As is increasingly
apparent, the rich continue to get richer, yet few people are aware of the
extent of the growing gap between the ultra-rich and the rest of us. I am
most thankful to the New York Times for running this highly revealing
article. I've included key excerpts below, and provided the link for those
who want to read the entire article. Below the New York Times article
are excerpts from another revealing article in the Los Angeles Times
on CEO pay increases, with link provided. "The average CEO made 42
times the average worker's pay in 1980. That increased to 85 times in 1990
and is now over 300 times."
these articles mention the rapidly growing gap between the developed and the
developing nations of the world. Do you think most CEOs care how much you
earn? Do you care how much those in developing countries earn? It is clear
to me that greed and lack of concern for the global human family are two main
forces behind the major cover-ups explored on WantToKnow.info. Let us
examine where greed causes us to place our own interests above those around
us. By choosing to live with full integrity in our personal lives, we can
more powerfully influence those around us to join in building
a brighter future.
Fred Burks for WantToKnow.info
Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind
By DAVID CAY
Published: June 5, 2005
When F. Scott
Fitzgerald pronounced that the very rich "are different from you and
me," Ernest Hemingway's famously dismissive response was: "Yes,
they have more money." Today he might well add: much, much, much more
at the top of America's money pyramid have so prospered in recent years that
they have pulled far ahead of the rest of the population, an analysis of tax
records and other government data by The New York Times shows. They
have even left behind people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
the hyper-rich. They are not just a few Croesus-like rarities. Draw a line
under the top 0.1 percent of income earners - the top one-thousandth. Above
that line are about 145,000 taxpayers, each with at least $1.6 million in
income and often much more.
income for the top 0.1 percent was $3 million in 2002, the latest year for
which averages are available. That number is two and a half times the $1.2
million, adjusted for inflation, that group reported in 1980. No other income
group rose nearly as fast. The share of the nation's income earned
by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4
percent in 2002. The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent
rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell.
Next, examine the net worth of American households. The group with homes,
investments and other assets worth more than $10 million comprised 338,400
households in 2001, the last year for which data are available. The number
has grown more than 400 percent since 1980, after adjusting for inflation,
while the total number of households has grown only 27 percent.
The Bush administration tax cuts stand to widen the gap between the hyper-rich
and the rest of America. The merely rich, making hundreds of thousands of
dollars a year, will shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden.
Bush said during the third election debate last October that most of the tax
cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans. In fact, most - 53 percent
- will go to people with incomes in the top 10 percent over the first 15 years
of the cuts, which began in 2001 and would have to be reauthorized in 2010.
And more than 15 percent will go just to the top 0.1 percent, those 145,000
set out to create a financial portrait of the very richest Americans, how
their incomes have changed over the decades and how the tax cuts will affect
them. It is no secret that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown,
but the extent to which the richest are leaving everyone else behind is not
The analysis also found the following:
the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum
of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release
such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to
virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to
¶Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of
their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000.
¶The alternative minimum tax, created 36 years ago to make sure the
very richest paid taxes, takes back a growing share of the tax cuts over time
from the majority of families earning $75,000 to $1 million - thousands and
even tens of thousands of dollars annually. Far fewer of the very wealthiest
will be affected by this tax.
examined only income reported on tax returns. The Treasury Department says
that the very wealthiest find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter a lot of
income from taxes. So the gap between the very richest and everyone else is
almost certainly much larger.
One way to understand the growing gap is to compare earnings increases over
time by the vast majority of taxpayers - say, everyone in the lower 90 percent
- with those at the top, say, in the uppermost 0.01 percent (now about 14,000
households, each with $5.5 million or more in income last year).
to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90
percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according
to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by
those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra
The Bush administration
says that the tax cuts have actually made the income tax system more progressive,
shifting the burden slightly more to those with higher incomes. Still, an
Internal Revenue Service study found that the only taxpayers whose share of
taxes declined in 2001 and 2002 were those in the top 0.1 percent.
"In this income data I see a snapshot of a very innovative society,"
said Tim Kane, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. "Lower taxes
and lower marginal tax rates are leading to more growth. There's an explosion
of wealth. We are so wealthy in a world that is profoundly poor."
of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren E. Buffett, George Soros and
Ted Turner, have warned that such a concentration of wealth can turn a meritocracy
into an aristocracy and ultimately stifle economic growth by putting too much
of the nation's capital in the hands of inheritors rather than strivers and
innovators. Speaking of the increasing concentration of incomes, Alan Greenspan,
the Federal Reserve chairman, warned in Congressional testimony a year ago:
"For the democratic society, that is not a very desirable thing to allow
it to happen."
Los Angeles Times -
Gulf Between Top, Bottom Gets Wider
A Times survey of the state's largest companies shows that CEOs' pay is growing
at a much faster pace than that of rank-and-file employees.
By Kathy M. Kristof, Times Staff Writer
that the top dog makes a lot more than the rest of the pack. But the big pay
hikes awarded to chief executives are leaving the pack even further behind
each year, The Times' annual executive compensation survey shows.
California's largest 100 public companies took home a collective $1.1 billion
in 2004, up almost 20% from 2003. That compares with the 2.9% raise that the
average California worker saw last year, according to the Economic Policy
Institute in Washington.
is even sharper at the top rungs of the ladder. The 10 highest-paid executives
on this year's list earned 36.7% more than last year's top 10 — garnering
a collective $467.5 million. That's enough to buy about 275 homes in Malibu
or 1.5 million sets of golf clubs or two 747 jumbo jets. Although limited
to California companies, the survey reflects a national trend: a widening
chasm between the pay of chief executives and rank-and-file employees.
average CEO made 42 times the average worker's pay in 1980. That increased
to 85 times in 1990 and is now over 300 times," said Brandon Rees,
a research analyst with the AFL-CIO's office of investment, a group that tracks,
and is critical of, executive pay policies. "That is clearly not a sustainable
rate of growth."
executive pay soars even in bad years. Sanmina-SCI Corp., a San Jose telecommunications
company with $12 billion in sales, lost money in 2003 and 2004. Yet Chief
Executive Jure Sola scored a 1,500% hike in total pay during 2004, according
to The Times survey. Sola was paid $19.8 million last year, while the company
lost $14.9 million.
Note: For another excellent, in-depth article from the New York Times on the increased gap between the super-rich and the rest of us, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/060807incomeinequality