Net worth of top 1%: $41.52 trillion
Net worth of bottom 50%: $2.62 trillion
The problem is not that 50% of Americans are “too lazy”. It’s that the system has enabled 1% of Americans to hoard wealth.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 22, 2021
By the start of 2021, the richest 1% of Americans held 32% of the nation’s wealth, its highest level since these records began in 1989.
The bottom 50%, meanwhile, held just 2% of the nation’s wealth.
Only the Rich Could Love This Economic Recovery
When I graduated college in 1968, the typical corporate CEO got 20 times the pay of the average worker.
When I became labor secretary in 1993, the ratio was 61-to-1.
Today, the ratio is 320-to-1.
Capitalism is off the rails.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) February 25, 2021
… the question that Eric Levitz poses in New York Magazine is provocative. And the data, certainly, illustrate the severity of the income shift that has taken place over the past 45 years.
Specifically, Levitz examines a study by Carter Price and Kathryn Edwards from the Rand Corporation. And, yes, that is the same Rand Corporation of Pentagon Papers fame, so it’s fair to call it an establishment-based source. Anyhow, Price and Edwards in their study, which was conducted in partnership with the Fair Work Center, ask the following question: If the share of worker income to total income were the same in 2018 as in 1975, and growth was the same, how much would the median worker earn in 2018?
The answer: $92,000. That’s a full $42,000 greater than the actual 2018 median worker income, which was $50,000.
The Cost of Inequality: $42,000 per Median US Worker
The most expensive thing you own is a really old car.
Having a lawyer’s business card in your wallet.
Being called Duke. Or Earl.
Living at a hotel
Getting money from the government.
Showing up to a formal occasion in t-shirt and jeans.
Substance abuse. Rich people are ‘troubled’ whereas poor people are just junkies.
Also mental disorders. Howard Hughes locks himself in his room, doesn’t shower and starts pissing in bottles and he’s an eccentric genius that gets a movie made about him by Martin Scorsese. Dude down the block does it and he’s just a nut.
My take – Moving around. If you’re rich it means you travel and are jet set. If you’re poor it means your transient and rootless.
A fair chance for children
- Create a federal savings account for every newborn child.
- Eliminate single-family zoning, as Minneapolis did in 2018.
- Provide universal prekindergarten for 4-year-olds.
- Spend more on the education of lower-income children.
- Get rid of lead water pipes. All of them.
A stronger safety net
- Provide housing vouchers to all eligible families.
- Reward cities that allow more housing construction.
- Expand the program to end homelessness among veterans to all Americans.
- Restore federal funding for public health agencies.
The will of the people
The $16.60 per hour Ms. Ramos earns as a janitor at Apple works out to about the same in inflation-adjusted terms as what Ms. Evans earned 35 years ago. But that’s where the similarities end.
Ms. Evans was a full-time employee of Kodak. She received more than four weeks of paid vacation per year, reimbursement of some tuition costs to go to college part time, and a bonus payment every March. When the facility she cleaned was shut down, the company found another job for her: cutting film.
Ms. Ramos is an employee of a contractor that Apple uses to keep its facilities clean. She hasn’t taken a vacation in years, because she can’t afford the lost wages. Going back to school is similarly out of reach. There are certainly no bonuses, nor even a remote possibility of being transferred to some other role at Apple.
Yet the biggest difference between their two experiences is in the opportunities they created. A manager learned that Ms. Evans was taking computer classes while she was working as a janitor and asked her to teach some other employees how to use spreadsheet software to track inventory. When she eventually finished her college degree in 1987, she was promoted to a professional-track job in information technology.
To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now
Moore says the deaths of Freddie Gray and George Floyd highlight injustices that go beyond police brutality.
“The justice that’s also being sought must be an economic justice. It must be health justice. It must be housing justice,” Moore says. “If we permit these tragedies to recede from our memory, we will risk the opportunity to change the systems that are ultimately responsible for all of these injustices.”
Overall, the richest 0.1 percent of American households own 19.6 percent of the nation’s total wealth, up from 15.9 percent in 2005 and 7.4 percent in 1980. The richest 0.1 percent now have the same combined net worth as the bottom 85 percent.
The wealth trends have been especially hard on younger Americans. The median net worth of Americans under age 35 — who started off substantially poorer on average than older Americans — is 40 percent lower than the net worth of Americans under 35 was in 2004. The net worth of Americans over age 65, by contrast, has risen 9 percent over the same period. The Boomers, in short, are richer than their predecessors, and Millennials and Generation X are poorer than their predecessors.