By Rob Mirabito, Carpenters Local 33 (personal capacity)
In the film Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore points out that the richest 1% of the American population owns more financial wealth (net worth minus net equity of a home) than the bottom 95% combined. A more recent study using data from 2007 shows the top 1% owning 48.4% of the non-home wealth, while the bottom 95% owned only 20% (politifact.com). There are different ways to crunch these numbers, but in any and every case it’s clear that the rich are getting richer while working people and the poor are left behind.
This is not a new trend. In 1965, CEOs for major American corporations earned 24 times that of the average worker. By 2005, the ratio had skyrocketed to 262. Leaving aside the fact that the average CEO does none of the productive work, making 262 times the worker who actually creates the wealth seems outrageous by any standard, but in light of the economic crisis that is slashing the standard of living for millions, these figures are particularly disgusting.
While the rich have been getting much richer, average household income for every bracket except the top 10% has been stagnating for the last ten years. The bottom 60% haven’t seen any real growth in income for the last 20 years.
Last year, 37 million Americans were underfed; the number for this year is “at least 50 million,” including 17 million children (alternet.org). One-third of the population (100 million people) is living at or below 200% of the federal poverty line, which is $21,834 for a family of four; we can only assume that they mean a family of four starving people. If there is anywhere in the U.S. where you can feed four people with that money, I’d like to hear about it.