Not the land of opportunity it once was, the United States of America ranks last of all developed nations for economic equality in the latest report from Credit Suisse.
According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, billed as “the most comprehensive study of world wealth, and … the only study that analyzes the wealth of all the world’s 4.7 billion adults,” just 10 percent of the U.S. population owns 75.4 percent of the resources.
So the bottom 90 percent of the population — which includes people who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, as well as those in poverty — owns just 24.6 percent of the wealth. In contrast, the bottom 90 percent of most other developed countries owns 40 percent of the wealth. These numbers put us on a par with Indonesia, South Africa and India, all of which fall within a one or two percentage points of us.
The Trend Toward Income Inequality
While conservatives may cry that Barack Obama a socialist, the truth is that the rich have only grown richer on his watch. While the wealthy have experienced a boom during America’s so-called economic recovery — stock values have soared and CEOs boast record salaries — the average citizen is still just plodding along.
Taking a double-hit, 2013 has also seen cuts in social programs like SNAP (often called food stamps, which feed needy adults and children), meals for seniors and housing assistance for the homeless. Extended unemployment benefits have hit the chopping block, and childcare assistance for low-income working parents has diminished. Meanwhile, yacht and vacation-home owners will see tax breaks totaling $10 billion over ten years, and the military is building battleships at the tune of $2.5 billion each. Priorities.
As Pew Research reports, the U.S. income gap is higher now that it has been since 1928. We can’t blame Obama for all of this: Economic inequality has been on the rise for decades, and GOP politicians have pushed hard to protect the rich. Not to mention the Republican backlash against any populist program that the president might suggest.
The last time the income gap rivaled today’s numbers was just two years before the Great Depression, after which things equalized to a large degree. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another catastrophe to fix our own inequitable system.