The economic elite have at least $46 trillion in wealth. The majority of this wealth is held within the upper one-tenth of one percent of the population. [Most people cannot even comprehend how much $1 trillion is, let alone $46 trillion. One trillion is equal to 1000 billion, or $1,000,000,000,000. To put it in perspective, last year the entire cost of feeding all 40 million Americans on food stamps was $65 billion.]
US millionaire household wealth has reached an unprecedented level. According to an extensive study by auditing and financial advisory firm Deloitte, US millionaire households now have $38.6 trillion in wealth. On top of the $38.6 trillion this study reveals, they have an estimated $6.3 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.
According to the latest IRS data, only 0.076 percent of the population, less than one-tenth of one percent, earned over $1 million in 2009. In fact, 1,470 Americans earned over $1 million in 2009 and didn’t pay any taxes.
The highest bracket for annual income is $50 million or more. Only 74 Americans are in this elite group. The average income within this category was $91.2 million in 2008. As astonishing as that is, in 2009 they averaged $518.8 million each, or about $10 million per week. This means, in the depths of the recession, the richest 74 Americans increased their income by more than five times within this one year. These 74 people made more money than 19 million workers combined.
In context, overall, the richest 400 people in the US have as much wealth as 154 million Americans combined, that’s 50 percent of the entire country. The top economic 1 percent of the US population now has a record 40 pecent of all wealth, and have more wealth than 90 percent of the population combined.
To get into the top economic 0.01 percent (one-hundredth of one percent) of the population, you have to have a household income of over $27 million per year.
Deloitte’s analysis predicated, based on current trends, that US millionaire households will see a 225 percent increase in wealth to $87.1 trillion by 2020. Accounting for wealth hidden in offshore accounts, they are projected to have over $100 trillion in total within the next decade.
William Domhoff, sociology professor and author of Who Rules America? explains “Unlike those in the lower half of the top 1%, those in the top half and, particularly, top 0.1%, can often borrow for almost nothing, keep profits and production overseas, hold personal assets in tax havens, ride out down markets and economies, and influence legislation in the US. They have access to the very best in accounting firms, tax and other attorneys, numerous consultants, private wealth managers, a network of other wealthy and powerful friends, lucrative business opportunities, and many other benefits."
A highly complex and largely discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the US financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth. They have real power and real wealth.The dramatic increase in economic inequality and poverty, along with the unprecedented rise in wealth within the top one-tenth of one percent of the population has not happened by mistake. It is the designed result of deliberate governmental and economic policy. It is the result of the richest people in the world, and the “too big to fail” banks, using the campaign finance and lobbying system to buy off politicians who implement policies designed to exploit 99.9 percent of the population for their financial gain. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%. the American dream of striking it rich is merely a well-marketed fantasy that keeps the bottom 99.5% hoping for better and prevents social and political instability. The odds of getting into that top 0.5% are very slim and the door is kept firmly shut by those within it.
Former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had already amassed at least $700 million prior to moving to the US Treasury in 2006. Current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and a few other top executives at Goldman Sachs just received $111.3 million in bonuses. Blankfein just took home $24.3 million, as part of a $67.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s President Gary Cohn took home $24 million, as part of a $66.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s CFO David Viniar and former co-president Jon Winkelried both took home over $20 million in bonuses. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit just took home $80 million, in what may eventually total more than $200 million in compensation and bonuses. Coming in at the top of the list is JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who just took home $90 million.
Health insurance CEOs are giving them a run for their money. Leaders of Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna received nearly $200 million in compensation in 2009, according to a report. H. Edward Hanway, former chief executive of Philadelphia-based Cigna, topped the list of high-paid executives, thanks to a retirement package worth $110.9 million. Cigna paid Hanway and his successor, David Cordani, a total of $136.3 million last year. Ron Williams, the CEO of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Inc., earned nearly $18.2 million in total compensation, down from $24.4 million in 2008. Aetna CEO Ron Williams has recovered from hisdownyear in 2009 by making $72 million in 2010. Ron Williams, the CEO of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Inc., earned nearly $18.2 million in total compensation, down from $24.4 million in 2008. Aetna CEO Ron Williams has recovered from his down year in 2009 by making $72 million in 2010. Given this level of obscene profiteering within the health care industry, it is not surprising that Americans pay more for medical care than any other nation in the world. In fact, Americans are forced to pay twice as much as most nations, and get lower quality care in return. As health insurance companies admitted, they have been reaping windfall profits because people with health insurance plans still cannot afford to go to the doctors and have stopped going unless it is an absolute emergency. With well over 50 million people unable to afford health insurance and the skyrocketing costs, it is not surprising that over 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies are the result of medical bills. In fact, 75 percent of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have health insurance.
Taken from here , an adapted excerpt of David DeGraw’s new report Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America.