Labor, Wall Street and Wealth Distribution

by Michael Haberman on November 8, 2011 · 0 comments


As you read these facts and quotes about labor, Wall Street and wealth distribution try to determine what I am talking about.

  • According to a study done by the Brookings Institute the top 0.1% of Americans has a combined income equal to the bottom 42%.
  • That same top 0.1% of Americans control 34% of all savings, while 80% of Americans have no savings at all.
  • President of the company makes $500 million a year while his average worker makes $26,825 a year.
  • While the disposable income per capita rose 9%, those with income within the top 1% enjoyed a stupendous 75% increase in per capita disposable income.

Sound familiar? Is this in the news today? Think I read that on some protest sign?

What about this statement?

“…in society there is a productive class that ultimately creates the tangible products or services that people demand. Labor is thus the ultimate creator of wealth and is entitled to its returns. In society there is generally a monied aristocracy, and along with this, society’s wealth is excessively unequally distributed. Without major efforts to avoid it, education is unequally distributed and undemocratically provided. Class distinctions exist, and the goals of workers differ from those of employer….”

And what about this statement?

According to the Federal Reserve, …the richest 1 percent of America own 40 percent of its wealth — the greatest level of inequality among all rich nations, and the worst in U.S. history….. Furthermore, the richest 20 percent own 80 percent of America — meaning, of course, that the bottom four-fifths of all Americans own only one fifth of its wealth. …Another revealing way of expressing this statistic is that the top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined.

This stuff is right of the front pages of the country’s newspapers right?

Well I am afraid you are wrong. These statements are not the words of today’s Occupy Wall Street (Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago, etc.) rather the first set of figures come from the 1920’s, as does the quote about productive class, although I did alter the salary figures a bit. The actaul figures were Henry Ford’s salary of $14 million with an average employee wage of $734 per year. The last set of figures come from 1990.

So the protests are nothing new just newly discovered by a different generation dealing with a difficult time in the economic cycle. It seems that no one reads history anymore. We seem to be doomed to repeat the activities of men and women living their lives not much different than we live ours.

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