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Rep. Alan Grayson writes in the Huffington Post that The top 0.1 percent is the problem, in terms of the ownership of our nation's wealth - the richest 15,000 Americans.  In 1960, the top 0.1% had less than 8% of U.S. wealth. Now it's 22%, based on a study Grayson quotes by Professor Saez who examined our nation's wealth and income in the past century. Grayson also tells us that those with net worths over $20 million own almost one quarter of all assets in America.

In fact, Professor Saez has discovered that wealth inequality started rising again in 1977 and is now back where it was in the 1920s.

Folks who are in the bottom half of that one percent, the mere multi-millionaires ($4 million and up), actually have seen their share of wealth decline. A little higher, between the top 0.1 percent and the top 0.5 percent, the share of wealth has been flat. The share of the top 0.1 percent, though, has more than doubled. And the share of the super-super-super rich, the top 0.01 percent, has more than quadrupled, from two percent in 1977 to over 11 percent today.

As for the Forbes 400, their share of national wealth has risen from one percent in 1983, when Forbes started the list, to over three percent last year. If that percentage keeps tripling every 30 years, then a century from now, in the year 2114, 400 Americans will own everything.

Perhaps, the most depressing part of Grayson's short essay  other than the bottom 50% has zero assets, is that the bottom 90%'s  assets have been falling. Since he 1980 home values have crashed, and the value of liquid assets has crashed. The only asset for his group to hold its value is the pension/401(k)s and more than a quarter of people do not have either a pension or 401(k) says, Grayson.


In a vain effort to pay all those credit card bills, the bottom 90 percent in America had to spend more than they earned during every single year from 1997 to 2008, until the credit wipeout during the Great Recession made that impossible. And as a result, their share of national wealth has dropped from over 35 percent to barely 25 percent.

And the bottom 50 percent? They have a net worth of zero. Zilch.

Another poignant point that Rep. Grayson makes is the because we lack a progressive tax system the rich are receiving a 6% return on their investment after taxes. So for those who derive our incomes by working for a living, unless you are getting wage increases of 6% per year you are falling further behind each year.

"Say, how's that Republican taxation system working out for you, eh?"

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the bottom 99.9% of Americans to get upset enough about this to do something about it. We could easily fix this with a progressive inheritance tax on estates over $20 million, combined with a more progressive income and corporate tax. This study proves there is an opportunity to return the level that have been working fine in all the years since the Great Depression.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (29+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Comments and Posts intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited.

    by HoundDog on Sun May 18, 2014 at 09:14:30 AM PDT

  •  So less than another hundred years and 400 (8+ / 0-)

    people will own everything and they will be gazillionaires.  Maybe we should just speed it up and get it over with.  Skip the trillionaire part and go straight to gazillionaire.  I wonder what you could buy with a gazillion dollars, especially when you already own everything.

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun May 18, 2014 at 09:46:25 AM PDT

  •  I can't believe that we, the people, are allowing (7+ / 0-)

    this to happen.  Yes, they have the power, the money, the militarized lap dogs, but we have people power.

    As Patti Smith said, PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER.

    We just have to stop believing their hype, and their lies.  

    KILL YOUR TV and get out there and throw some love at those hateful bastards.

    And if love and truth don't get 'em, well, thre's always [REDACTED].

    •  It Started Under Ford or Nixon So We've Had (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, angel d

      almost a half century for the people to respond.

      I don't think we should wait for them any longer.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 18, 2014 at 10:03:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Top marginal rate was still 70% under Nixon/Ford (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, angel d, BusyinCA

        It was Reagan who cut it to 50% his 1st year in office.  Today, such a top marginal rate would be considered "socialism."

        The top estate tax rate in 1981 was 70%.  Today, it's 40%.  While income tax rates are hotly debated, this sharp reduction has largely gone unnoticed.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sun May 18, 2014 at 11:05:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A 12 Year Old Take on the Same Problem (5+ / 0-)

    This shows the Reagan thru Clinton Boom years.

    Complimentary to Grayson's remark that the real issue is the top 0.1%, in this graph we lack that breakout, having only the top 1% vs. the infamous Forbes 400 families.

    But even with just the top 400 removed, the growth in family wealth of virtually all the 1% was very modest even during the Clinton boom which obviously was completely confined to the 1%.

    I always found it pretty shocking that the top 2nd-10th percents lived through the entire Clinton boom at total dead stop same as the rest of us rif-raff.

    Grayson says if we expand that Forbes 400 to the top .1%, that's where all the growth in American family wealth is confined.

    And it has been since before Reagan. 1977's President was Carter not Reagan. So this was set in motion before Carter, although we know he added important early policies of neoliberalism himself.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun May 18, 2014 at 10:03:04 AM PDT

  •  Personally I don't understand why (7+ / 0-)

    we don't have estate taxes, period.  I am presently unemployed - my boss is sick and may never get back to work - and I am taxed on the damned $320 a week I make here in GA.  God this makes me angry.  It's income; it should be taxed.  All of it, just like me.  I'm sick of the rich being coddled while the rest of us find the struggle more and more difficult.

