[corp-focus] Economic Apartheid in America
Fri, 18 Nov 2005 15:55:03 -0500
ECONOMIC APARTHEID IN AMERICA
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
Top executives now make more in a day than the average worker makes in a
You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy.
But you cannot have both.
-- Louis Brandeis
How wealthy the wealthy are does matter. If we allow great wealth to
accumulate in the pockets of a few, then great wealth can set our
political agenda and shape our political culture -- and the agenda and
the culture that emerge will not welcome efforts to make American work
for all Americans.
-- Sam Pizzigati
Plutocracy: 1. The rule or power of wealth or the wealthy; 2. A
government or state in which the wealthy class rules. 3. A class for
group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.
-- Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
Of the world's 100 largest economies, 47 are nations, and 53 are
Seventy-five percent of major corporations hire a consultant to stop
employees from forming a union.
The alarming development and aggressiveness of great capitalists and
corporations, unless checked, will inevitably lead to the pauperization
and hopeless degradation of the toiling masses. It is imperative, if we
desire to enjoy the full blessings of life, that a check be placed upon
unjust accumulations and the power for evil of aggravated wealth.
-- Constitution of the Knights of Labor, 1869.
The Washington monument is 555 feet tall. Say it signifies the 2003
average compensation for CEOs in the Fortune 500. The average worker
salary would be only 16 inches tall, representing a ratio of 419 to one.
In 1965, the worker's monument was 13 feet six inches tall, representing
a ratio of 41 to 1.
Inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this
generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals
of the generation which established our government.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Born on home plate -- Forty-two percent of those listed inherited
sufficient wealth to rank among the Forbes 400.
J. Paul Getty Jr. inherited the oil fortune from his father.
David Rockefeller Sr. ($2.5 billion) is the grandson of the Standard Oil
founder John D. Rockefeller.
S.I. and Donald Newhouse ($7 billion each) inherited the nation's
largest private newspaper chain, plus Conde Nast publications, from
their father in 1979.
Samuel Curtis Johnson ($1.5 billion) is the great grandson of the
flooring salesman who founded the floor wax giant S.C. Johnson and Sons.
The United Nations Development Program reported in 1999 that the world's
225 richest people now have a combined wealth of $1 trillion. That's
equal to the combined annual income of the world's 2.5 billion poorest
The richest 10 percent of the world's population receives 49.6 percent
of the total world income.
The bottom 60 percent receives 13.9 percent of the world's income.
The wealth of the world's three most well-to-do individuals now exceeds
the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries.
Half of the world's population of six billion live on less than $2 a
day, while 1.3 billion get by on less than $1 a day.
These are some of things you learn from a new book, just out, titled
Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality &
Insecurity by Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel with United for a Fair
Economy (The New Press, 2005).
The book is filled with photos, and charts, and graphs -- that make it a
great home schooling tool, for young and old alike.
It puts things in perspective.
It keeps you on your toes.
Then listen to a little Bill O'Reilly.
Then read it some more.
Contrast is good.
Stretch limousines are longer, yet more people are homeless.
Thirty zip codes in America have become fabulously wealthy.
Meanwhile, whole urban and rural communities are languishing in
unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, growing insecurity and fear.
It makes the perfect gift for the holidays.
And you probably won't find it Wal-Mart.
Or Costco, for that matter.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter, <http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com>. Robert Weissman is
editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,
<http://www.multinationalmonitor.org>. Mokhiber and Weissman are
co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of
Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).
(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
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