North America

Divide widening between US rich, poor

A new report shows that the US wealth gap between the rich and poorer classes is growing at rates not seen in nearly 100 years, Press TV reports.

“What are you going to do with all that money? It just doesn’t make sense. You know that there are tons of people out there that really need food that can’t afford the house they live in – they’re homeless,” a protesters said.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the income of the wealthiest one percent grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007 compared to just 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent of the income scale.

“The way that wealth is being distributed to companies that can own and operate things on such a large level don’t feel able or willing to give to people that they’re employing,” a protester concluded.

Income inequality in the United States is the highest it’s been since the 1920s, with the 400 richest Americans – who are all billionaires – having as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of American families.

The cumulative wealth of the Forbes 400 was over one and a half trillion dollars; the wealth of the top 1 percent is about 225 times greater than that of the typical family.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation, reported profits of over USD 14 billion last year, while reducing company contributions to employee health savings accounts by 50 percent, and increasing healthcare premiums from 17 percent to more than 60 percent.

The Walton family (the largest shareholders of Wal-Mart stock and descendants of its founder) is the wealthiest family in the US with an estimated net worth of USD 92 billion – greater than the least wealthy 40 percent of Americans combined.

Growing income disparity has been central to the voice of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in which protesters have called for a closing of the gap between the nation’s wealthy and the poor.

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