As extreme wealth crystalizes (as it becomes ever more concentrated in the future)… who among you expects that increasing concentration of wealth for a few to foster democracy? It seems almost an axiom that such extreme disparity of wealth would by necessity seek to install fascist policies of control and surveillance, so as to protect that disparity. Only poor people want the rich to share. The rich rarely feel the same way.
When only a few people own most of the wealth of this world then those few people will spend a great deal of time and effort ensuring that they and their heirs get to keep it.
They don’t care…
…about being fair!
Best we all get over that notion and wake up. Trump got votes from so many people who were just too poor to go around helping a billionaire gain more wealth and power.
It should be against the law to possess a billion dollars.
“Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.”
-Honoré de Balzac
Thanks for your reminding us of what is really true, Mr. Buchheit.
“The owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it.” - George Carlin
$90.2 trillion is the total net worth of households in the U.S., that comes to $277,000 per human being, and $710,000 per household. The wealthiest one percent own 42% of this, according to G. Zucman, professor at U.C. Berkeley and published at Pathways magazine, 2016. The real point though is that in 2009, total household net worth was $48.9 trillion. In eight years during the biggest economic collapse since the 1930s the wealthiest gained over $40 trillion in additional wealth. The typical, or median, household lost 40% of its life savings, millions lost jobs and income. Net worth for the typical Black family dropped from $9,100 to $4,500, and for Hispanics it fell from $9,400 to $1,500 – see State of Working America, the chart on wealth, the last chart. And the real point is that this wealth is not taxed, as it should be. The national debt now approaches $20 trillion, up from $10 trillion in 2008. Taxing financial assets, and there are $76 trillion in financial assets in the U.S. (Flow of Funds, Table B101) and about $30 trillion in “tangible assets” such as real estate, with $14 trillion of private debt = $90.2 trillion net worth – I meant to say, taxing financial paper assets is the common sense method to pay down the national debt. When will that happen? When hell freezes, I suppose. Thanks Paul. My blog: http://benL8.blogspot.com
It is actually worse than it seems. According to Thomas Piketty in “Capital In the 21st Century” for the last 200 years capital has gained an average of 5% per annum as the economy has grown at 2%. All of the Forbes billionaires with the exception of David Rockefeller are new money. There is no mention of any of the old royal families of Europe or of the old banking families like Wahrburgs and Rothschilds. They have learned how to hide their wealth. Even Rockefellers wealth has shrunk by 2 billion since I last checked this list 2 years ago when Piketty’s book was first published.What happened to it? Much of the wealth cited is based on market capital of corporations. Real wealth that does not depend on financial structures that can fail quickly is based on land and necessary resources. It would be interesting to have an analysis that shows land ownership. For instance there is no Bush or Walker on Forbes list but the Bush family recently purchased 250,000 acres in South America over its larges fresh water aquifer. That is what the truly old wealth does and it is done without the knowledge of the public or even Forbes.
The growth of families would not dilute the wealth much because the birthrate is less than 2% per year in the developed countries and even less among the wealthy.
In 1992 21% of Murkins age 65 and older were employed and not yet retired.
In 2012 33% of Murkins age 65 and older were employed and not yet retired.
The percentage of senior citizens in the workforce has continued to rise since 2012.
Jacoby and Salmon would likely tell us that these senior citizens love their jobs too much to consider retiring.
Morbid Inequality: Now Just SIX Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World’s Population
- Paul Buchheit
Capitalist economics ensures that one’s probability of increasing wealth, and one’s ability to limit the wealth of others, is a function of one’s wealth. So, wealth concentration is almost certain. The only question is a matter of degree.
Still, many Republicans and Libertarians continue to argue that Inequality is Good. The classic arguments are:
- Economic growth, even for the poor, is maximized under capitalism, and the poor benefit from wealth even when it is not theirs.
- Inequality motivates the poor to work harder.
This overlooks the resulting plutocratic governance, the exploitation of those who are not wealthy, and the destruction of the environment due to the golden rules of perpetual consumption, perpetual growth, and planned obsolescence.
Meanwhile, as Nancy Pelosi illustrates, many Democrats still refuse to consider alternatives to capitalist economics.
The good news for those engaged in grassroots organizing is that many working class people are more open to alternative socialist economics.
And why? Because that much wealth is used to purchase power and own government; government of, by and for the people. On paper, that is.
This list does not include the richest person on earth – Putin at $85bn.
So … hows that exceptionalism working out for everybody?
Well said. The old wealth remains invisible. Is is possible that the old wealth are the real puppet masters and the newbies - Gates and Zukerberg and Bezos - are just the puppets? How would Bill react when he realized that he was not King, only a mere courtier, mocked and scorned in the REAL Halls of Power, but arrogantly tolerated for the time being. Does he have any idea how easily he could be disposed of when the Rulers’ whims change?
Would that Bill and Mark and Jeff would know that the Kings find them just as contemptible as they find the rest of us.
The poet, David Budbill had something to say about wealth and affluence: “rich are pickled in the sauce of affluence. Affluence breeds complacency, and complacency breeds dim-wittedness. Of course, poverty, neglect and malnutrition breed dim-wittedness, too. What often happens with the affluent, however, is that their lives become so secure that need and necessity are forgotten, and this limits the imagination.”
The inequality goes well beyond being morbid, it is criminal, parasitic and inhumane.
The power that comes with the money has served to corrupt our government, our communities, our democracy, our public education, our health care, destroy/undermine our personal lives, and our social safety net.
If “the poor will always be with us”
It is solely due to the rich remaining, as well
And if you think that’s bad, just ask Syrians and Iraquis etc. just how much worse “power that comes with the money” can make things.
In the US, we’re over 20 years into our war on the poor. Countless families have been torn apart, and the overall life expectancy of the US poor has fallen below that of every developed nation. It’s not a mystery. Not everyone can work (health, etc.), and there aren’t jobs for all. The US shut down/shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare aid in the 1990s.
Have you noticed how nearly all of the US “inequality” discussion is about the gap between the gainfully employed and the rich, simply disappearing our poverty crisis? It does make things sound much rosier, so why not extend this to apply to the world?
Actually, it was the middle class that demanded the dismantling of that “ladder out of poverty,” our former welfare system, and it was the Clinton administration that granted their wish.