Ten numbers the rich would like fudged

The numbers below reveal the deadening effects of inequality in the United States, and confirm that tax avoidance, rather than a lack of middle-class initiative, is the cause.

1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.

According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.

2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.

In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.

3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.

The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.

Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.

4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.

After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.

U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the
1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.

That’s enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders.

That’s enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN’s World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.

For the free-market advocates who say “they’ve earned it”: Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money.

6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.

Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.

Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers.

7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That’s much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500).

Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.

8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households.

Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day.

9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.

21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.

That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you’re still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt.

With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour.

10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.

That’s about the same amount of money made by America’s richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding.

Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.

The world derivatives market is estimated to be worth over a quadrillion dollars (a thousand trillion). At least $200 trillion of that is in the United States. In 2011 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported a trading volume of over $1 quadrillion on 3.4 billion annual contracts.

A quadrillion dollars. A sales tax of ONE-TENTH OF A PENNY on a quadrillion dollars could pay off the deficit. But the total sales tax was ZERO.

It’s not surprising that the very rich would like to fudge the numbers, as they have the nation.

(Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.)


Please Note: The mission of The Global Conversation website is to generate an ongoing sharing of thoughts, ideas, and opinions at this internet location in an interchange that we hope will produce an ongoing and expanding conversation ultimately generating wider benefit for our world. For this reason, links that draw people away from this site will be removed from our Comments Section, a process which may delay publication of your post. If you wish to include in your Comment the point of view of someone other than yourself, please feel free to report those views in full (and even reprint them) here.
Click here to acknowledge and remove this note:
  • Marko

    Thanks for the uPlifting information. (sarcasm implied)

    My guess is, that there is a lot of debate on these facts & where to come into agreement on them based on bias filters people hold to.

    The real problem is, how to come to agreement & consensus on these & other so called facts.

    We can have facts up the wazoo, but don’t they mean very little unless we have some honest consensus & agreement on their accuracy? If we did, we might see more action around such numerical figures. Just wondering.

    M aking
    r ambunctious
    k ind (of)
    o pinion.

  • mewabe

    Greed exists at all levels of society and humanity, unfortunately, as does a neurotic drive for dominant power.

    Take an average person and put him or her in a position of authority and control over others, with or without a uniform, a badge, a baton and mace, and s/he has the potential to fly with it and not know when to stop…committing acts of abuse. There is potentially a little dictator in everyone, even in children who also play power games among themselves.

    Take another average person and give him or her access to wealth and the power that comes with it, as well as the means to have more, and see when and where that person stops, and whether consequences, to others and to the natural environment and the future generations, motivates him or her to act consciously and ethically, particularly if these actions can remain hidden and there is no accountability.

    The top of society reflects the beliefs and aspirations of the bottom, and vice versa. The bottom follows the top because they are part of the same social consciousness and organism and of one mind, although the top plays the game of despising the bottom and the bottom of resenting the top, pretending they are different.

    Let them trade places, and they will, in turn act exactly the same.

  • Lloyd

    If greed exist at all levels so does compassion. We see what we focus our attention upon, and yes there is greed and generousity within each of us. So how do we begin to make the changes most of us realize is needed for our society to survive? Screaming about the injustices seems to be rising in volume, as more of the wealth is being funneled into fewer pockets. I suggest showing this information to everyone especially our elected officials, and demand answers from them as to what they will do to correct this imbalance. Sitting in front of our computers crying about it does little to change it, but taking to the streets, writing petitions, and speaking out in public just may begin to wake up our human consciousness to the plight of our fellow human beings.

    There is no reason the majority of humanity needs to do without the basic needs of existence, ie, food, shelter, health care, employment, etc., while the minority continue to have more than they require to exist. No one in this world needs to go hungry, nor be homeless, and war between countries exist only because we allow it to happen rather than embrace our Oneness. Life isn’t about money, or power or gathering material possessions which we can not take with us. Life is about what we can do “for” others, nature, and learning to love one another. When we lift up another we lift up Ourselves, ALL of us, and this is the message we must live in our own lives, and teach by example to our children.

    There is hope for our world, and it begins with each of us, so focus upon being the example that we wish the world to follow. Namaste’

  • stephen mills

    The numbers above are telling our story,they are saying this is how it is in our society,s and the frightening thing is the numbers are only going one way ….

    I have been reading about numbers like these for years and in the book by Thom Hartmann, Srewed The undeclared War Against The Middle Class, there are solutions to reverse this dysfunctional trend.

