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Offlinesomebodyelse
In_Is_Out

Registered: 06/12/03
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The Superrich
    #1691354 - 07/06/03 11:37 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

The Super Rich Are Out of Sight
Michael Parenti

The super rich, the less than 1 percent of the population who own the
lion's share of the nation's wealth, go uncounted in most income
distribution reports. Even those who purport to study the question
regularly overlook the very wealthiest among us. For instance, the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, relying on the latest U.S.
Census Bureau data, released a report in December 1997 showing that
in the last two decades "incomes of the richest fifth increased by 30
percent or nearly $27,000 after adjusting for inflation." The average
income of the top 20 percent was $117,500, or almost 13 times larger
than the $9,250 average income of the poorest 20 percent.

But where are the super rich? An average of $117,500 is an upper-
middle income, not at all representative of a rich cohort, let alone
a super rich one. All such reports about income distribution are
based on U.S. Census Bureau surveys that regularly leave Big Money
out of the picture. A few phone calls to the Census Bureau in
Washington D.C. revealed that for years the bureau never interviewed
anyone who had an income higher than $300,000. Or if interviewed,
they were never recorded as above the "reportable upper limit" of
$300,000, the top figure allowed by the bureau's computer program. In
1994, the bureau lifted the upper limit to $1 million. This still
excludes the very richest who own the lion's share of the wealth, the
hundreds of billionaires and thousands of multimillionaires who make
many times more than $1 million a year. The super rich simply have
been computerized out of the picture.

When asked why this procedure was used, an official said that the
Census Bureau's computers could not handle higher amounts. A most
improbable excuse, since once the bureau decided to raise the upper
limit from $300,000 to $1 million it did so without any difficulty,
and it could do so again. Another reason the official gave
was "confidentiality." Given place coordinates, someone with a very
high income might be identified. Furthermore, he said, high-income
respondents usually understate their investment returns by about 40
to 50 percent. Finally, the official argued that since the super rich
are so few, they are not likely to show up in a national sample.

But by designating the (decapitated) top 20 percent of the entire
nation as the "richest" quintile, the Census Bureau is including
millions of people who make as little as $70,000. If you make over
$100,000, you are in the top 4 percent. Now $100,000 is a tidy sum
indeed, but it's not super rich -- as in Mellon, Morgan, or Murdock.
The difference between Michael Eisner, Disney CEO who pocketed $565
million in 1996, and the individuals who average $9,250 is not 13 to
1 -- the reported spread between highest and lowest quintiles -- but
over 61,000 to 1.

Speaking of CEOs, much attention has been given to the top corporate
managers who rake in tens of millions of dollars annually in salaries
and perks. But little is said about the tens of billions that these
same corporations distribute to the top investor class each year,
again that invisible fraction of 1 percent of the population. Media
publicity that focuses exclusively on a handful of greedy top
executives conveniently avoids any exposure of the super rich as a
class. In fact, reining in the CEOs who cut into the corporate take
would well serve the big shareholder's interests.

* * *
Two studies that do their best to muddy our understanding of wealth,
conducted respectively by the Rand Corporation and the Brookings
Institution and widely reported in the major media, found that
individuals typically become rich not from inheritance but by
maintaining their health and working hard. Most of their savings
comes from their earnings and has nothing to do with inherited family
wealth, the researchers would have us believe. In typical social-
science fashion, they prefigured their findings by limiting the scope
of their data. Both studies failed to note that achieving a high
income is itself in large part due to inherited advantages. Those
coming from upper-strata households have a far better opportunity to
maintain their health and develop their performance, attend superior
schools, and achieve the advanced professional training, contacts,
and influence needed to land the higher paying positions.

More importantly, both the Rand and Brookings studies fail to include
the super rich, those who sit on immense and largely inherited
fortunes. Instead, the investigators concentrate on upper-middle-
class professionals and managers, most of whom earn in the $100,000
to $300,000 range -- which indicates that the researchers have no
idea how rich the very rich really are.

When pressed on this point, they explain that there is a shortage of
data on the very rich. Being such a tiny percentage, "they're an
extremely difficult part of the population to survey," pleads Rand
economist James P. Smith, offering the same excuse given by the
Census Bureau officials. That Smith finds the super rich difficult to
survey should not cause us to overlook the fact that their existence
refutes his findings about self-earned wealth. He seems to admit as
much when he says, "This [study] shouldn't be taken as a statement
that the Rockefellers didn't give to their kids and the Kennedys
didn't give to their kids." (New York Times, July 7, 1995) Indeed,
most of the really big money is inherited -- and by a portion of the
population that is so minuscule as to be judged statistically
inaccessible.

