Statistics: Wealth in America (and in Congress) → Washingtons Blog
Statistics: Wealth in America (and in Congress) - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Statistics: Wealth in America (and in Congress)

A report by University of California, Berkeley economics professor Emmanuel Saez concludes that income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.

The report shows that:

  • Income inequality is worse than it has been since at least 1917
  • "The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007"
  • "In the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth."
As others have pointed out, the average wage of Americans, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1970s. The minimum wage, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1950s. See this.

On the other hand, billionaires have never had it better (and see this).

Of the 535 members of Congress, over 44% - 237 to be exact - are millionaires. Fifty have net worths of at least $10 million, and seven are worth more than $100 million. By comparison, around 1% of Americans are millionaires. There is no other minority group that is as overrepresented in Congress. See this.


  1. the pay of corporate executives is not nearly as relevant as the pay of doctors and government employees relative to private sector labor supporting them.

  2. Reading the CommonDreams article gave me an idea.

    Republicans object to raising the minimum wage because it means some companies can't afford to hire as many people. This actually makes a certain amount of sense.

    On the other hand, we know that many companies are rolling in the dough and could easily afford to raise the wages of their least-paid workers by a substantial amount.

    Republicans use the one truth to protect their preferred companies -- those in which they invest -- from having to share any more of that wealth with the workers who make that wealth possible.

    So why not eliminate the objection only where it truly applies, while still raising minimum wage for those companies which can afford it: revenue-based minimum wage

    I'm sure you'll the screams from Wall Street all the way to the Left Coast if this starts getting seriously talked about, but I think at this point (given the obscene numbers in that article) a little screaming seems well-deserved.

    Perhaps we can encourage them to think of it as therapy.

  3. 95% tax rate for all income above $1m. 85% for anything over $500k. 0% for any income below $70k.

  4. In Africa some tribes want their leaders to be mean, hard, super rich and arrogant. Intelligence takes the back seat.
    After all, only a cruel leaders gets respect. Who wants a weakling as leader?

    In America, the people want millionaires as their leaders. Intelligence takes the back seat. After all, they think only a millionaire gets respect. Who wants a bum as a leader!

  5. According to the governmentspending site, 45% of the American economy is government spending - and much of the rest is indirectly influenced by government policies. Who buys the politicians' votes? It sure isn't you and me!

    We should divorce the government and the economy, for the same reason that church and government were divorced long ago - absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    A good starting place would be that government-chartered cartel of banks, the Federal Reserve System, which is pumping money directly into the pockets of that top 1% on Wall Street.

  6. In my view until our govt addresses the basic structural problems in our financial system of too much debt, we will not have a sustainable recovery. So while the stock market can stay irrational in the shorter term, in the long run I believe it will go back to reflecting the fundamentals of our boom and bust economy. And that's why I continue to feel that for long term investors a better portfolio allocation is in cash and gold. I think the gold price will continue to rise due to a lack of faith in central banks' policies and in fiat currencies. I recently saw a very interesting articles called Gold Price Up, Dollar Down - Does it Really Matter? which I think is particularly useful for investors to read to get a better sense of what's going on in the economy and the govt's role in influencing it.

  7. Just look at Walmart and it's discrimination against women who spend at least 70% of the money there....And think about what they say about minimum wage and remember that 5 of the 10 richest people are WALTONS, so as a family they have more money than Billy and Warren together....and all the goods come from CHINA....and they pay their people squat while you and I pay for the Medicaid and Food Stamps for their employees...


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