“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class,
While 68.3 million Americans struggle to get enough food to eat and wages are declining for 90% of the population, US millionaire household wealth has reached an unprecedented level. According to an extensive study by auditing and financial advisory firmDeloitte, US millionaire households now have$38.6 trillion in wealth. On top of the $38.6 trillion that this study reveals, they have an estimated $6.3 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.
In total, US millionaire households have at least $45.9 trillion in wealth, the majority of this wealth is held within the upper one-tenth of one percent of the population.
If all this isn’t obscene enough, to further demonstrate how the global economy has now been completely rigged, Deloitte’s analysis predicated, based on current trends, that US millionaire households will see a 225% increase in wealth to $87.1 trillion by 2020. Accounting for wealth hidden in offshore accounts, they are projected to have over $100 trillion in total within the next decade.
Most people cannot even comprehend how much $1 trillion is, let alone $46 trillion. One trillion is equal to 1000 billion, or$1,000,000,000,000. To put it in perspective, last year the entire cost of feeding all 40 million Americans on food stamps was $65 billion.
Now consider, according to the latest IRS data, only 0.076% of the population, less than one-tenth of one percent, earned over $1 million in 2009.
The graph below, based on data from the Tax Policy Center, shows how much income is earned by a household at any given percentile in income distribution:
The highest bracket for annual income is $50 million or more. Only 74 Americans are in this elite group. The average income within this category was $91.2 million in 2008. As astonishing as that is, in 2009 they averaged$518.8 million each, or about $10 million per week. This means, in the depths of the recession, the richest 74 Americans increased their income by more than 5 times within this one year. These 74 people made more money than 19 million workers combined.
In context, overall, the richest 400 people in the US have as much wealth as 154 million Americans combined, that’s 50% of the entire country. The top economic 1% of the US population now has a record 40% of all wealth, and have more wealth than 90% of the population combined.
Here is an analysis from an investment manager with mega-wealthy clients breaking down the economic top 0.5% of the population, recently published by William Domhoff, sociology professor and author of Who Rules America?:
To get into the top economic 0.01% (one-hundredth of one percent) of the population, you have to have a household income of over $27 million per year.
If you look at some of the central players who caused this economic crisis, you will see that they are among this Economic Elite group.
Former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had already amassed at least $700 million prior to moving to the US Treasury in 2006. Current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and a few other top executives at Goldman Sachs just received $111.3 million in bonuses. Blankfein just took home $24.3 million, as part of a $67.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s President Gary Cohn took home $24 million, as part of a $66.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s CFO David Viniar and former co-president Jon Winkelried both took home over $20 million in bonuses.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit just took home $80 million, in what may eventually total more than $200 million in compensation and bonuses. Coming in at the top of the list is JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who just took home $90 million.
If you think people in this income level don’t control the US political process, you are not paying attention. After they caused this economic crisis, they got the government to give them trillions of dollars in taxpayer support, and then, after taking our tax dollars, they gave themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses. 2009 was an all-time record-breaking year for Wall Street executives bringing in a total of $145 billion. And then, in 2010, they raised the bar even higher, breaking the all-time record set the year before by pulling in another $149 billion. The audacity of it all is stunning.
Finding people more grotesquely greedy than Wall Street executives would seem to be impossible. However, health insurance CEOs are giving them a run for their money. As the LA Timesreported:
Aetna CEO Ron Williams has recovered from his down year in 2009 by making $72 million in 2010.
Given this level of obscene profiteering within the health care industry, it is not surprising that Americans pay more for medical care than any other nation in the world. In fact, Americans are forced to pay twice as much as most nations, and get lower quality care in return. As health insurance companies admitted, they have been reaping windfall profits because people with health insurance plans still cannot afford to go to the doctors and have stopped going unless it is an absolute emergency. With well over 50 million people unable to afford health insurance and the skyrocketing costs, it is not surprising that over 60% of all personal bankruptcies are the result of medical bills. In fact, 75% of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have health insurance.
Within this Economic Elite group, you also have the war profiteering oil companies, which themselves are in large part owned by the big Wall Street banks. The biggest five oil companies, while gas prices have been skyrocketing, reaped $36 billion in profit last quarter. These companies also receive an average of $6 billion per year in tax subsidies.
To further demonstrate how the mega-wealthy have seized control our political process, consider that the richest 400 Americans paid 30% of their income in taxes in 1995, but they now payonly 18%.
In fact, 1,470 Americans earned over $1 million in 2009 and didn’t pay any taxes.
The average tax rate for millionaires was 22.4% in 2009, down from 30.4% in 1995. The average millionaire saves $136,000 a year due to reduced tax rates.
