Without a doubt the Great Recession, as it has been labeled — making it more severe than a Plain Recession and less severe than a Depression — has been caused by the concentration of wealth. The belief among economists, business leaders, and politicians is that we have survived the worst and that the only way forward is up. Gradually, but up. However, the facts indicate otherwise. The latest evidence is that over the past year the pace of wealth concentration has accelerated. Take a look at these numbers.
In 2009, the annual gross domestic product in the United States was $14.5 trillion. In January of this year, the US Government reported that during the last quarter of 2010 the economy was functioning at an annual rate of gross domestic product of $14.7 trillion, an increase in the size of the pie of less than 1.5 percent. Corporate profits, on the other hand, increased 10 percent, from $1.5 trillion during 2009 to an annual rate of $1.66 trillion during the final quarter of 2010. In 2009, corporations skimmed 10% off the top. After another year in a stagnating economy, and corporations increased their profits by 10%, increasing their annual skim to 11%, and they squeal that the economy would collapse if the workers tried to take any of that back.
And now we have the pleasure of receiving Forbe’s Magazine’s annual billionaire’s issue. Can you imagine how they made out during the past year? Like bandits. For one thing, there are more of them. A year ago there 1,101 worldwide. This year there are 1210, an increase of 10 percent. Not only are there more of them, their average wealth has increased $200 million, from $3.5 billion to $3.7 billion.
This acceleration in the pace of wealth concentration is convincing evidence that there are rough times ahead.
These numbers present a powerful message, but for some reason, the public is not getting it. Perhaps a program of “teach-ins” is in order, similar to the campaign conducted to educate the public about the Vietnam war.
Meanwhile, here’s today’s (r)evolutionary music: “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival