His post on July 31 [with my highlights]: Oligarchy or Democracy?
[W]e are now witnessing the most severe attack on our democratic foundations, both economically and politically, that has been seen in the modern history of our country. In terms of the distribution of wealth and income, in terms of concentration of economic ownership and in terms of political power, fewer and fewer Americans are determining the future of our country. …
Economically, the United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, …. Today,
- the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of America — 150 million people.
- Today, one family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame, with $89 billion, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America.
- Today, the top one percent owns 40 percent of all wealth, while the bottom 60 percent owns less than two percent.
- Incredibly, the bottom 40 percent of all Americans own just three-tenths of one percent of the wealth of the country.
- In terms of income distribution, the top one percent earns more income than the bottom 50 percent.
- Between 1980 and 2005, 80 percent of all new income created in this country went to the top one percent.
- In 2010 alone, 93 percent of all new income went to the top one percent.
- In terms of economic power and concentration of ownership, the six largest financial institutions in the country (JP MorganChase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Metlife) own assets equivalent to two-thirds of the GDP of this country — more than nine trillion dollars. …
Most of us have a hard time internalizing what has actually happened to our country. None of us has been even remotely considering the possibility that the country may actually be, already, in the hands of an oligarchy — a country controlled by a cadre of rich elite. Isn’t that what they have in Burkina Faso? Central African Republic? Niger? No wonder our congress, even when they seem to be doing something in the public interest, end up doing something that enables the rich to get richer.
The Question: what to do about it?