Looking at the tax rate from a long-term perspective, the amount of money the richest people and most profitable corporations pay in taxes has fallen dramatically since 1955. Corporate tax accounted for 27.3% of federal revenue in 1955. In 2010, corporate tax accounted for only 8.9%of federal revenue. Corporate taxes accounted for 4.3% of overall GDP in 1955, in 2010 they accounted for only 1.3%.
The cuts in taxes for the mega-wealthy have led to record wealth inequality and resulted in a record national deficit. Meanwhile, to make up for the deficit that the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population has created, Democrats and Republicans are committed to making draconian budget cuts to vital social services, which target the poor, middle class, elderly and sick, while handing out billions more in corporate welfare annually. (Inequality = Debt = Austerity)
Just as the government has done, to make up for tax revenue lost to the mega-wealthy, Americans have made up for the decline in income by taking on large amounts of debt as well. (Inequality = Debt)
In a severely unequal society, massive debt will always be created, thus forming a vicious cycle of increasing inequality and increasing debt, until the fragmentation of society reaches a breaking point when those in debt cannot afford to pay back their debts without starving to death. We are now reaching that breaking point. (Inequality = Debt = Austerity = Civil Unrest)
The Indentured Servant Has Become The Indebted Citizen
As for statistics on Americans being buried in financial debt, the indentured servant has evolved into the indebted citizen. As mentioned before, from 1990 – 2010 costs of living have increased 67%, while wages have stagnated and declined. As the national debt has reached a record $14.6 trillion, total personal debt is now over $16 trillion. Consumer debt is $2.5 trillion. Credit card debt is $805 billion and student debt now exceeds $1 trillion.
Obviously, the more severe your debts are, the more you have to cut back in spending and the less money you have to buy new items. (Debt = Austerity)
Meanwhile, a perfect storm circles overhead as society breaks down and falls into an economic death spiral – health care, food and gas costs are skyrocketing, while income and home values are plummeting. (Inflation + Deflation = Stagflation)
Given these conditions, it is not surprising that over 250 million Americans, another record-breaking number, are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck struggling to make ends meet.
The following charts, from Advisor Perspectives, show the increase in costs of living since 2000:
As you can see, the price of basic necessities are consistently increasing, only clothing (apparel) has declined. The second chart highlights the crucial skyrocketing cost of energy:
The third chart highlights the pernicious skyrocketing cost of education:
The cost of education essentially buries a young person in a debt that they will spend a significant portion of their life attempting to get out of. Given the increasing costs of living, and the decreasing ability to make an expected income from such an expensive level of education, this young demographic will most likely live an entire life locked into spiraling levels of debt that they will never be able to get out of.
When reporting on inflation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has twice, since 1980, revised their methodology to mask the severity of inflation, similar to how they mask the severity of unemployment. In their Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation, they have heavily discounted the measurement weight of energy, food and education – three of the most significant costs for most American households.
To understand the significance in their revised methodology, current “official” CPI is at a 3.6% annual rate. However, if calculated the way it was before former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan altered it in 1980, it would be 11.1%, three times worse than officially stated.
The increase in gas cost over the past one-year masks the severity of total gas price inflation, which is currently 125% more expensive since December 2008, increasing from $1.67 per gallon to $3.75.
The Hidden Tax
The Federal Reserve’s strategic policy known as Quantitative Easing (QE) has been a significant factor in the rising cost of basic necessities by deliberately stimulating inflation, while decreasing the value of the dollar. Looking at their recent QE2 program, the dollar lost 7.5% of its value from January 2010 through March 2010. From August 2010 through March 2011, the dollar lost 17%of its value. To understand how this acts as a hidden tax, consider if you had $10,000 in the bank, over this time frame you would have lost $1700 in purchasing power. So your $10,000 would now be worth $8300. At the same time, the cost of gas and food drastically increased.
The Phantom Recovery
By decreasing the value of the dollar, the Federal Reserve is also inflating the stock market by creating the impression that stock prices are rising, which, when measured in dollars, they have. However, in real terms, their overall value has decreased. To understand how deceptive this strategy has been in giving the appearance of a rising market, instead of measuring overall stock value in dollars, let’s look at their overall value when measured in terms of gold:
Dow/Gold Chart from January 1, 2003 – August 8, 2011
As investor Michael Krieger explains:
Dollar Vs. Gold
When comparing the value of the dollar to the value of gold, the dollar has lost a stunning 84% of its value since 2000. In 2000, gold was worth $279 per ounce, as of August 8, 2011, gold is $1,725 per ounce. In fact, the dollar continues to fall in value while gold continues to rise.
