Economy top five percent

Published on April 2nd, 2011 | by Rhonda Winter

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Top 5% in U.S. Own Nearly 2/3 of Everything

It is difficult to comprehend just how rich the plutocracy in the United States has now become. The distribution of wealth and resources in this nation is even more extreme and inequitable than what we are all earning for our wages (if you are fortunate enough to actually even have a job). According to new research released by the Economic Policy Institute,”The State of Working America’s Wealth“, the volatility and turmoil in our economy continues to increase, as the massive chasm between the grotesquely rich and everyone else grows even more immense.

top five percent

The institute’s research shows that the wealthiest 5% in this country control a whopping 63.5% of everything, while the rest of us, the bottom 80%, own just 12.8% of the country’s wealth. Wealth was defined as a family’s total assets:

…such as bank account balances, savings, and real estate, minus total liabilities, such as mortgages, credit card and other debt, and outstanding medical bills. Wages and income are important measures of economic well-being, but wealth offers another valuable perspective on families’ financial security and ability to withstand job losses or other economic setbacks. ‘The State of Working America’s Wealth’ notes that these large disparities in wealth explain, in part, why the economic recovery feels different to different people: Typical families and workers continue to struggle against high rates of unemployment, stagnating wages, and foreclosure, while the wealthy have enjoyed significant gains in the stock market, and benefited from corporate profits.”

Keep in mind that this enormous redistribution of wealth is all happening, in large part, thanks to Bush’s radical changes to our country’s tax policies. His huge tax cuts for the wealthy have fueled these unsustainable income shifts, and they have also added more to our nation’s deficit than all of our illegal wars combined.

Plutocracy Reborn

The greater the disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else, the more unstable an economy becomes. Our nation has now created a larger gap in the distribution of wealth than the massive chasm that helped fuel the Great Depression. In 1928, one year before that global economic collapse, the wealthiest .001% of the U.S. population owned 892 times more than 90% of the nation’s citizens. Today, the top .001% of the U.S. population owns over a thousand times more than the entire bottom 90% of us. This is not sustainable, and makes for a very volatile economy. It would appear that the American empire is about to crash.

Image is via the Economic Policy Institute
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About the Author

was raised by wolves, and subsequently has difficulty interacting with other humans; she can also be found on and Twitter.



19 Responses to Top 5% in U.S. Own Nearly 2/3 of Everything

  1. Great article. I like the way you handle this very impending issue. I’ll help by sharing the post at social bookmark sites. Thanks.
    kerry daley -songbirdgold on Twitter

  2. What can the smaller guy do about this. It’s quite a well documented state of affairs with Reich talking about supercapitalism in the US.

    The state of affairs in the UK is not realy that different with the rise and rise of the hedge fund and private equity funds. The current government seems incapable of shifting the balance.

    There could be moves towards localising purchase behaviour patterns and shunning outside capital investment but that makes things difficult for small rural business when they have to deal with international competition in the plastic recycling business in the UK we are now competing with buyers from Russia, India and Japan for material that could be processed 60 miles form where it’s sitting just now.

  3. Corporations were originally entities formed for certain projects like a highway or dam or such. After the project was completed, the corporation was disbanded by law. The rules for Corporations have been changing, getting better and better for them and worse and worse for us.

    Buy local. Buy from independent stores with no corporate ties. Buy everything you can from people in your area and buy alternatives to corporate products. A 50/50 mix of vinegar and water is the best glass cleaner you can buy. Find substitutes for every corporate product or service that you can such as heating your home for free anytime the sun shines with something as simple as a soda can solar heater. Just google it and see.

    Use the web to find alternatives. Divorce the corporations and grow as much of your own food as you can. You can grow a huge amount of food in your home including lots of veggies that you feed only with the water from your indoor aquarium. Google aquaponics. We need to stop supporting them. Grow or make what you can and do anything to cut the strings of the corporations.

  4. Joe Connors says:

    This is a horrifyingly accurat account of what is happening to the people of our country. We have been sold out to China! We give them all our natural resources, oil, water, and the thing that made this country strong, our entire manufacturing base. This means no jobs! The oil companies now hold a gun to our heads, pretending the the Middle East is the problem. No help comes to us from our over paid and dishonest representatives. The President is now planning a run for reelection, with the projected cost being some 1 billion dollars. That is scandalous number when the country is in such debt,and people are loosing their homes! We need to get these lobbyists out of Washington once and for all. How can we spread when the wealthy put the politicians into office?

    • Mike Carlson says:

      If you will go and check the data you will find President Obama get most of his contributuions from small donors. The data is available for anyone to check.

  5. lewax00 says:

    If you don’t like it, go out and get a decent college degree. I’m not talking some useless degree like English, I mean something that takes actual skill like an engineering degree. The “upper 5%” starts at around $150,000 a year for a household. That’s all. With an engineering degree you can get there pretty easy. Average starting salary at the college I’m attending is $70,000. So if you married another graduate from there that’s $140,000. Right out of college. And it’s not some Ivy League school either. And as for the whole “buy local” spiel, the only reason these corporations get so big is because they can do it better and cheaper than anyone else. They don’t get to the top by having crappy products, the do it by out performing their competition. Take those corporations out of the picture and suddenly the dollars you’re already complaining about not having enough of will buy even less.

    Seriously you people need to learn some economics.

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  7. overit says:

    We are more than just an economy, I would hope. We are a civilization, a culture. What you’ve prescribed is a great personal solution. The greater problem is allocation of resources (i.e. health, education, infrastructure and on and on). Your suggestion does nothing to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

    “Useless…like English”? Are you kidding? More than one person helped you learn how to write your comment. Give credit where credit is due.

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  16. Nick says:

    Scary numbers how the middle class is being wiped out. I have nothing against wealth but everything right now is setup for the average person to fail. Rich have all the opportunities to get richer.

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