Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Feelin' Rich?


About a year into Bush's second term, times started getting exceptionally rough, not just for the working poor-- after all Bush's economic and fiscal plans were designed to make them suffer-- but for the middle class as well. You can argue that things are slowly-- glacially-- turning around under Obama but most families will tell you nothing has improved. Most... but not all. For a few wealthy families everyone else's tough economic times has been a financial bonanza.
During the depths of the recession in 2009, as millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and life savings, the highest-paid earners in the United States saw their average incomes increase more than five-fold from 2008, according to new data from the federal government.

The 74 people who earned more than $50 million last year-- the highest income category measured by the Social Security Administration-- saw their average incomes skyrocket from $91.8 million in 2008 to a mind-boggling $518.8 million in 2009.

These 74 people earned an average of $10 million-- per week. Meanwhile, half of all American wage-earners, or about 75 million people, earned less than $505 per week.

Even though the absolute number of earners in the over-$50 million income category decreased from 131 to 74 in 2009, the combined wages of that group increased by an astonishing $26.5 billion, from $11.9 billion in 2008 to $38.4 billion in 2009.

These 74 people earned a combined $38.4 billion last year, or as much as the 19 million lowest-paid American workers, combined. In 2009, the average income earned by all Americans fell by $384 to $39,269 and the median income fell by $253 to $26,261.

Many of these people, if not all of them, are social parasites. They don't CREATE anything-- including employment (other than for servants and golf caddies); they suck the blood of working people. If most of them and their spawn were to die tomorrow, there would be no negative social impact on anything. In fact, the country and the world would be a far better place. David Cay Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winner NY Times journalist covered this story on his blog, and he pointed out that many of them are "most likely Wall Street traders who earned bonuses or corporate executives cashing in deferred compensation that accumulated over the years, or even highly paid athletes," though not hedge fund managers "because much of their 'investment' [gambling] income is not counted as wages.
"This systematic destruction of the working class and middle class has come during an era notable for celebrating the super-rich just for being super-rich," Johnston wrote. "From the Forbes 400 launch in 1982 and Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in 1984 to the faux reality of the multiplying Real Housewives shows, money voyeurism has grown in tandem with stagnant to falling incomes for the vast majority. There has also been huge income growth at the top and the economic children of income inequality: budget deficits and malign neglect of our commonwealth."

"This orgy of money exhibitionism has created a society in which commas-- it takes three to be a billionaire-- count more than character," Johnston continued. "We have gone so far down this path that we bailed out bankers, allowing them to keep the untaxed wealth in their deferral accounts and, with a few exceptions, retaining shareholder value, while wiping out investors in General Motors and Chrysler as a condition of their bailouts. And while autoworkers had to take severe pay cuts, bonus time on Wall Street is at new record levels."

And now they're buying themselves a Congress to cement their power in place. That's the conservative way.

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At 6:12 PM, Blogger davidcay said...

Thanks for the kind words about my column posted at, but it is not "mine."

For four decades nonprofit and virtually nonadvertising Tax Analysts has been reporting on, litigating with and doing all it can to make our tax system better understood. It runs one of the larger newsrooms in Washington, publishes about 250 pages of tax journalism and theory each week in Tax Notes (federal), Tax Notes International and State Tax notes. is a public service website to help Americans better understand the entire tax system.


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