The Congressional Budget Office confirmed this week what has been well known for quite some time: America has seen a concentration of wealth in the past thirty years as never before in American history.
Income for the top one percent increased 275 percent, while the top 20 percent went up 65 percent. At the same time, the 20th percentile to the 80th percentile went up about 40 percent, and the lowest fifth 18 percent.
The top one percent of income earners control as much of the nation’s total income as they had on the eve of the Great Depression. They had 23.94 percent of the national income in 1929 and 23.5 percent in 2007.
When one looks at the top one tenth of one percent, the richest of the rich, they controlled 2.8 percent of national income in 1913, when the income tax amendment was put into the Constitution. In 2007, the top one tenth of one percent earned 6 percent of national income.
One major difference today is that the wealthiest usually have it from being financial and corporate executives, while in earlier times, they were mostly living off inherited wealth.
These figures cry out on why the “Occupy Wall Street” movement resonates among many Americans, and calls for some kind of action to tax the wealthy more to help resolve the budget crisis and deal with the many social and economic problems we face today in 2011.