Happy 4th Of July! American Income Inequality Hits Historic High

As people head out to celebrate America’s independence, some people have more to celebrate than others. A LOT more.

Even as the economy recovers from the financial collapse engineered by the rich, those same people managed to reap almost all the rewards, leaving the rest of us to scramble for the scraps. And while the rich whine about how persecuted they are, a new study shows that income inequality in America is at an all time high with no signs of slowing down.

How bad is it? Very:

While the past two years have been good for the majority of Americans’ income growth, they still haven’t fully recovered from the recession. For the bottom 99 percent, incomes fell 11.6 percent during the height of the recession from 2007 to 2009. Afterward, they grew just 7.6 percent between 2009 and 2015 — not enough to make up for the downturn. Incomes for the 99 percent have only recovered about 60 percent of what they lost.

But the rich are doing great. The incomes of the 1 percent grew 37 percent between 2009 and 2015. They captured more than half of all the income growth in the country over that period, leaving just 48 percent to spread out among the bottom 99 percent of families.

The Washington Post writes about a study of income inequality throughout the entirety of America’s existence and the two researchers found that today’s inequality is the worst it’s ever been and steadily getting worse. Even when the country was first founded and most people lived on farms, the rich were not far separated from the poor. In fact, even the “Gilded Age” which saw obscene amounts of wealth concentrated in the hands of the few was not as obscene as it is now. Here’s the chart they used:

(Excerpted from Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700. Courtesy of Princeton University Press)

(Excerpted from Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700. Courtesy of Princeton University Press)

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If you’ll notice, the sharp upturn of income inequality started in the 1970s when unions started to dwindle and corporations started to increase worker productivity while refusing to share the profits from it. You’ll also notice that the sharpest climb came after the 2008 financial crisis.

This hoarding of wealth is what has lead to the 1% attempting to completely co-opt our system of government by buying politicians outright. The bad news is that this is going to get much worse before it gets better. The good news is that the rich always lose these fights in the end. The British lost when they tried to bleed the colonies dry. The southern slave holders lost when they tried to maintain their control over their “property.” The Robber Barons lost when they tried to turn America into their own personal playground. And the current crop of greedy, soulless 1%ers will lose this time as well.

Soon-to-be Hillary Clinton may not go after the rich with both barrels blazing, but she, like Obama before her, will lay the foundation for the 99% to take our country back. By quietly rebuilding the government institutions and courts the GOP crippled, we’re going to have the tools we need to wrest control away from the corporations and stop the decline of the middle class and the suffering of the poor.

So light those fireworks, America! We’re almost ready to declare our independence from the 1%!


Featured image via Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images