Fifteen Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Ultra-Wealthy
The following article is cynical but true. For those of you not given to conspiracy theories, you probably won’t enjoy it. I’m not given to them either, except when they are true. I’ve never quite understood the policy of forsaking all conspiracy theories, especially if they happen to be an accurate depiction of what is happening.
Facts: the disparity between the income of us normal folks and the wealthy-elite is larger now than it has been in 120 years. This is not conjecture and this is not a subtle variance. The gap between the haves and have nots has been skyrocketing, especially since around 1980.
Despite the economic crises in recent history, despite the economic failure of many major banks, the people who have suffered are those in poverty, working class, middle class, and the wealthy. The ultra-wealthy, representing well less than one percent of the population, the ones who got us into this mess in the first place, are the only ones who have flourished.
If I have your ear, and you want an overview of how this happened, read the following.
1. They are not Necessarily Smart, Cultured, or Better than You in Any Way:
It’s a little-known fact that many of our wealthy-elite are dumb, rude, and altogether not very smart. Many of them don’t have to be smart because their parents or grandparents were smart for them. At this point they simply have employees hire employees for them that are smart.
In addition, they often lack even the most basic social skills that make civilized life possible. Most never do anything kind except for the commercial value of the gesture, and even then, the gesture is more hot air than action.
Disparity of Wealth
On a scale of 1-5, how bad would you rank the disparity of wealth problem in America?
2. The Ultra-Wealthy are not Usually Film Stars, Singers, Entertainers, Professional Athletes or the Person with the Nice House Down the Street:
One of the biggest misconceptions about the wealthy-elite is that they are famous people. Yes, pro athletes and entertainers can make lots of money, but they do not usually fall into the category of the wealthy-elite. Nor does the guy down the street from you with the ostentatious house.
There is a big difference between being wealthy and being a billionaire. So often our aggravation towards the disparity of wealth is errantly cast at those who are simply wealthy, when they actually carry very little of the blame for our problems.
Let’s say a person has 50-100 million dollars. This is not the type of person being bailed out by the poor or paying virtually no taxes. These are not the people singlehandedly paying congress for laws that benefit just them. These wealthy are nothing compared to the multi-billionaires that control the world.
3. There are Only Around 400 Wealthy-Elite:
In all, there are only around 400 people in this country that make up the wealthy-elite. These people represent about 75% of the nation’s money. To put this into perspective, these 400 have more money that the lower 150 million people in the United States.
4. The Wealthy-Elite Pay Themselves Obscenely High Salaries:
This may seem apparent, but I don’t think people fully understand the depravity in the salaries these people pay themselves. For example, a CEO in 1965 made about 20 times the salary of his or her workers. Currently conservative estimates put the average CEO’s pay at around 231 times that of the rest of us.
What is important to understand is that this sum is the salary paid to the CEO by their company, not the profit from success of the company, which they are also tied into. Not the company business account, which they also have access to. This is the salary they make regardless of fiscal success, so even if they run the company into the ground, they get rewarded as though they are successful.
5. You Probably Paid Their Salaries:
The Ultra-Wealthy can fail absolutely and still be given money from the government. Loans with virtually no interest and bailout money. So in essence, if you pay taxes, you gave them this money. Not only will they not let you use their pool on weekends, they don’t so much as send you a thank you card.
The irony in this is that they call all of us deadbeats. They whittle down all government programs to nothing, and they label everyone who is not them as blights on society, all the while leaching off the less fortunate.
6. There Has Not Been a Tax Cut in the Last 30 Years that Benefits Anyone but the Ultra-Rich and the Wealthy:
We need to educate ourselves regarding tax cuts. They are never for the rest of us. The only people reaping benefits on these sorts of things are the wealthy-elite and to a much smaller degree, the wealthy. Whenever you hear talk of tax cuts, just assume they are not for you, because they are not.
Does it seem right to you that, for example, a veteran fireman who puts his life on the line for a living pays roughly double the percentage in taxes of what a wealthy-elite person does?
7. They Complain about 45% of the Population not Paying Taxes:
Although the wealthy-elite pay virtually no taxes, they do pay a bit, though it is less than half the average percentage rate of what the average fulltime employee pays. Despite this, they still try to further marginalize those in poverty by saying they pay no taxes.
It is true that around 45% of society is so poor they are not required to file for taxes, but what these people are not exempt from is sales tax. The amount these people pay in sale tax is a higher portion of their meager salaries than what the wealthy-elite pay each year.
The concept that lower economic demographics don’t do their part to keep the country running is a ludicrous lie. The only people not pulling their weight are the wealthy-elite.
8. Only the Wealthy-Elite Get a Vote:
Republicans or Democrats, they all take money from the ultra-wealthy. This money requires favors. In return for campaign finance, elected officials allow lobbyists to write legislation for them, which they in turn pass, often without reading. With very few exceptions, the system doesn’t work. It is undermined by the money of the wealthy-elite.
