Shocking FACTS about U.S. income & wealth inequality

Tue, 13 Feb 2001


After 8 years of a genuinely sociopathic "New Democrat" as President of the United States the appalling inequality of income and wealth that was exacerbated under the Republican President Reagan actually WORSENED.

At a time when the top 1% of U.S. citizens owns more wealth than the bottom 95% the new U.S. President wants to further cut the taxes of that wealthiest 1% while vast numbers of the bottom 95% live paycheck- to-paycheck and owe enormous credit card debts.

Whether Democrat or Republican, whether Gore or Bush, the result is the same: the U.S. is damn close to becoming a Third World nation. Perhaps if more poor people in Honduras, the Philippines, India or other Third World countries had credit cards they, too -- like so many heavily-indebted Americans -- would delude themselves that they were "well-off".

The fact is that tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was 88% in the two decades following World War II, a time when the U.S. economy was booming. Working-class and middle-class Americans saved more and charged less then, too.

What follows are some disturbing facts (from about just how far from a fair economy we've come, notwithstanding the joint Dem-GOP deceitful propaganda that claims most Americans are "better-off" nowadays:

* Since the mid-1970s, the most fortunate one percent of households have doubled their share of the national wealth. They now hold more wealth than the bottom 95 percent of the population. (Shifting Fortunes)

* In 1998, 18.7 percent of American children lived in poverty, a lower rate than 1993 (19.6 percent), but higher than the 1979 rate of 16.4 percent. (Columbia University,

* Nine states have reduced child poverty rates by more than 30% since 1993. These states include Tennessee, Michigan, Aransas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois and New Jersey. Michigan is a prime example of a national trend, in that even the recent, dramatic improvement did not counter the losses of the previous 15 years, in which its poverty rate increased 121%. (Columbia University)

* In California, the number of children living in poverty has grown from 900,000 in 1979, to 2.15 million in 1998. (Columbia University)

* Nearly 3 percent of all workers live under the federal poverty line, defined in 1998 as $13,003 for a family of three. Counting dependents, this encompasses roughly 5 million people.(The Conference Board, contact Linda Barrington, 212-339-0481)

* In 1998, the top 1 percent of stock owners owned 47.7 percent of all stock, while the bottom 80 percent owned 4.1 percent. Between 1989 and 1998, nearly 35 percent of all stock market gains went to the top 1 percent of shareholders. 64 percent of American households have stock holdings worth $5,000 or less, or own no stock at all. (Economic Policy Institute)

* Between 1995 and 1998, the total wealth of the typical American household rose from $58,800 to $61,000. The average value of stock holdings rose $5,500, the value of non-stock assets (mostly homes) climbed $8,500, and household debt increased $11,800. (Economic Policy Ins