10K80 by August Prum November 9, 2017
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Jeff Bezos have more wealth between them than half of the population of the United States.
The Microsoft co-founder, Berkshire Hathaway CEO, and Amazon founder symbolize the wild concentration of wealth for America’s 1 percent, and the disparity between the poorest and wealthiest Americans.
This data comes from a recent report out of DC think tank Institute for Policy Studies. The raw statistics from the report are pretty harrowing. Most worrying is the trend that as more money rolls in for America’s billionaires, the rest of the country is floundering economically.
Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, authors of the study, wrote about that rapid increase in wealth,
“In 1982, a wealthy American needed $75 million to enter the Forbes 400 list. The minimum wealth necessary in 2017: $2 billion. The 1982 price of admission amounted, in today’s dollars, to $189 million, less than a tenth of the wealth of today’s poorest Forbes 400 affluents The United States is becoming, as the French economist Thomas Piketty warns, a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.”
The most powerful indicator of wealthy people in America is who their parents are. And as billionaires continue to thrive, many Americans are living on the edge,
“Families with no financial reserves face enormous stress,” the report says. “Reserves amount to life preservers for people who experience job loss, illness, divorce, or even car trouble. Even those low- and middle-income families who do have some wealth often don’t have any liquid assets — cash or savings — at their disposal. Over 60 percent of Americans report not having enough savings to cover a $500 emergency.”
We haven’t seen wealth disparity like this since the turn of the 20th century. The report stated,
“The elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us. We have not witnessed such extreme levels of concentrated wealth and power since the first Gilded Age a century ago. Such staggering levels of wealth inequality threaten our democracy, compound racial and class divisions, undermine social cohesion, and destabilize our economy.”
This is the shitty reality of American economics of late. As the wealthiest people in the country increase their net worths unabated, much of the United States lives in poverty.
Spoiler alert: Trump’s tax plan will make this much, much, much worse.