All these factors together create a perfect storm of stagflation. As 90% of Americans experience income declines, and the value of the dollar declines, the price of necessities are rising, while the one major asset many Americans have, a house, is also declining in value. Already, thanks to declining home values, 28% of US homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their home is currently worth. With 10.4 million American families having lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007, Amherst Securities, a leading broker/dealer focused on mortgage-related investments, estimates that another 10.8 million homes are at risk of default over the next six years. This will obviously continue downward pressure on home values.
Confronted With Severe Financial Hardship, Why Do Americans Remain Passive?
With an unprecedented sum of wealth, tens of trillions of dollars, held within the top one-tenth of one percent of the US population, we now have the highest and most severe inequality of wealth in US history. Not even the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age were as greedy as the modern day Economic Elite.
As famed American philosopher John Dewey once said, “There is no such thing as the liberty or effective power of an individual, group, or class, except in relation to the liberties, the effective powers, of other individuals, groups or classes.”
In The Economic Elite Vs. The People, I reported on the strategic withholding of wealth from 99% of the US population over the past generation. Since the mid-1970s, worker production and wealth creation has exploded. As the statistics throughout this report prove, the dramatic increase in wealth has been almost entirely absorbed by the economic top one-tenth of one percent of the population, with most of it going to the top one-hundredth of one percent.
If you are wondering why a critical mass of people desperately struggling to make ends meet are still not fighting back with overwhelming force and running the mega-wealthy aristocrats out of town, let’s consider two significant factors:
Considering the first factor, it is obvious that people have become beaten down psychologically and financially. A report in the Guardian entitled, “Anxiety keeps the super-rich safe from middle-class rage,” suggests that people are so desperate to hold on to what they have that they are too busy looking down to look up: “As psychologists will tell you, fear of loss is more powerful than the prospect of gain. The struggling middle classes look down more anxiously than they look up, particularly in recession and sluggish recovery.”
Considering the second factor, people do not understand how much wealth has been withheld from them. The average person has never personally experienced or seen the excessive wealth and luxury that the mega-rich live in. Wealth inequality has grown so extreme and the wealthy have become so far removed from average society, it is as if the rich exist in some outer stratosphere beyond the comprehension of the average person. As the Guardian report mentioned above also states:
In fact, the average American vastly underestimates the severe wealth disparity that we currently have. This survey, featured in the NY Times, reveals that Americans think our society is far more equal than it actually is:
Here is a chart showing the results from their survey:
The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of US population is unaware of the vast wealth at hand. An entire generation of unprecedented wealth creation has been concealed from 99% of the population for over 35 years. Having never personally experienced or known of this wealth, the average American cannot comprehend what is possible if even a fraction of it was used for the betterment of society as a whole.
In fact, given modern technology and wealth, not a single American citizen should live in poverty. The statistics clearly demonstrate that we now live in a Neo-Feudal society. In comparison to the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the population, who are sitting on top of tens of trillions of dollars in wealth, we are modern day serfs, essentially propagandized peasants.
The fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are struggling to get by, while tens of trillions of dollars are consolidated within a small fraction of the population, is a crime against humanity.
The day the average American fully comprehends how much wealth is consolidated within just the top one-tenth of one percent of the population, there will be a massive uprising and all the paid off politicians will be run out of town.
The next time you are stressed out, struggling to make ends meet and pay off your debts, just think about the trillions of dollars sitting in the obscenely bloated pockets of one-tenth of one percent of the population. The first step in overcoming your peasant status is to understand that you are indeed a peasant. This is a bitter pill to swallow and most will prefer to, as they have been conditioned to do, continue on their path of media-induced delusion, denial, apathy and ignorance.
However, I still cling to the hope that once enough people become aware of this hidden and obscured fact, we can have the non-violent revolution we so urgently need. Until then, the rich get richer as a critical mass with increasingly dire economic prospects desperately struggles to make ends meet.
Other than driving large segments of the American population into poverty, and pushing the majority into massive debt and a state of financial desperation, there is an ever darker side to what is unfolding today. The Economic Elite have turned America into a modern day fascist state.
Fascism is a very powerful word which evokes many strong feelings. People may think that the term cannot be applied to modern day America. However, as Benito Mussolini once summed it up: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” In the early 1900s, the Italians who invented the term fascism also described it as “estato corporativo,” meaning: the corporate state.
