An important part of being a successful American citizen these days is tempering your expectations. Calmness. Deep breaths. Freedom from all forms of desire. So when you hear, for example, that your economically devastated city won't see a return to pre-recession employment levels for another decade, you'll be able to take that news with poise, rather than with a stroke.
You'll need that anti-stroke poise when you and your fellow unemployed city residents hear the latest news: the rich are getting richer! And richer! And richer some more! Not only has the top 0.1% of earners quadrupled its share of our nation's income in the past 35 years; but, thanks to new research, you can no longer say "Well those super rich people are all teevee stars and pro athletes and entertainers and that's just how it is blah blah blah not the hardworking Americans, can't blame companies, outliers, statistics, etc."
The top 0.1 percent of earners make about $1.7 million or more, including capital gains. Of those, 41 percent were executives, managers and supervisors at non-financial companies, according to the analysis, with nearly half of them deriving most of their income from their ownership in privately-held firms. An additional 18 percent were managers at financial firms or financial professionals at any sort of firm.
Yes, most super-rich people are just plain old business people! And they're getting super-rich thanks to Tajikistan-sized executive pay packages generously awarded to them by you, the notional shareholder! ("Notional," because you are too poor to actually purchase any shares. But you could, theoretically, because our brave men and women of the armed forces died in order to ensure your right to do so.)
We should also mention that corporations don't pay any taxes, because they have all the money, so they can hire lobbyists, who see to it that they don't have to pay any taxes, so they can keep more money to pay more lobbyists. To paper over this fact with a very thin layer of PR, corporations gave more money to charity last year—$15.3 billion total, which is only slightly more than the total amount of compensation awarded to top executives at 483 public companies in 2010. (Although, of course, those companies were giving shareholder money to the charities, not the executives' own money. But don't let that stop you from awarding some PR points to said executives, for their vague "good deeds!")
If you read every link in this story and don't want to start the revolution, we'll give you your money back! (You don't have any to begin with!)
[Photo of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein via AP]