Never before in American history has so much wealth been concentrated in the hands of so few. Once upon a time, children throughout the United States were taught that America was the land of opportunity where anyone can make it if they work really hard. But today the system is designed so that wealth flows into the pockets of the rich as the rest of us struggle feverishly to stay above water. The once great middle class that did so much to define America as a nation is slowly being squeezed out of existence. For tens of millions of ordinary Americans, the American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Nightmare. The labor of blue collar workers was once the engine that built the United States into an economic powerhouse, but today many of those workers have been replaced by robots and computers, or their jobs have been shipped overseas by greedy corporate executives. Those who are in a position to exploit advances in technology and third world labor pools are becoming exceedingly wealthy, while the rest of us are left wondering why it seems as though we are working harder and harder for less and less. The sad truth is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. A very small percentage of Americans are sitting on massive piles of cash while an increasing number of Americans are having to rely on government handouts just to survive. So is this a good thing for America?
Of course not.
It is never a good thing for the vast majority of the wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a very small sliver of the population.
But this is what happens when we allow economic power to be monopolized by a small handful of insanely powerful global banks, corporations and governments.
As long as we allow giant economic powerhouses to dominate the landscape they are going to continue to soak up the vast majority of the wealth while the rest of us will have to be content with the crumbs which fall to the floor.
Anyone who believes that the U.S. economy today resembles anything like the free enterprise capitalist system upon which this country was founded is severely deluded.
The truth is that we have allowed giant corporate and governmental entities to accumulate economic power for so long that now they are pretty much out of our control.
Those at the top will continue to enjoy our wealth as it flows up to them, and those of us at the bottom will continue to have to scramble just to survive.
The following are 16 signs that the rich are rapidly getting richer and the poor are rapidly getting poorer….
#1) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
#2) A USA Today analysis of government data has found that paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of 2010. During the same time period, government benefits (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc.) rose to a record high.
#3) According to the United Nations, the United States now has the highest level of income inequality of all of the highly industrialized nations.
#4) Four of the biggest banks in the United States (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup) had a “perfect quarter” with zero days of trading losses during the first quarter of 2010.
#5) According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two-thirds of income increases in the United States between 2002 and 2007 went to the wealthiest 1% of all Americans.
#6) 39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps, which represents a new all-time record. But things look like they are going to get even worse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.
#7) For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
#8) Over just one three day period, approximately 10,000 people showed up to apply for just 90 jobs making washing machines in Kentucky for $27,000 a year.
#9) Executives at many of the big banks that received massive amounts of government bailout money during the financial crisis are being lavished with record bonuses as millions of other Americans continue to suffer.
#10) Younger generations of Americans are particularly struggling. For example, according to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey, only 58% of those in “Generation Y” pay their monthly bills on time.
#11) Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
#12) Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008. Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.
#13) An analysis of income tax data by the Congressional Budget Office a couple years ago found that the top 1% wealthiest households in the United States now own nearly twice as much of the corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
#14) A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
#15) Once great blue collar manufacturing cities such as Detroit have turned into rusted-out war zones while corporate executives rake in record bonuses by moving factories to third world nations.
#16) The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth. So what does that say about America when nearly half the people are dividing up just one percent of the pie?