Many people realize the rich are getting richer, but the full extent of growing income inequality is hard to believe. Jim Hightower writes in his new column, “The Disuniting Of America”:
In recent years, the insidious love of mammon (in the form of greed and excess) has not merely been tolerated in our country, but celebrated and even exalted into official public policy, marring our economy with dangerous inequality and injustice. The reigning ethos of those at the apex of our nation’s wealth pyramid is that too much is not enough. They’re not merely out to make loads of the money they love, but to make a killing, everyone else be damned.
New numbers from the Congressional Budget Office confirm that as the moneyed elites have been making their killing, wealth disparity has become extreme in a country that once prided itself on trying to build a more egalitarian society.
Analyzing 30 years of income data, the nonpartisan CBO reports that the richest 1 percent of our population has enjoyed a stunning 275 percent increase in their income during that time. As a result, these privileged few have more than doubled the slice of America’s income pie that they consume, going from 8 percent to 17 percent of the whole in just three decades.
From whom did these richest 1-percenters get their extra-big slice? From us, the 99 percent. The share of national income going to middle class and poor families shrank in this period — which is why there is such broad support today for Occupy Wall Street’s “We are the 99 percent” movement.
At the extreme tip of America’s wealth pyramid are the multimillionaire CEOs and billionaire Wall Streeters. They are the richest .01-percenters (a mere 14,836 households). These few now take 6 percent of all U.S. income — the biggest piece ever consumed by America’s mega-rich.