    The rich created the system and refuse to change anything that would level the playing field they have even forgot we are all on the same team and this is the only solution that can work ?

    But critical mass is rising ,there are so many of us aware of the truth and seeking to change this existing reality and as Butch say,s above it starts with being so tag your it !

  • Erin/IAm

    The ‘tag’ duly noted! And I have no prob being ‘It’.:)

    Taxing…as much as we are sooo accustomed to this sufferable device…It simply Does Not Work!!!

    Herein lies much of the motivation of secrecies, lies, & manipulations. Heck, we even hire people…There are Huuuge businesses; Tons of monies paid out…just to ‘fudge our numbers’! And the un-official, never-ratified, IRS, proves every year that we have not come far from the strong-armed Crusades of yester-year. They are an epitome of Fear-monger…and not just in the U.S. This biz now operates under many names, in many countries. Personally, I find them to be no grander than international money launderers.

    However…Genius! Absolute genius! Weasles, yes…but genius weasles, indeed. How amazing to have set an agenda with a date of fear that puts nearly every soul in anxiety-attack mode…scrambling to get forms done, hopes of refunds, hopes of not losing everything in this process…every year. Truly a motivator of masses!!!

    Solution to such? Of course! Change the game. If you change your employment accounting forms (W-4?) to a number 2+ over your ‘norm’ (perfectly ‘legal’, btw), so that your income is taxed at near zero (but you put that ‘extra’ in your savings mattress)…then on April 15th, no matter who you are, file a 1040-EZ with a big red zero with a slash thru it…sign it & send it. (your ‘refund’ is already in your mattress…enjoy!) Now That’s a Clear message! (Businesses who normally have to file quarterly will need to get extensions thru-out the year to participate…no biggie.)

    The lack of this cash expectancy will surely rock some boats, but the cash in hand of every individual & family will just as surely smooth some waters.

    Repercussions? Oh, I’m pretty sure there will arise some ‘strategy’ to such…but I bet We are enormous in World News…I bet our little tsunami hits many shores…and off-shores…indeed! Talk about ‘a Global Conversation’!:)

    This type of ‘write-in vote’ would not cost much to any one, but has the ability to unite One-ness…at least in one aspect. In fact, we could probably even agree as a majority, to send half of each mattress savings to relief efforts in progress…here & around the world…showing that We, the People, Do have integrity, in spite of a governance gone awry. (The Native Nations, the East Coast, Louisiana, local Farmers…just to name a few home-front directions.)

    Just a thought…Anyone up for a game change?:)

  • Lloyd

    How about a flat rate tax, personal as well as businesses and zero deductions. Set a lower limit of 50K, anyone making less than this amount pays zero income tax, but any amount above this limit pays 15% of their income. The tax forms could be the size of a post card, imagine eliminating a majority of IRS jobs. Businesses and individuals pay the same tax rate, even on overseas income or offshore accounts, if a US citizen any income regardless of how it is made pays the 15%. This is fairness, and our budget would not only be balanced but so would social security, funds to educate and house and feed those in need.

  • mewabe

    Lloyd, you are making way too much sense, be careful I think there is a law against possessing this much common sense in the US and the penalty is severe, you are only allowed to carry enough to obey traffic laws and fulfill other basic daily obligations.

    Seriously, if we were to actually solve the world problems with such a thing as common sense, what would become of governments and immense and powerful bureaucracies, and of all who profit immensely from keeping these problems in place, from increasing them or from creating new ones?

    We ought to have compassion for them, and no longer display that kind of common sense recklessly.

  • Lloyd

    Mewabe, that is exactly why I live in my 5th wheel, a moving target is harder to hit. I retired from a national lab, and gave up all my security clearances, sold my house and hit the road. When Bush won and turned the national lab into a working group for the new security industry, it was obivous that common sense wasn’t valued but deception, lies and greed would be the new game in town. I choose not to play and for my health I retired at 56.

    So now I travel and work here and there at campgrounds, national parks, etc. and talk with people of all mind sets, and it has fun and very rewarding. Online and in person, learning to speak my vision of truth for the possibilities for human existence for the most part has been received warmly. I am none threatening to anyone, and I do not need to change anyone, and I accept everyone as my relations, a reality. So I am spreading the good vibrations as far and wide as I can, and each day has and is my blessing. Namaste’

  • mewabe

    Butch, it sounds like a very good life, with a very good mindset. You should keep a journal, you might write a book about your travels and the people you meet.