Op-Ed by Paul Buchheit
January 11, 2016
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(COMMONDREAMS) They consist of 16,000 individuals, about the size of a crowd at a professional basketball game. The inequality horror they’ve fomented is reaching far beyond the half of America that is in or near poverty, for it now impacts those of us well above the median, those of us in the second highest of four wealth quartiles.
1. The .01% Have as Much Wealth as 80% of America
The combined net worth of the 16,000 richest Americans is approximately the same as the total wealth of 256,000,000 people. Details for this statistic and other facts to follow are at You Deserve Facts.
2. Americans with up to a Quarter-Million Dollars are Part of the Nearly 80% of Americans with Less Wealth Than the .01%
The 80% includes all Americans with a net worth up to about $277,000.
3. The .01% Own about as Much as 75% of the Entire World
The world’s poorest 75% own roughly 4 percent of total global wealth, approximately the same percentage of wealth owned by the .01% in the United States. Again, calculations are shown here.
4. The .01% – Who Are They?
It starts with the billionaires, the Forbes 400 and 136 more, for a total of 536 individuals with a total net worth of $2.6 trillion at the end of 2015.
It continues with more Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs). These loftily-named people, over 15,000 of them, are worth hundreds of millions of dollars apiece, bringing the total .01% wealth to about $6.2 trillion, based on 2013-14 data. But U.S. wealth has grown by about 30 percent in three years, and the Forbes 400 has grown by 38 percent, and thus the total wealth of the .01% has grown to over $9 trillion.
In contrast, a recent Institute for Policy Studies report calculated that the bottom half of America has about $732 billion in total wealth, and further calculations on the same data show that the bottom 75% of America owned about $6.2 trillion in 2013.
5. The Unique Brand of .01% Terror: Making a Game of Tax Avoidance While 2,500,000 Children Experience Homelessness
Wealth ownership is not contemptible if the owners of that wealth accept their responsibility to the society that makes their great fortunes possible. But instead of paying taxes, the wealthiest Americans have formed an “income defense industry” to shelter their riches, with, according to the New York Times, “a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.”
On the corporate end, over half of U.S. corporate foreign profits are now being held in tax havens, double the share of just twenty years ago. Yet for some of our largest corporations, according to the Wall Street Journal, over 75 percent of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries remains in U.S. banks, “held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities.” Thus they get the benefit of our national security while they eagerly avoid taxes.
The .01% go about their self-serving tax avoidance while 2.5 million children experience homelessness every year. The corporations of the .01% hoard hundreds of billions overseas while nearly two-thirds of American families don’t have enough money to replace a broken furnace.
This is real terror, facing life without shelter and warmth and sustenance, without a semblance of security for even one day in the future. It is terror caused in good part by the 16,000 people who don’t feel it’s necessary to pay for the benefits heaped upon them by a perversely unequal society.
This article (Here Are the Real Terrorists We Should Be Worrying About) originally appeared on CommonDreams.org and is licensed Creative Commons 3.0. The views expressed are those of the author. The Anti-Media radio show airs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Dave Nakayama. Help us fix our typos: email@example.com.