The top 7 percent of U.S. households (in 2011) owned 63 percent of the
nation's total household wealth, up from 56 percent in 2009 (according to
the Pew Research Center), and the average net worth of the top 7 percent
of the wealth distribution increased by 28 percent (to $3.2 million, up
from $2.5 million) while the lower 93 percent
dropped by 4 percent (to $134,000 from $140,000), according to an April
24, 2013, AP article in the Seattle Times.
The richest people on Earth got even richer in 2012 -- they added $241 billion to
their collective net worth. That net worth stood at $1.9 trillion at
the end of December, according to the Seattle Times (citing Bloomberg Billionaires
Through 2011, the main drivers of the 2012 U.S. government $11.3 trillion
national debt (called the "fiscal cliff") are the Bush-era tax cuts
dollars), interest on the national debt ($1,386 billion dollars) and the
Afghan and Iraq wars ($1,262 billion dollars), along with stimulus
spending, Medicare drug plan spending, etc., according to the Nov. 12,
2012 Seattle Times. [Just as 2013 began, Congress passed and President Obama signed
a bill preserving most of the Bush-era tax cuts.]
After presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed 47% of Americans "pay no
income tax" and are "dependent upon government," media noted that
because of tax loopholes, not near-poverty income, 1,400
millionaires paid no federal income taxes in 2009 (Robertson Williams,
senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center) and that in 2011 the corporate
"person" Boeing had no net income-tax liability for the fourth year in a
row, despite $5.1 billion in profits (Danny Westneat), according to the
Seattle Times, Sept. 19, 2012.
In the summer of 2012, presidential candidate Mitt Romney
extending all the George W. Bush tax cuts to the rich (see below) --
saving wealthy enought to pay for three more butlers --
while President Obama proposed preserving only some of the Bush tax cuts
-- saving the rich enough to add only one butler -- according to
David Sirota in the July 21, 2012, Seattle Times.
Corporate taxes as a percentage of the
U.S. Gross Domestic
Product decreased from 7.2% in 1945 to 1.3% in 2010 -- while profits
increased from nearly nothing in 1945 to $1.8 trillion in 2010. At the
same time individuals paid a 42.3% share of tax revenue in 2010 while
corporation paid 7.2% -- source, Seattle Times, Feb. 23, 2012.
Wells Fargo, At&T, Verizon, General Electric, IBM, Exxon Mobile and Boeing
together got tax breaks totaling just under $70 billion between 2008 and
2010, the Seattle Times reported on Feb. 23, 2012.
Some superwealthy lashed out at protests against the greed of the richest
1% -- saying the protesters were imbeciles and calling rules that require
companies to disclose the ratio of pay between CEOs and employees
"insane," according to the Dec. 21, 2011 Seattle Times, which noted that
average U.S. household income increased 62% between 1969 and 2007 -- but
income for the top 1% rose more than 300%.
Compensation in fiscal year 2010 for American CEOs increased by a median
27%, according to the Los Angeles Times. CEOs from the S&P 500 took a
median 36.5% increase in compensation, the Times said, citing the ninth
annual report from the research group GMI.
Paul Krugman noted in November 2011 that all American redistribution of
income away from the bottom 80% has gone to the highest-income 1% --
and that a report looking only through 2005 found that almost two-thirds
of the rising share of top 1% income went to the top 0.1% (the richests
one-thousandth), who saw their income rise more than 400% from 1979 to
Krugman added that the top 0.1% is not heroic entrepreneurs -- instead,
corporate executives, executives in nonfinancial companies (Wall Street
executives), lawyers and real estate kings.
"'We are the
99 percent' is a clear message. It is unfair and,
in fact, digusting that the American political economy is run for the benefit of a
plutocracy. I don't see how that can be misunderstood," said Todd Gitlin
(president of the former Students for a Democratic Society in the
mid-1960s) at the Occupy Wall Street protest Oct. 5, 2011, according to
the Oct. 10 Seattle Times.
Fifty percent of all American workers earned less than $26,364 in 2010, fewer jobs
were available and overall pay was trending downward, except for the wealthiest, with
the number of people making $1 million or more rising 18 percent from 2009, according
to an Oct. 21, 2011, Seattle Times article citing Social Security Administration
CEO pay has multiplied, with the median value of salaries, bonuses and
incentives for the CEOs of 350 huge American corporations rising 11% in
2010 to $9.3 million, according to a Wall Street Journal study that was
cited by the Cascadia Weekly on Aug. 31, 2011. Bonuses rose 19.7% too --
and these increases do not include stock-option rewards.
The top 0.1% of U.S. earners grabbed more than 10% of U.S. personal income
(including capital gains), and the top 1% grabbed more than 20% (in 2008, the
lastest year figures are available), the June 21, 2011, Seattle Times reported.
The big earners are executives and managers (even in boring areas like
the milk business). Since 1970, executive pay has increased 430%, far
above a 250% increase U.S. corporate profits -- and wildly above the
26% increase in wages for ordinary workers.
A dozen U.S. businesses -- with profits of $171 billion over the past
three years -- paid a NEGATIVE $2.5 billion in federal taxes. Boeing had
$9.7 billion in profts over this 2008-10 period and had a total federal
tax rate of -1.8 percent. In the decade ending in 21010, Boeing's profits
$29 billion, yet it paid MINUS $948 million in federal taxes, according to
the July 3, 2011 Seattle Times' Danny Westneat (citing a Citizens for Tax
The average federal income tax rate for the 400 most super rich (average
income of $345 million in 2007, the most recent year for IRS data) was
17%; it had been as high as 26% in 1992, according to an Associated Press
story on Page 1 of the April 18, 2011, Seattle Times.
