06, 2017 "Information
has always been great for the richest 1%, and
it's rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation
comes from recent
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel
Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global
Wealth Databooks (GWD).
The data relevant to this report is summarized here.
The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from
Every Other Segment of Society
These multi-millionaires effectively shifted
nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest
of the nation to themselves in 2016. While
there's no need to offer condolences to the rest
of the top 10%, who still have an average net
worth of $1.3 million, nearly half of the wealth
transfer ($1.94 trillion) came from the nation's
poorest 90% -- the middle and lower classes,
according to Piketty and Saez and Zucman. That's
over $17,000 in housing and savings per
lower-to-middle-class household lost
to the super-rich.
Put another way, the average 1% household took
an additional $3 million of our national wealth
in one year while education and infrastructure
went largely unfunded.
It Gets Worse: Each MIDDLE-CLASS
Household Lost $35,000 to the 1%
According to Piketty and Saez and Zucman, the
"the group of adults with income between the
median and the 90th percentile." This group of
50 million households lost $1.76 trillion of
their wealth in 2016, or over $35,000 each.
That's a $35,000 decline in housing and
financial assets, with possibly increased debt,
for every middle-class household.
Housing Wealth for the 90% Has Been
Converted into Investment Wealth for the
In the 1980s, the housing wealth of the bottom
90% made up about 15 percent of total household
wealth (Figure 8 here and
Page 41 here).
In the 1980s, the corporate equities owned by
the richest .01% made up about 1.2 percent of
total household wealth (Figure 8 here).
Housing was 12 times greater than super-rich
stock holdings back then. Now they're nearly
equal. The home values of 112,000,000 households
have been reduced to just over 5 percent of
total wealth, while the stocks and securities of
the richest 12,000 households are approaching 5
percent of total wealth. Our homes have turned
to dust, and the plutocrats have turned the dust
Even the Wages of the Poorest Americans
Have Been Transferred to the Plutocrats
It's bad enough that the poorest 50% of America
have no appreciable wealth, but their income has
not increased in 40 years (see Table 1 here).
More evidence comes from Pew
As Piketty, Saez, and Zucman note,
the richest 1% and the poorest 50% "have
basically switched their income shares." They explain,
"We observe a complete collapse of the bottom
50% income share in the US between 1978 and
2015, from 20% to 12% of total income, while the
top 1% income share rose from 11% to 20%."
Making America Great for 1% of Us
In his book, Glass
House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the
All-American Town, Brian Alexander describes
today's America through the lens of his hometown
of Lancaster, Ohio, which had been a leading
glasswares manufacturer. But the town started
falling apart in the 1980s. A major glasswares
company was bought up with borrowed money by
private equity firms, which then cut jobs and
wages, allowed manufacturing facilities to fall
into disrepair, stopped contributing to
pensions, moved company headquarters out of
state, and demanded tax breaks to keep the
glassware plant in Lancaster.
Capitalism as usual. Yet 59
Lancaster's county voted for Trump. Alexander
explains that the people of Lancaster "remained
captured by an ultra-conservative, anti-tax
philosophy that prevented them from raising
funds to repair the crumbling streets.."
Delusions persist about the power of the market
and the dangers of governing ourselves. The
business media has conditioned us to fear the
words 'social' and 'public,' as if they connote
evil or ineptitude or anti-Americanism. But the
public good depends on cooperation. Society
fosters individual accomplishment, not the other
The obscene transfer of wealth and income to the
plutocrats won't end until we demand a return to
where we work as a society rather than allow
predatory plutocratic individuals to control us.
There are 112 million households in America that
are giving thousands of their hard-earned
dollars to the 1%, and we have finally begun to
fight back, together, as a massive force of
Americans who refuse to let the theft continue.
Buchheit is a writer for progressive
publications, and the founder and developer of
social justice and educational websites,
including: UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, and
was first published at