    As far as Alan Grayson goes, I love that man and wish more Dems were bold and mouthy like him.  That's what it's going to take to stop the GOP bullies dead in their tracks.

    The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

    by AnnieR on Sun May 18, 2014 at 10:15:46 AM PDT

  •  It's way past time to do something about it. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angel d, BigAlinWashSt, elwior, Roger Fox

    Tempus fugit.

  •  We did it! We have now surpassed Mexico (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flying Goat, elwior, katiec, Major Kong

    Now only China and Brazil have a higher Gini index than us. The U.S. and China are running neck and neck, but I think we can take them. Brazil is still way ahead of us, but that uniquely American can do attitude will put us over the top.

    “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

    by se portland on Sun May 18, 2014 at 10:22:58 AM PDT

  •  Their doing it by making jobs scarce (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, elwior

    Good jobs are in such high demand states will do anything just to get a few of them. A lot of them even advertise it, come to our state and you will pay extra low to no taxes!!!

    That's only the beginning, once they are established every one is so afraid to lose their jobs no one speaks up about the disparity. My company has a weekly call with Upper Mgmt to have and "OPEN" conversation about how things are going....The employees who spoke up in the past are all gone now. These meetings used to last an hour, now, maybe 10 minutes max......Here is a link to what the pay for Upper Mgmt looks like: http://providencehealthemployees.org/

    Even our Gov. stopped talks to make things more even: http://www.opb.org/...

    Honestly, I have a good job that I cannot afford to lose, I know I am one of the lucky one's to be sure.

    How do we stop this madness, I like the idea in the link of capping Executive pay to a percentage of the workforce's pay. Will that ever happen....Only billions of Koch dollars will tell.

  •  There should be ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, elwior


    A Billionaire Ceiling Tax:

    after the 1st billion,

    they are only allowed to keep 0.1% of the marginal income, above that.


    Sooner or later were going to have to: Trade in those Carbon Footprints ...

    by jamess on Sun May 18, 2014 at 11:10:22 AM PDT

    •  What about a progressive wealth tax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess

      starting at 1% anually for a net worth at 40 million going to 6 percent above 500 million. 10 percent from 1 to 2 billion, and 99 percent for any personal wealth over $2 billion. All of these would of course be adjusted for inflation each year unlike the stupidly written alternative minimun tax.

      •  they finally fixed the AMT last year (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        It now automatically indexes with inflation

      •  NML - most constitutional scholars think a wealth (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        tax would require a Constitutional Amendment like the 16th was required for a federal income tax.

        Several European countries have wealth taxes, although more had them and dropped them. The top rates are in the 2-3% range. They are very difficult to administer, encourage the transfer of wealth to non-financial assets and result in capital flight. That's why they have been dropped by some of the countries who had them.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Sun May 18, 2014 at 07:33:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Give them a choice: (0+ / 0-)

          either stop buying government, or face a wealth tax. If they decide to leave the country, good riddance. I woudn't miss the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, or most of the billionaire hedge fund managers. They are all parasitic oligarchs.

          •  Why a choice? (0+ / 0-)

            As long as they are complying with current laws they certainly have every right to influence the political debate by spending as much of their wealth as they choose. A wealth tax should never be a proposed remedy for political activity. I think a case can be made for a wealth tax based on income inequality and wealth concentration, but political activity shouldn't be the basis.

            I think the bigger challenge is approving a constitutional amendment. The 16th was approved based on the pitch that the income tax would apply only to millionaires and be a low single digit number and look what happened to that tax. I don't think enough state legislatures would ever give Congress a blank check to tax wealth. I doubt if the 16th could be passed today.

            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

            by VClib on Sun May 18, 2014 at 10:26:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Some day there will be a revolution like France (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, The Jester

    in 1789.

    I may not see it in my lifetime, but eventually, enough people who have nothing left to lose will even things out.

  •  At some point you would think that the 1% would (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Roger Fox

    ....do some simple math and figure out they are outnumbered. So unless they want to spend all of their fortune paying for protection that will eventually fail, it is best to make sure the rest of us are dealt with fairly.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Sun May 18, 2014 at 11:27:09 AM PDT

  •  an excellent book.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    Available for free form the soil&health on-line library is "the rich and the super-rich", by Ferdinand Lundberg. It is free because of it's copyright expiration. I had 2 hard copies at one time and gave them both away. It was the most eye-opening, easy to read, explanation for why we are where we are. It was written in the early 60's, but it is revelant today, especially when you extrapolate, including how our laws have changed since then, and how much larger the entities are.

  •  The Filthy Rich's success is from inheritance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    not because they are genius's .... even if their ancestors were.

    They are pretty much idiots, and proof of this is their complete lack of understanding of what will come of them if they succeed in buying the government for much longer.

    There is a breaking point, and it will lead to civil war. Even those that may see it coming still think their money will protect them. Historically that has NEVER worked.

    Greed really is a mental illness and should start being treated as such.

  •  Thank you HoundDog (0+ / 0-)

    The economic picture becomes vastly clearer when we look not at the top 1% but the top .1% & .01%.

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sun May 18, 2014 at 04:15:02 PM PDT

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