Did you know that the 85 richest people in the world have about as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the entire global population does? In other words, 85 extremely wealthy individuals have about as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 do. This shocking statistic comes from a new report on global poverty by Oxfam. And actually Oxfam’s report probably significantly underestimates the true scope of the problem, because Oxfam relies on publicly reported numbers. At the very top of the food chain, the global elite are masters at hiding their wealth. In fact, as I have written about previously, the global elite have approximately 32 trillion dollars (that we know about) stashed in offshore banks around the world. That would be about enough to pay off the entire U.S. national debt and buy every good and service produced in the United States for an entire year. These elitists live on an entirely different planet than the rest of us do. In fact, according to Oxfam, the richest one percent of the global population has 65 times more wealth than the bottom half of the global population combined.
There is certainly nothing wrong with making money. In fact, the founders of the United States intended for this nation to be a place where free markets thrived and where everyone could pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, this country (along with the rest of the world) has moved very much in the opposite direction. Today, we have a debt-based global financial system which is dominated by gigantic predator corporations and big banks. Working together with national governments, these corporations and banks have constructed a system that I like to call “Corporatism” in which the percentage of all global wealth that is being funneled to the very top of the pyramid steadily grows over time.
The Founding Fathers were very correct to be very suspicious of large concentrations of power. In the early days of the United States, the federal government was very small and the size and scope of corporations was greatly limited. Our nation thrived and a huge middle class blossomed.
Sadly, over the past several decades the pendulum has completely swung in the other direction. Today, our society is completely and totally dominated by big banks, big corporations and big government.
And of course this is also happening in virtually every other nation on the face of the planet. The global elite have rigged the game to send just about all of the rewards their way, and it is working. The following are facts taken directly from Oxfam’s latest report…
•Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
•The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
•The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
•Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
•The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
•In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
Starting on Wednesday, several thousand members of the global elite will gather for the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland. The following is how USA Today described this conference.
For several days at the end of January, presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and corporate titans jostle with actors, rock stars and major influencers for top billing at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The confab takes place in the Alpine village of Davos, about 90 miles southeast of Zurich, and for a brief spell each year the pristine ski resort half-sheds its Graubünden roots and becomes a ground zero for the political and business elite.
Unless you are independently wealthy, you can forget about going to this conference. A ticket to Davos is going to cost you about $30,000, and that is on top of the $55,000 that it costs to join the organization.
Needless to say, it is an organization of the elite, by the elite and for the elite.
It’s time to press the “reset” button on the world, the founder of the World Economic Forum said Wednesday, addressing media ahead of the WEF’s much ballyhooed annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, that gets underway in a week’s time.
“The world is complex, it’s fast-moving, it’s interconnected, and we in Davos want to provide a mirror to the world as it is. It is not a meeting devoted to one set of issues. It’s a meeting that address the complexity of our world,” said Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman.
At first glance, that sounds pretty good.
Personally, I would love to hit a “reset” button for the global economy.
But what the elite mean by “reset” is much different from what most of the rest of us would mean.
“At an international level, the formal architecture for global governance was not designed for the interdisciplinary challenges and collective action problems of today. As a result, international cooperation has yet to fully enter the information age and capture its associated productivity gains.”
For the global elite, the answers to our problems always involve more centralization and more “global governance”. In other words, the answers to our problems always involve giving them more control and more power.
The elite never actually want the pendulum to swing back in the direction of the “little guy”. The elite are generally pleased with how the game is being played because they are winning.
Most people don’t even realize that they are participants in a debt-based neo-feudalist system in which money is being used as a form of social control.
As I have written about previously, there is about 190 trillion dollars of debt in the world, but global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars.
There is no way that all of this debt could ever be paid off at one time. It is mathematically impossible. Over time, all of this debt transfers the wealth of the planet away from us and to the global elite. If this game was allowed to go on long enough, eventually they would have nearly all of it.
And some would argue that we are already getting close to that point. A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the global population only owns approximately 1 percent of all wealth, and at this point about a billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry every night.
