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The stark realities of inequality

True it is that the figures in this piece on AlterNet apply to the USA - bear in mind as you read the piece that this is supposed to be the country of equal opportunity - but almost certainly it will equally apply, perhaps with some variations, to other nations.

"Any of the ten richest Americans could pay a year's rent for all of America's homeless with their 2012 income.  

The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans.

1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour

Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by  $6 billion in one year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour 'work' week. They used some of the money to try to  kill renewable energystandards around the country.

Their income portrays them, in a society measured by economic status, as a million times more valuable than the  restaurant server who cheers up our lunch hours while hoping to make enough in tips to pay the bills.

A comparison of top and bottom salaries within large corporations is much less severe, but a lot more common. For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the  difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.

2. A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S.

On a winter day in 2012  over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy  (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the  ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S.  for the entire year. These ten rich men together made more than our entire  housing budget.

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.

3. The poorest 47% of Americans have no wealth

In 1983 the poorest  47% of America had $15,000 per family,  2.5 percent of the nation's wealth.

In 2009 the poorest  47% of America owned  ZERO PERCENT of the nation's wealth (their debt exceeded their assets).

At the other extreme, the  400 wealthiest Americans own as much wealth as 80 million families --  62% of America. The reason, once again, is the stock market. 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.

4. The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world

Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of  wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.

Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of the Global Wealth Report, the world's wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017."

Continue reading here.


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