One of many pressure points from the Occupy Wall Street protests raging in The big apple and other American cities is the huge gap between the “haves” and everyone else. There are numerous levels of wealth among even the wealthiest of the rich.Three years ago, the top 0.01 percent of earners controlled over 4 percent of America’s wealth, as researched by Visualizing Economics. The bottom 90 % controlled just over fifty percent.
The gap between the super-wealthy and everyone else wasn’t always so large. The share of income for the top 1 percent of earners in America more than doubled between the 1980s and the end of 2008. Contributing the widening of the income at the top were executive compensation, high salaries for superstars in sports and entertainment, the financial services industry, and capital gains income, which only go to higher-income people. Capital gains also has many tax advantages that add to the income gap. Higher-income households got a larger share of the pie, while all other households lost ground.
Numbers Don’t Lie
- The top 1 percent of the population’s wealth more than doubled, rising to 17 % from over 8 % in 1979.
- The upper fifth of the population received 50+ % of after-tax household income, up from over 40 % in 1979.
- The lowest fifth of the population received only 5 % of after-tax household income, down from a paltry 7 % in 1979.
- The Americn middle class saw their after-tax wealth slide over 2 %.
Though income inequality may be particularly striking in the U.S., it’s by no means contained to a single country. Worldwide, millionaires will control over 35 percent of all global wealth. This number will only grow; by the end of this decade the global wealth of rich households in leading economies will more than double. Millionaire household budgets will continue to grow.
As the number of wealthy global citizens grows the financial “health” of the rest of humanity is getting tenuous. The median income dropped last year for the second year in a row to 26K per year. Twenty percent of American households consider their financial situation as “bad.” This sentiment is a larger share than American households had before the Great Recession.
The “99 percent” Isn’t Happy
Who are the 99 percent? They are the Americans getting kicked out of thier homes. They are often forced to choose between food and rent. Many are denied good medical care. Most are working long hours for little pay, if they are lucky to work at all. The 99 percent earn very little while the other 1 percent is “getting” everything without working for what they get.
Occupy Your Budget
Rethinking the family or personal budget during this recession is one way to cope with income inequality during this new gilded age. During a recession it is vital to stop all impulse spending and unnecessary purchases. Creating and staying on a personal budget is the only way to keep you and those you care about financially viable. Create a budget and track your spending. You many or may not agree with all or some of the Occupy Wall Street tactitcs. But most of the Occupy Wall Street demands are financial pressure points most Americans agree on. Use the Occupy Wall Street protest as an excuse to really think about how you personally manage your money. Carefully manage your accounts, keep track of your expenses and pay off debts. Don’t be a pawn in the global economy.
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