounts of money to influence politicians or create policy. They are usually just people who have worked hard and are successful. It is the super wealthy who are causing the problems our country faces.

[-] 1 points by Cocreator (306) 1 year ago

Huey Long said it Best.".What would you do if you went to a barbecue,and someone came and took nine tenths of the food." Peoples Party Unite! We have no representation in current bought and paid for courts and politicians..No More Elections, We Are All Elected! Peoples Court to address corruption and treason, No Diplomatic Immunity..

[-] 1 points by flip (6446) 1 year ago

agreed but we have a ways to go before we really have someone to vote for - your idea seems to be not something i am ready for at this moment. a bit of a side issue here but who killed huey long? and cocreator - of what?