An interesting article by Jack A. Smith, editor of the Activist Newsletter and a former editor of the Guardian (US) radical newsweekly. Some extracts:-
The so-called growing rich-poor gap in “classless” America is a euphemism for the existence of an accelerated class struggle against American workers and the poor by a relatively small minority that possesses or has access to great wealth and power.
According to the Wall St. Journal, a 2008 study of wealth in the United States found that the richest .01% (that’s one-hundredth of one percent, or 14,000 American families) possess 22.2% of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 90%, or over 133 million families, control just 4% of the nation’s wealth. The remaining top 9.99% made ends meet with what’s left, 73.8%.
A recent study done by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management found that a mere 1% of Americans are hoarding $13 trillion in investable wealth…and that doesn’t even factor in all the money they have hidden in offshore accounts.
In 1980 the richest 1% of America took 1 of every 15 income dollars. Now they take 3 of every 15 income dollars.
According to Paul Buchheit of DePaul University in 1965, the average salary for a CEO of a major U.S. company was 25 times the salary of the average worker. Today, the average CEO’s pay is more than 250 times the average worker’s.
The New York Times reported March 31, 2010, “Top hedge fund managers rode the 2009 stock market rally to record gains, with the highest-paid 25 earning a collective $25.3 billion" The annual GDP of nearly 90 UN member nations is lower than what these people took home last year. The highest paid manager on the list was David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, who made $4 billion last year.
Throughout their lives, average Americans are taught by their school, church and corporate mass media that theirs is a classless society, and that the notion of classes, class struggle, or class war is just left wing propaganda. Differences in income are acknowledged — but it is claimed that since upward mobility and attainment of the American Dream are available to everyone if they work hard enough, there is only one class despite gradations in wealth. It’s called the middle class. How often do you hear the politicians of the two ruling parties or the government they administer referring to the working class, lower middle class, the lower class or the upper class and the ruling class? In America, virtually everyone seems to be lumped into the middle class if they are earning between $25,000 and $250,000 a year, which is a preposterous parody of real class relations.
The millions living in poverty are called “the poor” and are in the public mind often blamed for their own plight (lazy, shiftless, ignorant). The very rich are called the “top 1%,” and the simply rich are termed the “top 10%,” and are often admired and thanked because they create the jobs that prevent the inhabitants of the middle class from falling into the ranks of the poor.
The problem isn’t just the disproportion of money in the hands of a small minority while the standards of most American families are eroding, but it is what’s done with all that money. It elects Presidents, governors and mayors in most of the major cities. It elects members of the House and Senate and state legislatures. If you have millions to spend without batting an eye, you have political clout in America, often decisive clout, and it’s principally deployed to further the interests of the “haves,” as opposed to the “have nots.”
This is what is meant by class war, and it seems to be waged these days only by the top 10% (the upper class) that controls 96% of the wealth against the 90% (working class to middle class and lower class) which controls 4%. The bottom 50% by the way accounts for a pathetic 1% of America’s wealth.
Isn’t it time for the “bottom” 90% to stand up, fight back, and claim their share?