The top 1% constitutes about 1.5 million households owns more than 15 times the bottom 50%. Their combined wealth is approximately $34.2 trillion dollars while the bottom 50% is roughly 2.1 trillion dollars. The upper 10% hold more than 88% of the total equity of all corporations and mutual fund shares.
Over the last 30 years, the wealth of the top 10% has increased by 69% while for the bottom 50% it has actually decreased by half, from 3.6% growth to only 1.9%. The average net worth of the top 1% is 11.1 million dollars. Wealth for the 1% has increased 160% from 1979 through 2019 while the bottom 90% saw an increase of just 26%.
The widening disparity between the elites and everybody else stems from several factors. The most notable being their dominance of public and private equity, and extraordinary generous tax breaks. The net worth between the richest top 10% and the bottom lowest 10% has more than doubled between 1982 and 2016. The largest jump coming after 2010 when the Supreme Court upheld Citizens United which gave Corporate America its personhood and defacto card blanche control of politics.
Citizens United allowed corporations to dominate elections by allowing them to donate virtually unlimited amounts of money while simultaneously capping the average voter. It also put the cost of mounting an election out of reach for the average citizen.
Thinking about running for Congress? The average cost is just over $2 million dollars...and that's for a two year term which means you'll constantly be in "fundraising mode" not just for you, but for the party and its chieftains as well. And the pay? Just $174,000.
The total cost of Congressional elections prior to the 2010 Citizen United mistake was $2.48 billion (2008). By 2012 it was $3.66 billion. As of 2020, that figure ballooned to $8.73 billion. Presidential elections went from a total of $2.79 billion in 2008 to $5.70 billion in 2020.
The average cost of running for governor is north of $15 million. In the 2018 race for Governor of Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum raised $55,062,506.00 while his opponent (and eventual winner), Republican Ron DeSantis ponied up $58,847,418.00. In Wisconsin, the cost to run for governor went from just over $35 million pre-Citizens United to around $93 million in 2018.
Where's all this money coming from? Well, a good chunk of it is coming from the candidates themselves. Practically everyone running for governor, and certainly Congress is at least a millionaire (Senate is a private reserve for multi-millionaires). In 2020, over half of all members of Congress are millionaires. Some are richer than that. Take Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) for instance. His net worth is over $344 million.
The rest of the money, however, comes from these corporate "Frankensteins" which the Supreme Court declared to be "people" and whose wealth is the equivalent to free speech.. They "contribute" (which sounds much better than saying "buy") the seats and those who fill them.
The largest donors usually come from Wall Street, following by high powered law and investment firms, Big tech, energy, healthcare, and defense industries. Much of it depends on the committees an individual sits on. Don't forget too that corporate lobbyists funneling money and perks to these individuals in the form of speaking engagements and dinners at $100,000 per seat, seminars at resorts, and donations to their "leadership" PACs.
Here's something to consider. Did you know that Congress has a retention rate of over 90%? Fewer than 10 seats at any given time are in jeopardy of a turnover. I find that utterly amazing given that Congress has a disapproval rating in the 70's (during the first week in January 2021 it was 80%). Its highest approval rating in the last decade has only been 36% (March 2021). That still means that more 60% of the public think they suck at their jobs! So, how do they manage to have a 90+% retention rate if something shady isn't going on?
Well, besides the obvious---money---there's also gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is where the two corporate owned parties get to redraw districts every ten years in order to pick their voters. No, seriously. It allows them to draw districts in all sorts of convoluted ways to ensure that they the appropriate number of partisan voters to keep the seat.
With Independents being the country's majority political bloc and growing while the numbers for the Republican and Democrat parties crash, it's going to be interesting to see how much longer this charade will be allowed to go on.
As an aside, it's worth nothing that in 2020 report by the Center for Public Accountability, corporations who publicly call for racial equity routinely donate to candidates, PAC, and groups which promote racial gerrymandering. So, despite their "feel good" advertising, many of those same corporations are buying politicians who will support redrawing districts to reduce the influence of minorities.
They'll tell you it's all about relationships and for once they're not lying. It's about knowing whose back to scratch and whose pocket to pick. It's about knowing how the game is played and who the players are. They don't want change (although you wouldn't know it by their campaign rhetoric!). They like it the way it is. No new ideas. No "reformer" troublemakers. They want to keep the status quo just as it is. They benefit from the laws they write and they know the levers to keep the unwashed masses (that's us) in line.
This applies to referendums, rank choice voting, and ballot initiatives too. They don't want to hear from you. They don't really want your opinions. They don't want to risk being booted out by being "ranked" lower than some newcomer. They don't want the voters submitting and voting on changes they can't control.
Another thing they oppose is those pesky Independents and third parties. Independents have been the nation's largest voting bloc for some time now. Currently, just over 40% of Americans are Independent, but you won't hear them admit it. They want you to think that Independents are closet partisan voters, which couldn't be further from the truth.
They don't want Independents or third party candidates running for office if possible, like requiring them to have 50 or 500 signatures to get on the ballot while a Democrat or Republican needs only three. They'll keep them out of debates whenever possible. The establishment media will typically ignore them, or treat them like a clown show. But to allow the voting public to take them serious is strictly verboten! Of course, they keep the money away.This includes 68% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans, and 83% of Independents. Personally, I think 78% is a low number. Americans have long been fed up with our broken system. We know no one is serious about fixing it. We've allowed ourselves to become apathetic.
America is no longer a democratic Republic, although we still pretend it is because we're too proud (and stubborn) to admit the truth. What is the truth? The truth is that we were the world's richest and most powerful nation. We enjoyed a degree of freedom and quality of life unmatched in human history. And while we were intentionally or perhaps willfully distracted, it was stolen away from us.
We've allowed the country to become a neo-fascist Corporatocracy wrapped up in an American flag just as we were warned about decades ago. We've allowed ourselves to become a surveillance state out of manufactured fear and the false promise of security. We've been made afraid of words and being called names, Perhaps worse of all, we've been made to forget what it meant to be an American.
We've replaced "citizen" with consumer. We've substituted "patriot" with globalist. We've confused equal opportunity with equal outcomes. We've been conditioned to see our differences instead of our commonalities. Conformity has replaced independence of thought. We've chosen the low road of mediocrity instead of the vistas of greatness.
America was founded on the premise of being a nation governed by and with the consent of its citizens. That was the "Great Ideal" America offered to the world; that government should serve its people. Not the other way around. Today, it's ruled by a political class which is little different from the one our Founding Fathers had sought to vanquish over two centuries ago. We can still turn this around, but only if we come together. We've been intentionally divided along artificial fault lines. Divided the ruling elites control us. United there is nothing that can stop us. What will it be America?