The election results made it abundantly clear that taxes are going to be going up, and right now a lot of wealthy people all over America are trying to figure out how to best position themselves for the hit that is coming. There are a whole host of tax cuts that are set to expire on December 31st, and many analysts are now speculating that we could see a race to dump stocks and other financial assets before 2013 in order to get better tax treatment on those sales. Of course it is still possible that Congress may reach a bargain which would avoid these tax increases, but with each passing day that appears to be increasingly unlikely – especially regarding the tax increases on the wealthy. Whatever you may believe about this politically, the truth is that we should all be able to agree that these looming tax increases provide an incentive for wealthy people to sell off financial assets now rather than later. After all, there are very few people out there that would actually prefer to pay higher taxes on purpose. If the race to dump financial assets becomes a landslide, could this push stocks down significantly late in the year? Already there are all sorts of technical signs that indicate that stocks are ready for a “correction” at the very least. For example, the S&P 500 has already closed below its 200 day moving average for several days in a row. Could the “sell off” that has already begun become a race for the exits?
A lot of Americans have heard about the looming “fiscal cliff”, but most don’t really understand the specifics.
For investors, there are several key changes which will happen unless Congress does something by January 1st.
First of all, the tax rate on capital gains will go from 15 percent to 20 percent. For those with high incomes, the rate will be even higher than that thanks to a tax increase that our politicians managed to sneak into Obamacare. So, some wealthy individuals will see their capitals gains taxed at nearly 24 percent in 2013 unless something is done.
For dividends, the outlook is even more frightening. The tax rate on dividends will increase from 15 percent right now to over 43 percent for the highest income earners.
We have already seen these tax increases play into business decisions that have been made in recent months. For example, it is being reported that George Lucas potentially saved hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by selling Star Wars to Disney this year rather than next year.
Anyone out there that wants to take advantage of the current tax rates on capital gains and dividend income better do so now, because these tax rates look like they are going to go away and they probably will not be back for a very, very long time.
According to CNBC, this makes the next couple of months an ideal time to dump stocks and other financial assets…
For many of the wealthy, 2012 is becoming a good year to sell.
They’re worried about the “fiscal cliff,” which is when tax cuts expire and spending cuts are set to go into effect at the end of the year.
Fearing an increase in capital gains and dividend taxes, many of the rich are unloading stocks, businesses and homes before the end of the year.
And the truth is that stocks simply did not have much higher that they could possibly go anyway. Anyone that is trying to “get out while the getting is good” should take heed of what Marc Faber recently told CNBC…
“The market is going down because corporate profits will begin to disappoint, the global economy will hardly grow next year or even contract, and that is the reason why stocks, from the highs of September of 1,470 on the S&P, will drop at least 20 percent, in my view.”
In fact, Faber is absolutely convinced that a full-blown stock market crash is coming no matter what happens with the fiscal cliff…
“I think the whole global financial system will have to be reset and it won’t be reset by central bankers but by imploding markets — either the currency [markets, debt market or stock markets,” he said. “It will happen — it will happen one day and then we’ll be lucky if we still have 50 percent of the asset values that we have today.”
Politics and economics have always been deeply intertwined. The results of the most recent election are going to have some very deep consequences. Already we have seen a large number of businesses either announce layoffs or that hours for their workers will be cut back. You can find a bunch of tweets from small business owners talking about how they won’t be hiring anyone or that they will be forced to reduce hours right here. You can find a bunch of tweets from average citizens all over the country talking about how their hours are already being cut back right here.
With each passing day, our country is getting poorer, it is getting even deeper in debt and our economy is becoming even more unstable. We are on a path that will only lead to total economic disaster, but the American people just voted for more of the same.
So now we will get to see how this all plays out.
Is there anyone out there that is still optimistic about what is coming next for the U.S. economy?
America is becoming a very cold place. If you don’t have money, you don’t really matter much in our society. The ads on television aren’t for you – they are directed at people that actually have good jobs and that can afford to buy the nice little “extras” in life. The politicians aren’t really interested in you either – they figure that they can buy your vote with all of the money that they are getting from the wealthy people. When you don’t have money, even friends and relatives start to distance themselves from you. Perhaps they are afraid that you will ask them for money or perhaps they are afraid that your “failure” will start to rub off on them. When people know that you are struggling for money, the barriers immediately go up. In the United States today, there are tens of millions of people that have been forsaken and forgotten. They mostly stay at home (if they still have a home), and for most of them quiet desperation has become a way of life. You won’t ever read much about them or see them appear much on television because nobody really cares too much about them. As far as society is concerned, there are just way too many of them and they are a problem that “the government” should be able to handle anyway. Sadly, the truth is that many communities all across America want absolutely nothing to do with those that can’t take care of themselves. All over the country cities are passing laws making it illegal to feed the homeless, and in other instances cities are actually making it illegal to be homeless. Unfortunately, this problem is not going away. In fact, the number of Americans living in poverty increases with each passing day. So where do we go from here?