* * *
The higher one goes up the income scale, the greater the rate of
capital accumulation. Economist Paul Krugman notes that not only have
the top 20 percent grown more affluent compared with everyone below,
the top 5 percent have grown richer compared with the next 15
percent. The top one percent have become richer compared with the
next 4 percent. And the top 0.25 percent have grown richer than the
next 0.75 percent. That top 0.25 owns more wealth than the other 99
percent combined. It has been estimated that if children's play
blocks represented $1,000 each, over 98 percent of us would have
incomes represented by piles of blocks that went not more than a few
yards off the ground, while the top one percent would stack many
times higher than the Eiffel Tower.

Marx's prediction about the growing gap between rich and poor still
haunts the land -- and the entire planet. The growing concentration
of wealth creates still more poverty. As some few get ever richer,
more people fall deeper into destitution, finding it increasingly
difficult to emerge from it. The same pattern holds throughout much
of the world. For years now, as the wealth of the few has been
growing, the number of poor has been increasing at a faster rate than
the earth's population. A rising tide sinks many boats.

To grasp the true extent of wealth and income inequality in the
United States, we should stop treating the "top quintile" -- the
upper-middle class -- as the "richest" cohort in the country. But to
do that, we need to look beyond the Census Bureau's cooked
statistics. We need to catch sight of that tiny, stratospheric apex
that owns most of the world.

http://www.michaelparenti.org/Superrich.html


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: The Superrich [Re: somebodyelse]
    #1691673 - 07/07/03 01:44 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Excellent article and gives lie to the right-wing bullshit theory that by making the rich superrich it somehow benefits the people at the bottom. The rich get superrich and the poor get superpoor.


--------------------
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OfflinePhred
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Re: The Superrich [Re: somebodyelse]
    #1691760 - 07/07/03 02:11 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

The growing concentration of wealth creates still more poverty.




This is fallacious reasoning. The simultaneous appearance of two different things does not prove a causal relationship.

Quote:

As some few get ever richer, more people fall deeper into destitution, finding it increasingly difficult to emerge from it. The same pattern holds throughout much of the world. For years now, as the wealth of the few has been growing, the number of poor has been increasing at a faster rate than the earth's population.




And where are the highest concentrations of the poorest people? The relative success of the few superrich has no bearing one way or the other on the fate of a child born to an Ethiopian goatherd. The rich didn't become rich by swiping goats.

Even if every one of the superrich were to be assassinated tomorrow, the child of the goatherd would be no better off.

pinky


--------------------


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Phred]
    #1692087 - 07/07/03 04:40 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

And where are the highest concentrations of the poorest people? The relative success of the few superrich has no bearing one way or the other on the fate of a child born to an Ethiopian goatherd. The rich didn't become rich by swiping goats.





Check out the effect of subsidised imports and trading restrictions and see how the super rich do indeed effect the fate of Goatherd's child.


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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OfflinePhred
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Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1692259 - 07/07/03 07:02 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

GazzBut writes:

Check out the effect of subsidised imports and trading restrictions and see how the super rich do indeed effect the fate of Goatherd's child.

I would be happy to read a link from a credible source showing:

a) That the superrich are responsible for the imposition of trade restrictions

b) That the goatherd has anything to trade to an international customer

pinky


--------------------


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Phred]
    #1692323 - 07/07/03 08:09 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

a) That the superrich are responsible for the imposition of trade restrictions





I'll see what I can find but I think its fairly obvious that the people who decide upon trade laws and also the people who influence the decision makers arent people who are short of a penny or two!

Quote:

b) That the goatherd has anything to trade to an international customer




The goatherd may not have anything to trade internationally but there will be others in his society who have. If they are affecred by Trade laws and subsidised imports then the economy as a whole will suffer and so will the goatherd.


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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OfflineRhizoid
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Xlea321]
    #1692351 - 07/07/03 08:32 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

The rich get superrich and the poor get superpoor.




I just had a scary thought: what if there is an alien somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy that just got hold of a billion times more wealth than Bill Gates?

Help! Help! I'm being oppressed! See the violence inherent in the system!


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OfflineGazzBut
Refraction

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Re: The Superrich [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1692480 - 07/07/03 09:51 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

duplicate post!


