Category: wealth gap

‘Eye-Popping’: Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion | Common Dreams News

Adding to the mountain of statistical evidence showing the severity of U.S. inequality, an analysis published Friday found that the top one percent of Americans gained $21 trillion in wealth since 1989 while the bottom 50 percent lost $900 billion.

via ‘Eye-Popping’: Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion | Common Dreams News

Booming global stock markets swell ranks of the super rich | Business | The Guardian

Global stock markets have boosted the fortunes of the super rich.

The global population of UHNW people, classed as those with more than $30m (£23m) in assets, increased by 12.9% last year to a record 255,810 people, according to a report by research firm Wealth-X.

Only 13.7% of UHNW individuals are women, but the number of women grew by 30% outstripping the 10% rate of growth for men. The study predicts that the size of the ultra-rich population will continue to increase, with the number of UHNW individuals expected to grow to 360,000 by 2022.

via Booming global stock markets swell ranks of the super rich | Business | The Guardian

Turnbull’s plans for national apology to sex abuse victims should take Close the Gap lessons into account

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the report says the government “effectively abandoned” its long-term goals just five years on from the establishment of the policy, in favour of short-term political demands.

“A revolving door of prime ministers, Indigenous affairs ministers and senior bureaucrats have all but halted the steady progress hoped for by First Peoples,” the report said.

“After the initial funding commitments made for the Closing the Gap strategy … the strategy was effectively abandoned with the extensive cuts, over $530 million, made to the Indigenous affairs portfolio in the 2014 federal budget.”

via Turnbull’s plans for national apology to sex abuse victims should take Close the Gap lessons into account

Fueled by Broken Social Contract, Study Finds Inequality and Despair Driving US Life Expectancy Down | Common Dreams

A Reminder

Australian Conservatives are modelling us on America. The the country with world’s  biggest Wealth and Income Gap. Turnbull does want to close the gap by ensuring all Australians can have the advantages and opportunities of Aboriginal Australians and spiral down. ( Old Dog)

“A new report finds that a lack of social services including universal healthcare, public health crises, and declining social mobility have all contributed to growing despair and failing health in the United States, resulting in a decrease in life expectancy for the second year in a row.

According to the study, completed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Urban Institute, a suicide rate that went up 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, and abuse of drugs and alcohol have contributed largely to the decline.”

Fueled by Broken Social Contract, Study Finds Inequality and Despair Driving US Life Expectancy Down | Common Dreams

50% of World’s Wealth Is Controlled by Wealthy 1%

50% of World’s Wealth Is Controlled by Wealthy 1%

Nearly 3.5 billion lower income people reside in developing nations and have less than US$10,000 in income.

50 percent of the world’s wealth is controlled by the wealthy 1 percent, according to a new Global Wealth report which sheds light on the stunning wealth inequality.

50% of World’s Wealth Is Controlled by Wealthy 1%

The American dream? Top 20% pulling away from the rest, study finds | US news | The Guardian

Economics professor Richard Reeves says the upper middle are ‘opportunity hoarding’ – and pulling up the drawbridge behind them

Source: The American dream? Top 20% pulling away from the rest, study finds | US news | The Guardian

James Packer may determine Crown Resorts board’s 50 per cent pay rise

The CEO has tripled his remuneration, and the board want a 50 per cent pay rise, but that’s OK. Crown Resort’s largest shareholder, James Packer, can now help vote through the pay bonanza.

Source: James Packer may determine Crown Resorts board’s 50 per cent pay rise

They get $438k, you get just $48k: figures show the uber-rich are earning more and more

The top 1 per cent of Australian earners amassed an extraordinary 9 per cent of Australian income in 2013, the highest proportion since the 1950s.

Source: They get $438k, you get just $48k: figures show the uber-rich are earning more and more

Open Drum: I fear retirement is just for the rich – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

As the debate continues on superannuation policy, Open Drum asked readers how they envisioned their retirement. For some, the outlook is a tad bleak.

Source: Open Drum: I fear retirement is just for the rich – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Undertaxed: Top 62 Billionaires doubled wealth to Undertaxed: Top 62 Billionaires doubled wealth to $1.76 Trillion since 2010 | Informed Comment.76 Trillion since 2010 | Informed Comment

By Sam Pizzigati | (Inequality.org) | – – Our world’s billionaires don’t merit either their billions, the Oxfam economist Didier …

Source: Undertaxed: Top 62 Billionaires doubled wealth to Undertaxed: Top 62 Billionaires doubled wealth to $1.76 Trillion since 2010 | Informed Comment.76 Trillion since 2010 | Informed Comment

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Mind-Blowing Inequality as America’s 20 Richest Own More Than Bottom Half | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

The divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the United States has never been so vast, with a new report out Tuesday revealing that the nation’s 20 richest individuals own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the population. What’s more, with a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the richest 400 Americans—who include Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune—own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country, or 194 million people.