These days, a lot of formerly middle class Americans are down on their luck and can’t even afford to buy enough food. The following is from a recent Yahoo article….
Cheryl Preston knows that others are worse off. But she’s still hungry.
As grocery prices creep higher and her income sags, rationing her family’s food is a daily task. The 54-year-old mother of three and grandmother of three in Roanoke, Va., says there are days she skips meals so her husband and son can eat. If they notice, she says, she’ll let them think she’s fasting. She waters down the milk and juice to make it last longer. She visits food pantries, but it’s not enough.
Have you ever had to skip meals because you simply could not afford to buy enough food?
Have you ever wondered how you were going to make it to the next paycheck?
When you look into the eyes of your hungry children and you realize that your best efforts have not been good enough to provide what they need it can be absolutely soul crushing.
And when you have lost everything it quickly becomes apparent that most people in society simply do not care about you.
About a third of the country is already on some form of welfare. Another family falling out of the middle class and into poverty is not going to cause anyone to sit up and take notice.
The middle class in America is being absolutely shredded. In a recent article I wrote entitled “84 Statistics That Prove That The Decline Of The Middle Class Is Real And That It Is Getting Worse” I detailed this very clearly. But most Americans don’t think about this very much because they are just focused on what is going on in their own little worlds. If they still have their jobs and if their family and friends are still doing okay then they are likely to believe that everything is just fine.
But everything is not fine.
According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971.
Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.
There aren’t enough good jobs in this country and there never will be enough good jobs ever again.
Those that are just entering the job market understand very clearly that there are not enough good jobs.
Of the recent college graduates that have been fortunate enough to actually get a job, about half of them have taken jobs that do not even require a college degree.
But at least if you have a job, even if it is really crappy, you still matter in this economy.
Many of those that are not working at all have been completely forsaken and forgotten.
Over the past year, approximately 1.3 million Americans have seen their extended unemployment benefits end. Most of them are considered to have “dropped out of the labor force” even though they aren’t working, they don’t have any income coming in and they are very desperate. They are told to go “get a job” in an economy that does not produce enough jobs for everyone. The music stopped playing and they were left without a seat and nobody really cares too much.
But if you live in the good areas of New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle this article might seem like complete nonsense to you. After all, corporate profits are at an all-time high and the stores and malls where you live are packed with people. Everyone around you is driving new cars, wearing designer clothes and using the latest tech gadgets.
But it is not like that everywhere in America.
There are two Americas today. One is swimming in money and is seemingly more prosperous than ever.
The other America is a complete and total economic nightmare.
But those that are paying millions of dollars for dinky little apartments in New York City may be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Well, in the forgotten areas of America “despair” is what people experience on a good day. Unemployment and government dependence are a way of life, and alcohol and drugs are used to dull the pain. The following is from a recent article by Chris Hedges. It describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia….
Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”
The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.
There are hundreds of small towns all over America today just like Gary that have been forsaken by society. Most people in those towns are just “existing” and gave up all hope of a better life long ago.
Some of these stories are being told in a new documentary film called “American Winter”. You can view the trailer for the film right here. It is a very powerful 5 minutes and 41 seconds.
Sadly, the truth is that there really does not need to be so much suffering in America.
And the overwhelming greed that we see in society today is absolutely astounding.
For example, Yahoo recently profiled a hoarder who packed her home with $500,000 worth of “stuff” that she could not resist buying….
There are shoe closets, and then there are shoe rooms. Monte, a retired teacher in her fifties, had scattered $20,000 worth of footwear throughout six rooms in her home. Some were organized by color, but most lay in mountainous piles of clutter in her 4,000 square foot home outside Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Over a period of 10 years, she’d spent over $500,000 on clothing, accessories and home furnishings, all of which lay strewn across her kitchen, entryway and bedrooms, tags intact.
But far worse are the “Rich Kids of Instagram“. It has apparently become trendy for wealthy kids to take pictures of themselves enjoying their outrageous wealth. It truly is disgusting.
Meanwhile, most American families are really struggling to get by. In fact, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.
