The wealthy 1 percent of Americans
Protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York City’s financial district and has since spread to hundreds of cities around the country, are directing their protest against the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. You judge the validity:
FACT #1: The wealthiest 1 percent of households own 34.6 percent of all privately held wealth, and 42.7 percent of all financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home).
An American in the top 1 percent takes in an average of $1.3 million per year, while the average American earns just $33,000 per year. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of Americans — that’s 120 million people — hold just 0.3 percent of the wealth. [Wealth distribution pie chart]
FACT #2: The United States has more income and wealth inequality than most countries that have been studied, including India and China! According to data gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency for 2010, the United States is on par with such countries as Iran and Mexico.
FACT #3: Among the 299 companies listed in the S&P 500 Index, the average CEO’s compensation was $11.4 million in 2010, or 343 times more than the median pay ($33,190) of American workers. In 1980 the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay was just 42:1, and is currently 25:1 in Europe.
According to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), those 299 CEOs have a combined income of $3.4 billion per year, which could pay for 102,325 average American jobs.
FACT #4: Between 1979 and 2005, the average after-tax income for the top 1 percent increased by 176 percent, compared with an increase of only 6 percent for the bottom 20 percent. Between 1990 and 2005, the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3 percent when adjusted for inflation.
FACT #5: Most Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution is as concentrated as it is, but regardless of their gender, age, income level or party affiliation, they believe wealth should be much more evenly distributed than they think it is.
In a 2010 survey, Americans guessed that the top 20 percent of Americans hold about 60 percent of the wealth (rather than the 85 percent that they actually hold). Survey respondents also guessed that the bottom 40 percent hold between 8 and 10 percent of the wealth in the U.S. (rather than the 0.3 percentCEO that they actually hold).
[Read full Yahoo article by Life's Little Mysteries]