U s wealth inequity

HuffPost (02/11/2019)
400 Richest Americans Own More Than 150 Million of the Nation’s Poorest: Study
“U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring
Twenties,” economist Gabriel Zucman wrote.
A new study of the intensifying concentration of wealth in the United States reveals that the
400 richest people in the nation — just .00025 percent of the population — own more than the
150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
The information on the richest Americans, in a working paper by University of California at
Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman, comes as pressure appears to be mounting among
American taxpayers to increase taxes on the country’s ultra-wealthy.
Zucman’s study, “Global Wealth Inequality,” released last month, also found that the 400
richest Americans tripled their wealth since the early 1980s.
The share of the nation’s wealth held by the adults in the bottom 60 percent, meanwhile,
dropped from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014, the Post reported, citing the World
Inequality Database that’s maintained by Zucman and other economists.
“U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring
Twenties,” Zucman wrote. And as “wealth begets power” the political system is impacted, he
Zucman has advised Rep. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on her plan to impose an annual “wealth
tax” on people with $50 million and more in assets. Three online polls early this month showed
support for her plan running from 50 percent to as high as 61 percent.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has also talked of boosting the marginal income tax rate
to 70 percent for the portion of income exceeding $10 million a year. The majority of Americans
support raising taxes on the wealthy, according to polls. A survey early this month found that
76 percent of registered voters support raising taxes on the wealthiest.
Zucman’s study compared net worth — not income — which is the value of everything that a
family owns, minus debt. Homes, land, rental properties, stock, bank accounts and any business
holdings are all included. Personal possessions, like cars, were not included.
Mary Papenfuss

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