And jobless claims are rising again. We are on the verge of another major economic crisis and that means that millions more Americans are going to lose their jobs and their homes.
If you think that things are bad now, just wait, because things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and help those that are hurting. When things are the darkest, that is when heroes are needed the most.
Do you want to get rich? Just get elected to Congress. The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are absolutely packed with wealthy people that are very rapidly becoming even wealthier. The collective net worth of the members of Congress is now measured in the billions of dollars. The people that we have elected to the House and Senate are absolutely swimming in money. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get elected to Congress. In this day and age you generally have to be heavily connected to those that are very wealthy to get into Congress because it takes gigantic amounts of cash to win campaigns. But if you can get in to the club, you pretty much have it made. The numbers that you are about to read are very difficult to believe and they should deeply sadden you. They show that Congress has become all about money. Congressional races are mostly financed by wealthy people, most of the people that we elect to Congress are very wealthy, and they rapidly get wealthier after they are elected. All of this money has turned our republic into something far different than our founding fathers intended.
The following are 12 statistics about money and Congress that are so outrageous that it is hard to believe that they are actually true….
#1 The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress increased by 25 percent between 2008 and 2010.
#3 This happened during a time when the net worth of most American households was declining rapidly. According to the Federal Reserve, the collective net worth of all American households decreased by 23 percent between 2007 and 2009.
#5 The net worth of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi increased by 62 percent from 2009 to 2010. In 2009 it was reported that she had a net worth of 21.7 million dollars, and in 2010 it was reported that she had a net worth of 35.2 million dollars.
#8 In 2008, the average cost of winning a seat in the House of Representatives was $1.1 million and the average cost of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate was $6.5 million. Spending on political campaigns has gotten way out of control.
#9 Insider trading is perfectly legal for members of the U.S. Congress – and they refuse to pass a law that would change that.
#11 U.S. Representative Darrell Issa is worth approximately 220 million dollars. His wealth grew by approximately 37 percent from 2009 to 2010.
#12 The wealthiest member of Congress, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, is worth approximately 294 million dollars.
So how are members of Congress becoming so wealthy?
Well, there are lots of ways they are raking in the cash, but one especially alarming thing that goes on is that members of Congress often make investments in companies that will go up significantly if legislation that is being considered by Congress “goes the right way”.
This is called a “conflict of interest”, but it happens constantly in Congress and nobody seems to get into any trouble for it.
The following is video of Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes ambushing Nancy Pelosi about one particular conflict of interest involving credit card legislation. As you can see, she does not want to talk about it….
As noted above, insider trading is perfectly legal for members of Congress.
So has this been a significant benefit to members of Congress?
Well, there has been at least one study that appears to indicate that members of Congress have been much more successful in the stock market than members of the general public have….
A 2004 study of the results of stock trading by United States Senators during the 1990s found that that senators on average beat the market by 12% a year. In sharp contrast, U.S. households on average underperformed the market by 1.4% a year and even corporate insiders on average beat the market by only about 6% a year during that period. A reasonable inference is that some Senators had access to – and were using – material nonpublic information about the companies in whose stock they trade.
Of course all of this could just be a coincidence, right?
Meanwhile, members of Congress keep telling the rest of us that we are just going to have to cut back because times are tough.
For example, during an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Nancy Pelosi actually claimed that we should try to encourage poor people to have less children because it costs the government so much money to take care of them….
PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?
PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.
That represents a huge number of favors that need to be paid back.
In 2012, it is being projected that 8 billion dollars could be spent on political campaigns.
When big corporations and wealthy individuals shovel huge piles of money into political campaigns, it is generally because they expect something in return.
Most of those that get sent to Congress realize that they never would have won if wealthy donors had not showered cash on them. Most of them understand that they should not bite the hands that feed them if they want the cash to keep rolling in.
Politics in America has become a game that is played by the elite for the benefit of the elite.
Average Americans have the perception that they are involved in the process and that their opinions really matter, but mostly it is just an illusion.
It is so sad.
Meanwhile, members of Congress rapidly get wealthier and average American families continue to suffer. In fact, the standard of living in the United States has fallen farther over the past three years than at any other time that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.
But for members of Congress the good times just keep on rolling.
Just as it has been for most of human history, the rich rule over the poor.
Does anyone out there believe that we have any hope of changing this?