Very few Americans would argue the fact that corporations now control our government and have the dominant role in our society. Through a system of legalized bribery – campaign finance, lobbying and the revolving door between Washington and corporations – the most power global corporations dominant the legislative and political process like never before. Senator Huey Long had it right when he warned: “When fascism comes to America, it will come in the form of democracy.”
As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once described fascism: “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes strong than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”
The most blatant modern example of this was the bailout of Wall Street, when the “too big to fail” banks got politicians to promptly hand out trillions of tax dollars in support and subsidies to the very people who caused the crisis, without any of them being held accountable.
Another shocking example of how far we have descended into fascism is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is a group of corporate executives who literally write government legislation. They have gone as far as setting up a system that imprisons the poor and then puts them to work, instead of paying living wages to non-imprisoned workers. Make no mistake, this is a modern day system of slavery unfolding before our eyes.
At the leadership of ALEC and various other Economic Elite organizations, poverty has essentially become a crime. To demonstrate these attacks against the poor, there was $17 billion cut from public housing programs, while there was an increase of $19 billion in programs for building prisons, “effectively making the construction of prisons the nation’s main housing program for the poor.” Before laws began to be rewritten in 1980, with direct input from ALEC, we had a prison population of 500,000 citizens. After laws were rewritten to target poor inner city citizens with much more severe penalties, the US prison population skyrocketed to 2.4 million people.
We now have the largest prison population in the world. With only 4% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the world’s prison population. As I reported previously, in a report entitled, “American Gulag: World’s Largest Prison Complex“:
The dramatic increase in poverty has obviously torn many families apart and caused a devastating psychological toll, but consider the increase in deaths as a result of poverty and severe wealth inequalities. This is a very difficult statistic to accurately measure, but Columbia University’s School of Public Health conducted an intensive examination of mortality and medical data and estimated that “875,000 deaths in the US in 2000 could be attributed to a cluster of social factors bound up with poverty and income inequality.”
As a report by Debra Watson sums up the study, “There is no reason to believe, after a decade that has seen sustained attacks on social programs and consistently high unemployment rates, that the social mortality rate has declined. On the contrary, it has likely risen.” Indeed, poverty and income inequality have skyrocketed since 2000.
Now, let’s consider the fact that, according to the Census Bureau, 31.1 million people lived in poverty in 2000, and according to Columbia’s study 875,000 deaths came as a result. This means that 1 out of every 35.5 people living in poverty die annually as a result of their impoverishment. If you extrapolate this data to the 2009 total of 52.8 million people living in poverty, you get an estimate of 1,486,338 deaths within that year. Even if you use the lower poverty totals from the Census Bureau, 43.6 million people, you get an estimate of 1,228,169 deaths in 2009.
The dramatic increase in economic inequality and poverty, along with the unprecedented rise in wealth within the top one-tenth of one percentof the population has not happened by mistake. It is the designed result of deliberate governmental and economic policy. It is the result of the richest people in the world, and the “too big to fail” banks, using the campaign finance and lobbying system to buy off politicians who implement policies designed to exploit 99.9% of the population for their financial gain. To call what is happening a “financial terrorist attack” on the United States, is not using hyperbole, it is the technical term for what is currently occurring.
Compare the million people who die annually as a result of these economic attacks, to the 2,977 that died on 9/11. As someone who lived three blocks from the World Trade Center, as tragic as 9/11 was, these economic attacks are much more severe and damaging to us as a nation, albeit a much slower and unseen death toll. Nonetheless, the result is of genocidal proportions. One can statistically compare the economic attacks on the US to the invasion of Iraq, which some estimate as leading to one million deaths. Once again, many of those deaths came in brutal and spectacular fashion in bombing campaigns known as “shock and awe.” However, the death toll compares to the hidden brutality of a four-year campaign of economic “shock and awe.” Just as Iraq was invaded, the US has been invaded by a global banking cartel.
As shocking as that is to realize, consider that this is happening throughout the world. While the US poverty death rate is probably higher than in most European countries, the Federal Reserve’s economic policies — along with policies from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Bank of International Settlements — have caused rioting and uprisings over skyrocketing food prices and costs of living throughout the world. The fact of the matter, and very harsh and unfortunate reality of this crisis, is that the global economic central planners are deliberately carrying out genocidal economic policies.
As Che Guevara, a man who took on the global financial elite, once said, “The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible to make the people in general see this.”
When tens of trillions of dollars deliberately flow to the top economic one-tenth of one percent of the global population, while large percentages live in poverty, you have to conclude, in technical terms, that a Neo-Feudal-Fascist state is upon us. The rich have never been richer, while their paid off politicians make budget cuts for the poor and middle class, and cause the cost of basic necessities to skyrocket.