Friday, January 04, 2013

The two-mile high club

The 100 richest people in the world got $241 billion wealthier in 2012 bringing their total net worth to $1.9 trillion. These 100 people have more combined wealth than the entire GDP of nations like Italy, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Australia, and about 170 other nations.

As the annual Forbes 400 list of 2012 showed, America’s richest billionaires saw their wealth increase by $200 billion last year bringing their total net worth to $1.7 trillion. 49 million Americans are still in poverty. Also, 46 million Americans are on food stamps because they don’t have enough money to feed their families.

In 1966, TIME magazine predicted a coming “leisure society” in which workers would benefit from increased productivity as a result of automation and technology, and see their wages increase despite working fewer and fewer hours. The leisure society,alas, never came to be. Productivity went up considerably, as TIME magazine predicted, but wages stagnated and stayed flat. The typical hourly wage for an American worker increased a measly $1.23 over the last 36 years, after accounting for inflation. Meanwhile, the top 1% have seen their incomes increase by 275% since Reagan's election. Today, workers’ wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low. Yet, corporate profits as a percentage of GDP is at an all-time high.

The total wealth of the average American family is $57,000. Convert that into hundred-dollar bills, and it’s a stack about 2 inches tall.  The one-percenters, at an income of around $300,000 a year, earn a stack every year that's about a foot high.  But the average wealth of the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list is $4.2 billion. Convert that into a stack of hundred-dollar bills and it would reach over two miles into the sky.

From here

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