A new report released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies looks at the fortunes of the Forbes 400, and compares their wealth to the much more meager assets of the rest of America.
Among their most significant findings:
* America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group including Warren Buffett, Charles and David Koch, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Sheldon Adelson — now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.
* The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population — plus more than a third of the Latino population — combined.
* With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.
* The median American family has a net worth of $81,000. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 36 million of these typical American families.
* Furthermore, the report authors note that they “believe that these statistics actually underestimate our current national levels of wealth concentration.” They say the “growing use of offshore tax havens and legal trusts has made the concealing of assets much more widespread than ever before.”
The folks at the Institute for Policy Studies appeared to be clueless as to how this historically massive unequal distribution of income came about. Those who control the state and federal government engineered this inequality, through such income redistribution programs as;
1. International income redistribution scams falsely marketed as free trade treaties. The latest scam is the Trans Pacific Partnership, a so-called trade treaty involving 12 nations of the Pacific Rim. Such wealthy class warriors as George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and Ron Wyden support this, the largest, income redistribution scam in US history. It will also diminish the voting rights of the 99 percent on local and state levels. These agreements pave the legal route for US corporations to ship US jobs overseas. It also paves the way for US corporations to create jobs over there, rather than over here. The difference between the old higher US pay and the new lower overseas pay goes straight into the pockets of the super rich via higher corporate profits, rising dividends and surging share prices. The job losers may get some unemployment insurance, if they are lucky. These agreements are the biggest income redistribution scams, but there are other significant scams of this nature. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, Wyden voted to export 28 million US jobs overseas from 1990 to 2010, and millions more since.
2. Privatization scams, which enrich the wealthy.
3. Tax breaks for the rich, which allow them to purchase politicians, who then do their bidding in the halls of congress, in the white house, and in state houses across the nation. That bidding usually consists of legislation that redistributes income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent, such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden’s Trans Pacific Partnership.
In spite of their ignorance of how we got here, the folks of the Institute for Policy Studies did come up with some good suggestions to curtail wealth accumulation by a few people, which has come about at the expense of the many.
“First, we must close wealth escape routes. Wealthy individuals are moving quickly to shift wealth into offshore tax havens and bury it in private trusts, avoiding accountability and taxation every step of the way. This hidden wealth now totals in the trillions. Our first step must be to close these escape routes and tax dodges.
Second, we need to implement policies to reduce concentrated wealth. Without action to directly reduce private concentrations of wealth, inequality will continue to grow. By seriously taxing our wealthiest households, we could raise significant revenues and invest these funds to expand wealth-building opportunities across the economy.”
The next installment on this story, Why Wealth and Income Inequality Matters: Especially Since the Rich Are Stealing From the Rest of Us, will be within two days.