In 2008, the IRS revealed last week, 400 Americans reported at least $110 million in income on their federal tax returns. These 400, in a year that ended with millions of Americans out of work and home, averaged $270.5 million each, the second-highest U.S. top 400 average income on record.
The IRS only started reporting top 400 income calculations in 2003, and the agency’s official “top 400” totals just go back to 1992. But older IRS data reports do make top 400 estimates from some earlier years possible. And these earlier figures leave the latest IRS numbers in even starker relief.
In 1955, for instance, America’s top 400 averaged — in 2008 dollars — $13.3 million. In other words, the top 400 in 2008 reported incomes that, after taking inflation into account, amounted to more than 20 times the incomes of America’s top 400 a half-century ago.
Deloitte LLP has just become the latest global financial industry giant to take a stab at tallying the wealth of the world’s wealthy, joining, among others, Merrill Lynch, the Boston Consulting Group, and Credit Suisse. But Deloitte seems to be carving out a niche all its own in the wealth census sweepstakes: the future.
The global wealth study Deloitte’s Center for Financial Services released last week projects, a decade ahead, the wealthy’s wealth in 25 major countries “selected for their size, growth potential, and strategic importance.”
By 2020, Deloitte calculates, the holdings of all these wealthy will have more than doubled, from $92 trillion in 2011 to $202 trillion in 2020.
If the Republican budget cuts succeed, they will go down in history as the worst and most divisive in modern American history.
Is that what the Tea Partiers are all about?
Apologists for inequality have an all-purpose defense for our desperately unequal status quo. We live in an unequal society, they pronounce, because Americans don’t really care about inequality. They only care about opportunity, and we have in the United States today, inequality’s cheerleaders assert, opportunity aplenty.
So case closed. Don’t even think about taxing the rich.
This aggressive defense shows up, predictably enough, in a new online debate — “Rising Wealth Inequality: Should We Care?” — that the New York Times has been hosting for the past week.
Executive pay in the United States really didn’t start skyrocketing until the early 1980s. In 2009, the latest year with full stats available, top CEOs took home 263 times more than their workers.
The gap between corporate executive and worker pay has, in short, essentially multiplied tenfold over the span of a single executive generation.
Has the value of CEO labor, over that time span, increased ten times faster than the value of the labor average workers perform?