There is a great article by Paul Buchheit in Alternet about wealth inequality in the US. That article lists 5 facts, but it is insight rich so I have listed 10 facts all from Buchheit’s article in condensed form:
1. Any of the ten richest Americans could pay a year’s rent for all of America’s homeless with their 2012 income.
2. For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.
3. A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S.
4. These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget.
5. For anyone still believing “they earned it,” it should be noted that most of the Forbes 400 earnings came from minimally-taxed, non-job-creating capital gains.
6. In 2009 the poorest 47% of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation’s wealth (their debt exceeded their assets).
7. Since 1980 the American GDP has approximately doubled. Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down. But the stock market has increased by over ten times, and the richest quintile of Americans owns 93% of it.
8. Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.
9. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars.
10. Minority families once had substantial equity in their homes, but after Wall Street caused the housing crash, median wealth fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. Now the average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth.
The article even offers some suggestions on how to begin to correct the problem:
What to do?
End the capital gains giveaway, which benefits the wealthy almost exclusively.
Institute a Financial Speculation Tax, both to raise needed funds from a currently untaxed subsidy on stock purchases, and to reduce the risk of the irresponsible trading that nearly brought down the economy.
Perhaps above all, we progressives have to choose one strategy and pursue it in a cohesive, unrelenting attack on greed. Only this will heal the ugly gash of inequality that has split our country in two.