9. The Ultra–Wealthy Want to Overthrow the Government:
As many billions of dollars as the super-wealthy dole out each year to make all the unethical things they like to do legal, they would much prefer to cutout the middle-man of government altogether. One of their favorite ways to do this is to cut all government programs to the point that they can’t succeed, and then use these emaciated programs as examples of why government programs don’t work.
The ultimate goal is to have no government and own everything, keeping the majority of us so uneducated and poor that resistance is futile.
10.They Want to Make It Impossible for Anyone Else to Succeed:
By paying lower taxes than the rest of us, and expecting all the poor people to pick up the slack, the wealthy-elite make it virtually impossible for others to succeed. For example, you open a Ma and Pa shop and you can’t get items as cheaply as they do, because you don’t own the company that makes them, and unlike the wealthy-elite, you are expected to pay taxes. The result is almost certain failure.
11.There is Virtually No Upward Mobility In This Country Because of the Super-Wealthy:
With a stranglehold on the government and almost no social accountability, the gap between the wealthy-elite and the rest of us continues to grow. I know we are fond of calling ourselves “the land of opportunity,” but at this point it is little more than just something people say.
The United State ranks 12th among developed nations in upward mobility. What this means is that in America we are born to what we’re born to, or perhaps things will get worse. It is very unlikely our social standing will ever improve.
Rank: Upward Mobility in Developed Nations
7. New Zealand
12. United States
13. United Kingdom
12.They Manipulate Us With Things Called “Think Tanks”:
A think tank in this instance is a group of people who are usually relatively intelligent employed by billionaires for evil. The overall purpose of these think tanks is to figure out how to sway information and peddle influence while keeping the population as confused as possible in regards to what is actually happening.
For example, they are the ones who put together elaborate plans that make it possible to take away rights of the individual, yet make the individual come away thinking they’ve been done a great favor.
13.They Spend Billions of Dollars to Fund Programs that Appear to be "Grass-Roots":
There are many supposedly “grass root” programs secretly funded by billionaires. The purpose of these programs is to dupe hard-working citizens into believing these programs represent them. They are actually positioned to make the super-wealthy wealthier. Their speakers spout off rhetoric about “freedom,” when the actual purpose is to allow large businesses more freedom from pollution laws, common decency, and responsibility.
They do a wonderful job of making the common people think they have their best interest at heart. They vilify public programs that help and hold up their workers, ridiculously, as fat-cats and social leeches. They denounce the common decency of helping one another because a virtually forgotten author wrote a ridiculous book in 1957 that supports this behavior.
They claim to be fervently Christian when all their beliefs are almost diametrically opposed to another book that is very popular and has stood the test of time: it’s called The New Testament.
They manipulate the public so successfully that most people don’t realize what they are voting for is actually hurting them. These supposed grass root programs abound. Some examples: “Americans for Prosperity Foundation” and “The Tea Party.” A good rule of thumb: until you know otherwise, just assume any political movement that has a patriotic name is for the benefit of the wealthy.
14.The Wealthy-Elite Have Virtually Done Away with Unions:
The various unions that made up this country are pretty much dead. Is it true that some unions bred corruption? Absolutely. And the ultra-rich have used this fact to vilify them altogether. They convinced us that somehow unions keep us from having jobs and take away our freedom of choice, while all the while their demise assured the wealthy-elite powerless employees.
Yes, there are negatives regarding unions, but when the alternative is to have no organization and no way to fight for equality, the good far outweighed the evil.
15.They Want You to Believe They are the Only Ones Who Can Lead Us:
When the banks failed, we were made to believe that we had to bail them out, because they were” too big to fail.” Though it is true we may have seen dark days for a longer period of time if we hadn’t saved their sorry butts, the simple fact is that this never would have happened had they been competent at their jobs in the first place.
Instead of giving these few people the money they lost, why couldn’t we have given it to other Americans? Is it really any sillier to give people who haven’t failed the opportunity to succeed than give the money right back to those who blew it? Let’s put it this way: what happened to our economy happened largely because too few people had too much influence. When too few people have all the money it is always a recipe for disaster. If we’re doing a bailout, why not redistribute the bailout money to a larger number of people so this sort of thing doesn’t happen again?
American Dream Versus Current Reality
I know that people from all walks of life are still able to realize the American dream, and failure has always been a possible outcome in any era, but the below examples overwhelmingly demonstrate the norm for how things were and are now.
High School Education:
Past Reality—With a high school education, you are supposed to be able to survive. For example, you should be able to acquire a job that pays well enough so that you can have a place to live and some manner of transport. You should be able to get married, have a child or two, and if you and your spouse both work, be able to retire at a reasonable age. Or if you don’t go the family route right away, you should have the means to better your circumstances through education: college, vocational school, etc, without incurring so much debt that you can never hope to recover.