Source: Mind-Blowing Inequality as America’s 20 Richest Own More Than Bottom Half | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Australia’s rich are getting richer. Everyone else is stagnating | Greg Jericho | Business | The Guardian

Is it fine for inequality to increase as long as everyone’s incomes rise? That worked OK in the boom but now the richest households are pulling away

Source: Australia’s rich are getting richer. Everyone else is stagnating | Greg Jericho | Business | The Guardian

How the Rise of the Working Poor and Nonworking Rich Is Challenging Core American Assumptions

Posted on Mar 31, 2015 By Robert Reich

Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”

In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.


It’s also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.

In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them.

The rise of these two groups — the working poor and non-working rich – is relatively new. Both are challenging the core American assumptions that people are paid what they’re worth, and work is justly rewarded.

Why are these two groups growing?

The ranks of the working poor are growing because wages at the bottom have  dropped, adjusted for inflation. With increasing numbers of Americans taking low-paying jobs in retail sales, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, childcare, elder care, and other personal services, the pay of the bottom fifth is falling closer to the minimum wage.

At the same time, the real value of the federal minimum wage is lower today than it was a quarter century ago.

In addition, most recipients of public assistance must now work in order to qualify.

Bill Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996 pushed the poor off welfare and into work.

Meanwhile, the Earned Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy, has emerged as the nation’s largest anti-poverty program. Here, too, having a job is a prerequisite.

The new work requirements haven’t reduced the number or percentage of Americans in poverty. They’ve just moved poor people from being unemployed and impoverished to being employed and impoverished.

While poverty declined in the early years of welfare reform when the economy boomed and jobs were plentiful, it began growing in 2000. By 2012 it exceeded its level in 1996, when welfare ended.

At the same time, the ranks of the non-working rich have been swelling. America’s legendary “self-made” men and women are fast being replaced by wealthy heirs.

Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.

Americans who became enormously wealthy over the last three decades are now busily transferring that wealth to their children and grand children.

The nation is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. A study from the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects a total of $59 trillion passed down to heirs between 2007 and 2061.

As the French economist Thomas Piketty reminds us, this is the kind of dynastic wealth that’s kept Europe’s aristocracy going for centuries. It’s about to become the major source of income for a new American aristocracy.

The tax code encourages all this by favoring unearned income over earned income.

The top tax rate paid by America’s wealthy on their capital gains — the major source of income for the non-working rich – has dropped from 33 percent in the late 1980s to 20 percent today, putting it substantially below the top tax rate on ordinary income (36.9 percent).

If the owners of capital assets whose worth increases over their lifetime hold them until death, their heirs pay zero capital gains taxes on them. Such “unrealized” gains now account for more than half the value of assets held by estates worth more than $100 million.

At the same time, the estate tax has been slashed. Before George W. Bush was president, it applied to assets in excess of $2 million per couple at a rate of 55 percent. Now it kicks in at $10,680,000 per couple, at a 40 percent rate.

Last year only 1.4 out of every 1,000 estates owed any estate tax, and the effective rate they paid was only 17 percent.

Republicans now in control of Congress want to go even further. Last Friday the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a non-binding resolution to repeal the estate tax altogether. Earlier in the week, the House Ways and Means Committee also voted for a repeal. The House is expected to vote in coming weeks.

Yet the specter of an entire generation doing nothing for their money other than speed-dialing their wealth management advisers is not particularly attractive.

It puts more and more responsibility for investing a substantial portion of the nation’s assets into the hands of people who have never worked.

It also endangers our democracy, as dynastic wealth inevitably and invariably accumulates political influence and power.

Consider the rise of both the working poor and the non-working rich, and the meritocratic ideal on which America’s growing inequality is often justified doesn’t hold up.

That widening inequality — combined with the increasing numbers of people who work full time but are still impoverished and of others who have never worked and are fabulously wealthy —  is undermining the moral foundations of American capitalism.

Will Murdoch’s great unwashed youths rise up? Left in Team Australia’s dust

Left in Team Australia's dust

Even Rupert Murdoch can sense a broad feeling of unrest and deep dislocated disturbance for a generation left in Team Australia’s dust.

