The 1 Percent Has Nearly Tripled Its Share of America's Income
For more than a month now, Occupy Wall Street supporters have been camping in lower Manhattan to voice their dissatisfaction with, among other things, America's mind-boggling income inequality. Though they've faced criticism from naysayers all along the way, it turns out that the protesters' grievances aren't just figments of their collective imagination after all: In the past three decades, the richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their share of the U.S. income grow by 275 percent since 1979, according to a new study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In comparison, the poorest 20 percent had only an 18 percent increase. Never again should anyone ever ask, "What is Occupy Wall Street so angry about?"
Released yesterday, the study [PDF] is a product of years of researchers delving into IRS and Census Bureau records. It says that not only have income disparities vastly increased, but that the reason they've increased is due in large part to a combination of uneven income stream distribution and changes in the tax laws to benefit the ultra-wealthy. In other words, poor people are finding less access to revenue sources like capital gains than they used to, and rich people are being taxed less. The result is skyrocketing wealth for the upper crust while regular people lose their homes en masse.
With information like this, whether you agree with Occupy Wall Street isn't at issue anymore. The real question is how long a nation this top-heavy can last before it topples.