“The bulk of a generation of economic growth has been captured and concentrated in a few hands, and many people have barely seen any of it.”
New data released Monday explains the numbers behind Sen. Bernie Sanders’ often-cited statistic that the three richest Americans hold more wealth than the 160 million people who make up the bottom 50% of the population.
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent published what he called “stunning” findings from Stanford University economist Gabriel Zucman, showing how both an explosion in annual earnings by the rich and an increasingly regressive tax structure have combined to allow the top 1% of Americans’ wealth to triple over the past five decades.
Meanwhile, working people are taking home just $8,000 more per year than they did in 1970.
In what Sargent called “the triumph of the rich, which is one of the defining stories of our time,” the richer a household is, the more its take-home wealth has grown in the past 50 years.
For top 1%, average income has risen by $800,000 since 1970.
For top 0.1%, it has risen by $4 million.
For top .01%, it has risen $20 million.
Bottom 50%? $8,000.
All this is *after taxes and transfers.*
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) December 9, 2019
The top 1% of earners make an average of more than $1 million per year after accounting for taxes they pay, a 50-year increase of more than $800,000—100 times the growth rate of the bottom 50%.
The wealth of the top .1% is five times larger than it was in 1970, while that of the top .01% is seven times larger, at over $24 million in 2018.
Zucman and fellow economist Emmanuel Saez, his co-author of the new book “The Triumph of Injustice,” provided a chart showing how each group of earners’ take-home pay has changed since 1970. The wealthiest Americans’ assets skyrocketed by millions of dollars even in the first decade of the 21st century—when people in the bottom 50% saw their average take-home income decrease.
For middle-income earners since 1970, income-plus-effective tax rates have gone from $44,000 to about $75,000—a greater increase than those in the bottom 50% of earners, “but still their income growth rate has been very low,” Zucman told the Post.
Zucman, who with Saez advised Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on her Ultra-Millionaires Tax, emphasized that both the explosion of yearly income at the top and the effective tax rates of people in all income brackets must be taken into account to understand the massive wealth gap.
“You have two trends reinforcing each other,” Zucman told the Post. “There has been the rise in market income inequality—the rise in pretax income inequality. At the same time, the tax system has become much less progressive at the top of the income distribution.”
“People have this idea that government redistribution has upset some of the rise in inequality, but essentially that’s not the case,” the economist added.
Zucman’s findings were revealed two months after New York Times columnist David Leonhardt published a graphic showing how in 2018, for the first time in U.S. history, the 400 richest Americans paid less in taxes than any other income group.
The richest Americans have benefited from numerous changes to tax laws and enforcement in recent decades, Sargent wrote, “including domestic and international tax avoidance, the whittling away of the estate and corporate taxes, and the repeated downsizing of top marginal rates.”
Tony Annett of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University wrote that Zucman’s research shows how “it is no longer meaningful to rely on GDP” as a measure of economic well-being, since the benefits of growth are no longer being shared among all earners as they were in previous eras.
With this kind of distribution, it is no longer meaningful to rely on GDP, not even accounting for its other deficiencies. GDP became a widely used measure of economic well-being at a time when the benefits of growth were shared widely. https://t.co/IIL5EYMMGy
— Tony Annett (@tonyannett) December 9, 2019
Seth D. Michaels of the Union of Concerned Scientists described Zucman’s findings as showing how many people of his generation have seen the bulk of economic growth “captured and concentrated in a few hands.”
even if you know that inequality is increasing, the scale is staggering to consider. the bulk of a *generation* of economic growth has been captured and concentrated in a few hands, and many people have barely seen any of it. https://t.co/XldPkUoIM9
— Seth D. Michaels (@sethdmichaels) December 9, 2019
“The tiny number of people raking in the overwhelming majority of the last 40 years of economic growth are distorting the economy and the political system like a black hole, everything falling toward their interests at high speed,” Michaels wrote.
Food safety groups warn of looming zoonotic pandemic, blast USDA’s new slaughter plant regulation
"Self-regulation when it comes to animal movement, slaughter, and meat inspection is bad news."
Food safety advocates warned Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's USDA newly implemented rules for pig slaughter are setting the stage for a potential public health disaster—including the possibility of another infectious disease that could come from animals.
At issue is the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS), which the USDA finalized in October. Touted by the federal agency as a "modernization" effort, the regulation sparked immediate fears and lawsuits by watchdog groups over its elimination of kill speed limits and weakening of the inspection system.
Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor’s effort to postpone election — and protect voters from COVID-19
Hours after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing this week's election to June, the state Supreme Court ordered the election must proceed as scheduled.
BREAKING: The Wisconsin Supreme Court has blocked Gov. Tony Evers' executive order postponing the spring election in the state. Tomorrow's election IS BACK ON https://t.co/nZz9D4IsA3
— Zach Montellaro (@ZachMontellaro) April 6, 2020
US begins blood tests for coronavirus immunity: reports
The United States has begun taking blood samples from across the country to determine the true number of people infected with the coronavirus, using a test that works retrospectively, according to reports.
The new tests are based on serological surveys, which differ from the nasal swabs used to determine if someone currently has the virus.
Instead, they look for whether certain antibodies are present in the blood which shows that the person fought and then recovered from the illness -- even if they never showed symptoms.
These tests are seen as key to gradually easing lockdown, by allowing those who have proven immunity to re-enter society.