By ABC’s Jonathan Green

Rupert Murdoch’s warning of the “inevitable social and political upheavals to come” might very well be spawned from the masses of underemployed youth who are left in Team Australia’s dust, writes Jonathan Green.

His somewhat counterintuitive observations on growing income inequality may have taken the headlines, but what exactly might Rupert Murdoch have had in mind when he spoke of the “inevitable social and political upheavals to come”?

A telling line there from his speech to G20 finance ministers, a reflection on the possible consequences of a generation of young people, from bereft and penniless pockets across the affluent West, left without jobs, prospects, hope or connection.

Whatever mayhem is in store will no doubt be grist for the inflated daily misanthropies of his tabloid press, so there’s a positive, but Murdoch seems genuinely alert to a deepening social divide and the gathering dysfunction that straddles it.

As Paul Kelly wrote in The Australian, reporting his proprietor’s address:

The lack of opportunity for the next generation was “especially troubling” along with the “inevitable social and political upheavals to come”. This was because the unemployment rate for people under 25 years in the US was 13 per cent and in the Eurozone was 23 per cent. It was twice as high in Spain and Greece and parts of France and Italy.

And here?

The Brotherhood of St Laurence crunched the numbers in early September.

It found that 15 per cent of Australian 15-24-year-olds were underemployed: they had some work, but not as much as they either wanted or needed. The rate was the highest it has been since 1978, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics began compiling numbers around youth underemployment.

And actual joblessness? Among the 15-24-year-olds the rate is rattling pretty stubbornly at about the same level of 15 per cent. Combine the two, and according to the Brotherhood, “more than 580,000 young Australians are now either underemployed or unemployed. Overall, this represents more than a quarter of 15 to 24-year-olds in the labour market.”

According to the Government, this is an issue of industry and motivation. While they might dream of “lifting” the young un and underemployed are presumably “leaning” for the moment.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews may have ruled out drug testing them, but still wants them to work harder for their meagre unemployment benefit, a rate of benefit they won’t be able to access in full until the age of 25; never mind the six month wait for benefits and job search diaries that will fill libraries.

According to Treasurer Joe Hockey, “We need people under the age of 30 to earn or learn.”

“There isn’t a crisis,” says Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

Try fruit picking, says Employment Minister Eric Abetz:

There is no right to demand from your fellow Australians that just because you don’t want to do a bread delivery or a taxi run or a stint as a farmhand that you should therefore be able to rely on your fellow Australian to subsidise you.

Meanwhile, there are 580,000 young Australians with no good reason to get up in the morning.

They’re across the country, in regional centres stripped of life and purpose, in outer suburban sweeps detached from the jobs, infrastructure and resource lifeblood of the cities of which they are only nominally a part.

Is it here, in the great boondocks of welfare dependent apathy and creeping disdain that Mr Murdoch’s “inevitable social and political upheavals” will arise?

Will it be among a growing and increasingly hopeless underclass, a quarter of our young population who lack even the humdrum social connection of work, never mind an instinctive affinity with Team Australia.

The outcome? Some will turn to drugs. Some to crime. Some to simple indolence. Some will struggle desperately against a conspiracy of circumstances. Some will succeed. Some will be radicalised, their heads filled with talk of jihad and visions of violent glory.

National security legislation whistles through the parliament, unspecified foreign destinations are proscribed, the capacity of the media to reflect on the operations of our secret police is constrained … all of it deemed essential to subdue the threat of terror, particularly the challenge of the “lone wolf”.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars are pulled from GP-based mental health programs. Program funding in youth psychosis services is cut or uncertain, the entire provision of mental health is a place of policy limbo pending review.

And what do we know about the most recent lone wolf, the man who ran amok in the Canadian parliament? That his actions were as likely the result of drug and mental health issues as radical Islam.

We’ve been asked to take the parallel to heart.

Stopping radicalised young Australians from boarding whatever flight it may be that runs direct to Damascus is one thing, nipping the deep social roots of radicalisation and disturbance is another.

It may be that these men act out their violence not because, as is so often argued, they hate the things we are … it could be because those things “we are” are applied with such inequality, or in some places not at all.

The result will be illness, anger, despair and perhaps jihad … but it might also be a broader sense of unrest and deep dislocated disturbance for a generation left in Team Australia’s dust.

Even Rupert Murdoch can see that.