--------------------
Always Smi2le


Edited by GazzBut (07/07/03 10:06 AM)


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1692481 - 07/07/03 09:51 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Well as long as he doesnt start subsidising the importation of low quality surplus space cakes we should be able to sleep easily!  :grin: 


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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OfflinePhred
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Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1695638 - 07/08/03 07:06 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

GazzBut writes:

I think its fairly obvious that the people who decide upon trade laws and also the people who influence the decision makers arent people who are short of a penny or two!

The people who pass the trade laws are elected by popular vote. The article claims the superrich are a tiny fraction of a percent of voters. Their vote counts no more than the vote of a penniless university student. Legislators are therefore not elected by superrich voters.

As for those who "influence" legislators, I presume you speak of lobbyists? You are of course aware that lobbyists come in all flavors. I can't think offhand of any special interest group who doesn't have lobbyists.

As an aside, why would the superrich care one way or the other about trade laws? According to that article, they inherited their money anyway.

The goatherd may not have anything to trade internationally but there will be others in his society who have. If they are affecred by Trade laws and subsidised imports then the economy as a whole will suffer and so will the goatherd.

The reason the Ethiopian goatherd and others like him are in such bad shape is that either their nation HAS no economy to speak of, or its economy is smothered by totalitarian rulers, and in either case the goatherd is effectively outside what economy there is.

Bill Gates's success had nothing to do one way or the other with the fact that the child of an Ethiopian goatherd is born into poverty.

pinky


--------------------


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Phred]
    #1695675 - 07/08/03 08:02 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I think it is charmingly naive of you to think that people who are super rich / powerful but outside the political sphere only have the same influence as your standard voter.

Quote:

The reason the Ethiopian goatherd and others like him are in such bad shape is that either their nation HAS no economy to speak of, or its economy is smothered by totalitarian rulers, and in either case the goatherd is effectively outside what economy there is.





So it is in no way shape or form affected by way the west controls trade with these countres? Goverment subsidised imports have no affect on these countries? Currency speculation also not a problem for these countries? Of course Pinky!

Im not saying that the plight of these countries is entirely caused by these factors obviously the countries themselves could be better run but that is for them to sort out. I just dont see why it is neccessary for us to add to the problems they face.


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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OfflineRhizoid
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Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1695774 - 07/08/03 09:16 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Goverment subsidised imports have no affect on these countries? Currency speculation also not a problem for these countries?




You're right, these things have negative impact.

Remove government subsidies and replace them with free markets. Remove government-fixed exchange rates and replace them with floating rates, or dump the local currency altogether and be part of a larger system instead.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1695790 - 07/08/03 09:28 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

The tobin tax would be a good idea to combat the affects of currency speculation.


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 33,806
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Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1695795 - 07/08/03 09:34 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

There are too many taxes now.

A tax on currency speculation added to the income tax on the profits, would just be one more way of giving money to those who have done nothing to deserve it


--------------------
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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OfflineRhizoid
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Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1695864 - 07/08/03 10:19 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

The tobin tax might slow down speculation a bit, but it's hard to implement and it will ultimately place a lot of money in the hands of a central authority (James Tobin suggested the World Bank). Do we want that? It also doesn't address the real problems behind mispriced currencies.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1695873 - 07/08/03 10:25 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Im sure if there was a real willingness to help those who are affected by currency speculation from those who gain from it then we would have no need for any kind of tax. Sadly there are too many greedy people in the world at the moment. Thats something for the DNA to sort out.

By the way, how many kids u got Luvvie?


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Always Smi2le


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
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Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1695893 - 07/08/03 10:35 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Zero.

Bet that makes you happy.

And don't get your hopes up, the DNA of the strong and smart (or as you call them.... greedy) will win out. Stupidity, laziness, and the like will fade away as the US returns to the right. The rest of the world will follow soon enough.


--------------------
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1695905 - 07/08/03 10:42 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Lol! boy is your belief system in for a bumpy ride.....


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 33,806
Loc: Lost In Space
Re: The Superrich [Re: GazzBut]
    #1695909 - 07/08/03 10:45 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Well either yours or mine.... time will tell. Especially seeing as thanks to all the taxes and the declining birth rate over there, you guys will start sinking faster than your worst nightmare.


--------------------
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: The Superrich [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1695925 - 07/08/03 10:54 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Bring it on. Perhaps it will shock people to their senses. If that what it take, thats what it takes.


--------------------
Always Smi2le


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