Current Reality—With only a high school education, you will very likely end up homeless. The most likely best case scenario is that you will keep your head above water and every penny you earn will go to paying for things you can never own, like your apartment, until you are too old to work, at which time society will dispose of you. There will likely be no comfortable retirement in your future, and any children you have will likely repeat the cycle.
A Basic College Degree or Good Vocational Certification:
Past Reality—Barring terrible luck, with credentials like these you are supposed to have a relatively carefree existence. Home ownership should not be out of your grasp. Vacations with your family in the summer should be a yearly occurrence. It should be possible for you or your spouse to stay at home with the children through their youth if you choose. You should be able to take care of your offspring’s post-high school education without much of a problem.
Current Reality—Everyone has to work all the time. You’ll rarely see your children, and as soon as your kids are old enough, they are required to work in order for the family to function. Vacations happen rarely, if ever. You have a 30 year mortgage on your home, and between paying that and feeding your family, money is tight. Without a major academic scholarship, getting your child through college requires everyone working and budgeting carefully, but despite these efforts, student loans are heaped on top of your other debts.
If during this time any of this working unit loses their job and there is a gap between employment, everything falls apart. Even if you get your house bought and the kids through school, true retirement is probably still an impossible dream.
Starting Your Own Business:
Past Reality—With a little backing and education, you are supposed to be able to open your own business and have a decent shot at success. Not a franchise, but your own business.
Current Reality—You will face almost unconquerable conglomerates and all laws and regulations will be set up to ensure your failure.
Do you feel you have as much of an opportunity to move up socially as those before you?
Why are Things So Bleak Now for the Working Class Versus 30 Years Ago?
The quick answer to the above question is that salaries are way, way too divergent nowadays. Just imagine if CEOs, rather than paying themselves 231 times the norm, settled for 20 times the national average like before. Imagine if rather than the working class paying twice as much in taxes as the wealthy-elite, we paid lower taxes and the super-wealthy were expected to pay a slightly higher percentage than us, like in decades past.
The result would be everyone receiving appropriate pay. Not only would most everybody be able to survive on their salaries, more people would be able to make the transition from employee to employer.
This would lead to the re-diversification of our economy. Rather than a few people monopolizing the whole United States, we would have lots of employers succeeding in the marketplace. With more business owners, stability, and security from economic collapse would increase.
There seems to be a common notion in society that things have just changed somehow, and it is impossible now for things to go back to the way they were. And people just accept this, but the only thing that has changed is that the ultra-wealthy are not doing their part to help society. As a result, us with so little are picking up the slack and the results are obvious.
At one time in this society the soup lines were for the impoverished. Nowadays all the free meals go to the ultra-wealthy, and it isn’t soup, it’s surf and turf garnered with truffles.
Is There Any Hope for Change?
There is always hope, but our backs are against the wall. With Congress only listening to those that bankroll them, no strong unions to represent us, and the ultra-elite able to pay billions of dollars to fix the game, things look dire.
The biggest ally us common folk currently have, oddly enough, are the few wealthy-elite with conscience enough to know things need to change. Of the 400 hundred of our wealthiest running the world right now, there are three camps: Those who know what is being done is wrong and want to fix it, those who know what is being done is wrong but don’t want to fix it because it works in their favor, and those who know what is being done is wrong and are actively campaigning to keep things that way and further monopolize the money because they are sociopaths.
Because we don’t really have a government right now, but more of a bill-for-hire system, the only way things change comfortably is if the wealthy-elite who want a level playing field fight money with money. If these super-wealthy could restore things to a level of normalcy, the next item on the agenda would be to do away with the current lobbyist system entirely, because it is the vessel for almost all corruption in Washington D.C.
There are numerous books, documentaries, and even comical satires detailing the increasing problem of wealth disparity in America. For this article I relied heavily on the 2012 documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream.
I know that to those of you brought up to not complain all of this sounds like whiney hippie stuff, but I was brought up not to complain as well, unless you have to. This is a have to situation. The overall state of things is ridiculous. The level of corruption and stupidity that abounds with the wealthy few and the powers that be has reached heights not seen since the enactment of monopoly laws.
I usually like to give a noble reasoning for both sides of an argument before I break things down and make an assessment of which has more merit, but in the case of the disparity in wealth all I see is a population of hardworking individuals wondering why they can’t take care of their families anymore and a sector of the wealthy-elite knowing exactly why they can’t and doing everything in their power to make our lives even harder.
Democracy works. The problem is our current society is not a democracy. A few people buying all the rules of the world is not a democracy. We need to go back to a democratic system. I don’t know how anyone can realistically expect our society to function if we continue on this path. Things have to change.