The richest 1 tenth of 1 percent of Americans is only 13,000 households
and earned more than 11 percent of the nation's total 2007 income,
according to columnist Bob Herbert in the Sept. 15, 2010, Seattle Times.
The top 1 percent of earners has seen its share of America's income
increase from 9 percent in the 1970s to 10 percent in the 1980s, to 19
percent in the late 1990s -- and to 23 percent in 2007, the most
recent year complete data is available.
The super-rich get super-richer, according to the Aug. 23, 2010 New
Yorker, which reported that between 2002 and 2007, the top one percent of
rich Americans have seen their share of the national income double. And,
within that group, the top 0.1 percent have seen their share of national
income triple -- by themselves, they earn as much as the bottom 120
million people in America.
The top 1% of Americans saw their real income rise 700% between 1980
and 2007 while the real income of the median family increased only 22% --
a third of its growth the previous 27 years, according to an August
2009 New York Times column by Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner.
By 2006, income was more concentrated for the rich than at any time since
the beginning of the great depression -- but the current recession is
beginning to make them a bit less rich, the New York Times reported in
late August of 2009. But they were still rich. (According to the IRS, in
the late 70s, each of the highest-earning households -- the top 1/10,000
-- earned over $2 million, adjusted for inflation, while in 2007 they
each made over $11.5 million.)
By 2004, the top 1 percent of Americans took 16% of national income --
whereas in Japan, it took a little over 8% and Sweden, it took just under
6%, according to TooMuchOnline.org.
One percent of the world's adults own 40% of the world's wealth --
most of the richest people live in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific
nations, according to a U.N. University report. (The average adult wealth
is $181,000 in Japan and $144,000 in
the U.S. as compared, for example, to Indonesia with $1,400.)
The wealthiest 20% of households own 50% of U.S. wealth the Census
Bureau showed in 2002 -- that's up from 44 percent in 1973.
For the bottom 20%, their share is now only 3.5%, down from 4.2% in
Now, 10% own 80% of the nation's property -- and 13,000 of its richest
families have net worth equal to the 20 million poorest families.
By mid-2010, the pre-Bush budget surplus of $5.6 trillion had become a
$13 trillion, according to http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock (as of
3.25.10) -- see the clock for the current debt total: National debt
The richest 1% of Americans now own 37% of the wealth -- more than the poorest
16 million Americans now live in deep poverty (annual income less than
$9,903) -- a grown of 26% from 2000 to 2005, according to a McClatchy
Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures.
The percent of American poor in extreme poverty has grown from 29.9% in
1975 to 43.1% in 2005.
Over the last 20 years, America has had the highest or nearly highest
poverty rates for individual adults, families and children among 31
developed countries (Luxembourg Income Study).
Over its course, the 2001 tax cut gave almost 40 percent of
the cut to the richest 1%.
The added tax breaks of 2003
similarly benefited the rich (savings for those with income
under $10,000 will be $5, with 8 million low-income taxpayers not
receiving anything and another 6.5 million low-income taxpayers not
receiving a $400 child-care tax credit -- which excludes 12 million
The Seattle P-I reported that under the tax cuts, on their 2004 taxes,
President Bush saved over $29,000 and Vice President Cheney, $81,336.
For those with incomes over $1
million, tax savings
Prior to that, the tax burden for the richest 1% increased by 48% between
1979 and 1997 -- but their income grew 157% (to an average of $677,900 --
up from $263,700 in 1979).
Congressional Budget Office statistics show that adjusted for
of American families in the middle rose from $41,900 in 1979 to $45,100 in
(a 9% increase) while the income of families in the top 1% of income rose
from $420,200 in
1979 to $1.016 million in 1997 (a 140% increase).
That means that in 1979, the richest 1% of families
made 10 times that of the average family but by 1997 were making 23
times the amount -- and the gap is still growing.
Large-company CEOs, on average, earn 500 times more than the average
worker, the Seattle P-I reported Feb. 1, 2007 -- in 1980, CEO salaries
were only 42 times greater.
Now, the nation's 10 highest paid CEOs make $154 million a year as opposed
to the $3.5 million made by the top 10 in 1981.
In 1974, the average CEO made 34 times as much as a production or
In 1990, it was 96 times as much.
In 2000, it was 458 times as much.
The average CEO of a major corporation makes $13.1 million a year in
compensation (about $36,000 a day).
An estimated 61 percent of U.S. corporations paid no federal taxes
between 1996 and 2000.
Worker pay in the year 2000 was lower, inflation-adjusted, than in 1980
while CEO pay was 10 times higher (workers averaged $28,900 in 1980 and
$28,597 -- inflation-adjusted in 2000)
CEOs averaged $1.3 million in 1980 (in year 2000 dollars) and $13.1
million in 2000.
The 2001 income tax booklet shows that half the federal income for
Fiscal Year 2000 came from personal income tax. Corporations provided
According to Harpers (July 2004) 61 percent of U.S.
corporations paid no federal taxes between 1996 and 2000.
In October 2004, Congress passed and President Bush [later signed] a
tax-cut bill of $136 billion for corporations, the Seattle P-I reported
Oct. 12, 2004.
The same day, the P-I reported that one in five jobs in America earns
poverty-level wages, meaning 39 million Americans earn barely enough to
cover basic needs.
1.3 more million Americans are below the poverty line
1.4 million more people are without health insurance
2 million jobs have been lost in the private sector
The budget surplus of $5.6 trillion has become a deficit of $400 billion
Economic growth has been 1%, the lowest of any presidency in 50 years
Value of stocks held by Americans dropped $4.5 trillion, equal to a 30
percent drop in the value of IRAs and 401(k) plans