16 Signs That The Rich Are Getting Richer And The Poor Are Getting Poorer

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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was once the engine that built the United States into an economic powerhouse, but today many of those workers have been replaced by robots and computers, or their jobs have been shipped overseas by greedy corporate executives.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?

  • Gary

    As I have said before-the only answer is to redistribute the wealth. Socialism is the only way to go. We need to be much more like Europe and a social democracy. As this article proves all we need to do is tax the rich. There is plenty of money. Spread the wealth. How can anyone who is not rich ever vote republican?

  • Greg

    Gary is the epitome of a duped, gullible, useful idiot. But you know what Gary, I use to be stupid too, thinking “my man” (politician) could make things better. Then I learned that the rich and powerful don’t care whether you vote R, D, S, L or I – they own all of the politicians and control all political outcomes. Gary!!! They aren’t going to redistribue the wealth. They are going to continue to destroy our health and fertility, tax us to oblivion, give themselves tax breaks and take our money through printing billions more for themselves, etc. After they get impatient with the poisons not killing us fast enough they will incorporate full scale genocide. Your hope, Gary, is not Socialism. Your ONLY hope is to find refuge in Jesus Christ.

  • Kevin

    I disagree. Socialism makes the masses more or less equal but there’s still the oligarchs who control most of everything else. If you look at property ownership rates in Europe and the U.S. I would imagine they’re the same or worse. We are already the products of a highly socialized system of food stamps, welfare, medicare, and a ballooning and suffocating bureaucracy. Anyone who believes the U.S. (or any other Western Country) operates under a system of free enterprise needs to take a serious look at how the political and economic systems in this country are stilted toward Washington and Wall Street. The problem is the centralization of capital and power in Washington and on Wall Street, putting more power in the the hands of fewer and fewer individuals. Break up the large banks and promote a community banking or credit union system. Actually enforce anti-trust regulation. Promote the ownership of private property and encourage entrepreneurship and small business, which most politicians only play lip-service. Remove the U.S. from the WTO and other free-trade organizations as this has obviously only aided in the centralization of capital and the destruction of blue collar America. Repeal the 17th Amendment (popular election of Senators) and allow them to be appointed by the individual state legislatures as originally intended; this will diffuse the political buying power in Washington among the various states and dilute its influence immensely. Socialism will only increase the effects of the problems we’re having now because it will increase the amount of influence Washington has over communities and saddle them with even more regulation and suffocate free enterprise. Federalism and America as it once was is dead, and the corpse is beginning to smell. It is only with diffusion of power, concentrating on communities and families and looking at the serious moral and ethical degradation (of Wall Street, of Washington, of Middle America (what’s left of it anyway)) that we will ever truly free ourselves from the financial oligarchy and corporatism that have largely defined the 20th and early 21st century America… and world for that matter.

  • Anthony

    Key point…

    “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.”

    No…you do not have the right to have, take or redistribute my or anybody’s money for that matter. You do however have the right to pursue…but again, not to have…

    Socialism is theory is attractive, so is Communism…it doesn’t however work. Competition and individual pursuit drive progressive societies and is key when it comes to growth for a nation or individual.

    So we take back what is ours and not forget why our ancestors fled here. Time to get back to the basics.

  • We ought to be paying more attention to the ideas commonly associated with Henry George. They relate to what we are all equally entitled to: the value of natural resources, and the rental value of the land.

    When we permit individuals and corporations to privatize what is rightly OURS collectively — and then turn around and tax wages and sales and houses — we shoot our economy and economic justice in the foot.

    Kneejerk reactions to the words “socialize” and “common” and “privatize” don’t promote deep thinking. Some things OUGHT to be socialized — and other things ought to be treated as private. IMHO, our current system doesn’t make that differentiation very well.

    None of us creates land value alone. It is created by our presence, our public investment in infrastructure, and permitting any of us to privatize the economic value of what we create TOGETHER is just plain wrong. Socializing the rental value of unimproved land is simple, just and efficient — far superior to the ways we currently gather revenue.

    Explore http://lvtfan.typepad.com/ and http://wealthandwant.com/ for more information. It is radical: it goes to the root of the problem.

    Check out the wealth concentration and income concentration data at both sites.

  • Keith

    Jesus is the answer, he loves you! Read John 3.

  • Greg

    True, Keith, but Americans have a much greater need to understand the wrath of God than the love of God. He loves us enough to tell us that we will spend eternity in hell for the sins that Americans take for granted. Repent and be saved. Repent means to turn away from your sins, not to say a fake “I’m sorry” and continue living like a heathen.

  • Chris

    These are man’s problems, caused by man, to be solved by man, please leave your god out of this.
    What ever happened to the idea of a flat tax? Why can’t everyone be taxed the same percentage? That’s the only fair way.

  • Aaron

    Connect the dots…

    1% of population trades value (products/services) for money and is rich
    99% of population trades time for money and is poor

    so where should you focus your efforts on, hmmmm…

    i make 10k a month doing nothing but rubbing coca butter on my belly on the beaches of thailand, and let poor people run my biz, lol :)

  • Thank you for the article, which indeed makes depressing reading. As yet another Evangelical-type, but not one holding the usual political beliefs associated w/ Evangelicals, I am sad to see the comments here that one should simply call out to Jesus and throw one’s hands in the air as far as America’s economy goes. That’s not loving your neighbor. As someone who lives beneath the poverty line myself and who is involved with ministry to the poorest of the poor in this nation (the homeless), I believe strongly that only a relentless tossing aside of all “isms” as THE answer while borrowing from all of them as parts of an answer is the best approach. More regulation of corporations is a MUST. Taxing the very wealthy more is a must. Working on reducing the national debt, but in ways not unduly punishing to the very poor, is a must. And we Christians especially have no excuse to simply toss in the towel. Christ warned that those caught sitting around upon his return would not be happy with what happens next. Doing justice is part of the Gospel. End of sermon, passing the collection plate… nothing under a $20 bill, thank you… ;-)

  • Steveconomist

    In 1972, the dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin, expelled the rich people from the country due to their avoidance of taxes and manipulation of the poor. Soon afterward, inflation soared and imported goods became impossible to get a hold of. More than a decade later, Idi Amin was overthrown and a new government attempted to get the rich people to return to the country.
    Placing more regulations and taxes on the rich is one of the worst possible things we could ever do. We will simply give them incentive to take their money and ability and invest it in another country.

  • Jane Cook

    I have a problem with knowing according to all my peers there are never anymore raises being given people. I am making less now than I made 2 decades ago!!!! You can’t tell me that the beligerant CEO’s are right thinking we want something for nothing. They will just lay people off in order to get big money in their own wallets!!! And another thing – No insurance (because my husband is out of a job and my job has ridiculously high amounts) equals very high doctor visit ($99 dollars a simple office visit). Help Help Help!!!

  • Nelson

    Do you want to change this inequality between the rich and the poor?
    I believe I have a way to do this, but I need your help. Please e-mail me at nelsonscampain@gmail.com