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News ::
08 Jul 2003

By G. Dunkel

Under capitalism there is no limit to how much wealth the very richest
can accumulate at the expense of the workers and poor.
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the July 10, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By G. Dunkel

Under capitalism there is no limit to how much wealth the very richest
can accumulate at the expense of the workers and poor.

That was proven yet again with the release of the Spring 2003 Statistics of Income Bulletin by the Internal Revenue Service on June 26. It shows that in 2000 the 400 individuals reporting the highest incomes in the United States accounted for more than 1 percent of all income received. This was more than double their share of the national income back in 1992.

In the nine years covered by this report, the income of the top 400
increased 15 times faster than that of the bottom 90 percent. The median income for the population as a whole in 2000 was $27,000. This means that half of the families in the United States made more than $27,000 and half made less--some a lot less.

To be in that select group, the top 400, however, you had to rake in at least $86.8 million. Some had incomes of more than $1 billion.

Part of the reason why the wealthiest 400 got so much richer was due to the stock market bubble of the 1990s. But the figures in the report
indicate that the wealthiest 400 also took advantage of a big reduction in the capital gains tax in 1997, which was lowered from 28 percent to 20 percent. This tax applies to money made by selling stocks at a gain.

Since then, Bush has lowered the tax on capital gains even further, to
15 percent, so the income of these richest people will rise even more.

At the same time, the Census Bureau reports that median income went down from 2000 to 2001, which means that poor people were making less at the same time the richest of the rich were doing even better.

Some 63.2 million tax returns report incomes of less than $50,000, while 2.8 million report incomes of over $200,000. These wealthier people reported a total income of $1.7 trillion, of which $483 billion was from the sale of capital assets, mostly stocks and bonds. Very few households with an income less than $50,000 own stock. Bush's tax cuts are almost entirely for the richest of the rich.

The income gap between rich and poor in the United States is many times greater than in other developed capitalist countries.

There are other significant gaps in income distribution in the United
States. Men make more than women for the same work; African Americans
make less than whites, and even at the same income level have
significantly less wealth--savings, investments in a house, pensions--
which makes it harder for them to survive economically when they lose
income. But the struggles against racism and sexism and for affirmative action have somewhat narrowed these gaps.

The only thing that will reverse the growing polarization of rich and
poor, however, is a broad and militant working class struggle that
threatens the very system of capitalism itself.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
on (at) Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) Support the
voice of resistance
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