Saturday, December 5, 2015

New report reveals a dozen Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of all Americans

“A report [on December 2nd] provide[d] a powerful image that will help people understand how extreme concentration of wealth has become in America — an issue at the core of our economic, political and social woes over the past 35 years. ‘America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet — now own more wealth than the bottom halfof Americans, according to the new report by Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, both veteran analysts of inequality in America.

“But there’s a big problem with that memorable image: It seriously understates just how much wealth these 20 people have. Probably just 12 or 15 of those at the top own as much as America’s worst-off 160 million people. That’s about $732 billion on each side of that equation. For the top 20, it averages $36 billion each; for the bottom half, $4,575 each. 

“The intense concentration of wealth matters because it makes the economy less efficient, discouraging investments that create jobs while giving a relative handful of superrich Americans vast sway over the agendas that politicians pursue. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, provided nearly half the contributions to the presidential candidates in both parties, though giving was heavily skewed to Republicans.

“The result is policies that take from the many and redistribute to the already rich few through stealth techniques that rarely make the news but can be found in the public record. Among these policies are a failure to enforce the laws of business competition, severe restrictions on unions and subsidies galore for big companies…”

For the entire article by David Cay Johnston, click here.

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