As rich get richer numbers of poor grow
By Dian Vujovich
A recent report shows how the ultra-high-net-worth folks have accomplished that financial feat. And then there are the numbers of food-stamp poor. Between the two there’s no way to find any balance.
Re the rich: Once upon a time the thinking was that the wealthy grew in numbers because they inherited their wealth. But that was once upon a time. According to Barclay’s Wealth Insights report, today 67 percent of the ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the U.S. made their fortunes through earnings; 16 percent from profits from property; 21 percent from the sale of a business and/or profits from one; and only 20 percent from an inheritance.
Re the poor: Dr. Salvatore Babones, author and professor at the University of Sydney, in a recent Truth Out video said his research shows the inequality gap in the U.S. has been growing since the 1970s. But, he said that’s not always been the case.
Thanks to Yankee ingenuity and the creation of things like cars, telephones and all inventions of the modern world, Babones said “ordinary people” made big gains in their wealth during the 100 years between the 1870s and 1970s. Incomes over that time frame he claims grew at about 2 percent per year.
Then everything thing changed: From the 1970s through 2010, Babones’ research shows incomes for ordinary folk grew 0 percent.
What he thinks really kicked the spread between the rich and the poor into an ever-widening gap were things like government policies, changes in the tax laws and the fall of unions.
From my point of view, two of the greatest catalysts that created what now represents the widest spread between the rich and the poor since the 1920s were when Republican President Ronald Reagan passed the Economic Recovery Tax Act in 1981 with his Reaganomics plan of trickle-down economics that wound up trickling-up to a just a precious few. Thank you, Ronnie.
Second, Wall Street’s love of a merit pay scale that gives those holding high ranks in publicly held corporations, investment bankers and the likes salaries — bonuses, stock options etc, — based upon things such as a company’s stock performance, assets under management, future this-and-thats, etc. Taken together, we’ve created one heck of a titled wheel of fortune.
Truth be told, it’s institutional-basesd selling that is the most rewarding and primary name of the money game on Wall Street today while teasing everyday investors with token market returns ranks a distant second. Under that framework there will come a time when the scales of money become tipped to the extreme. And we are there.
The big question that no one wants to address, or even begin talking about, is what is America going to do about its income disparity? Our nation can’t thrive when 22 percent of today’s kids are living in poverty; nearly 48 million people (about 16 percent of the population) are collecting food stamps; 16 percent of the population is living in poverty; and when a living wage really isn’t one.
Consider this: If you’re earning $1 million dollars a year, you’re making more in 1-hour of work than a family of 4 earns in a week if their income is at the poverty level of roughly $23,500 a year.
Something isn’t right on both sides of that equation.
To read more articles, please visit the column archive.