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The 400 Richest Americans Are Now Richer Than the Bottom 50 Percent Combined The 400 Richest Americans Are Now Richer Than the Bottom 50 Percent Combined

The 400 Richest Americans Are Now Richer Than the Bottom 50 Percent Combined

by Cord Jefferson

March 11, 2011


On Wednesday we told you that a rather shocking number of American politicians aren't much like most Americans at all, pulling in six-figure salaries to add to their existing seven-figure fortunes. Today, thanks to some quick math by the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, there's another way to look at how rich our leaders are compared to the rest of the country: In 2009, if you were to add up the total fortune of America's richest 400 people, that amount—$1.27 trillion—would be more than the holdings of the bottom 50 percent of Americans, less than $1.22 trillion.

Says Moore:

By contrast, in 2007 the bottom 50% of U.S. households owned slightly more wealth than the Forbes 400; the economic meltdown has hurt the bottom more than the top. (And in fact, in 2010 the net worth of the Forbes 400 jumped to $1.37 trillion.)

That top 400, by the way, represents .0000035 percent of all households in the United States.

Granted, many of the nation's top earners, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, contribute a tremendous amount of their wealth to charity each year, and will continue to do so. But many others, like Charles and David Koch, who contribute to a wide range of right-wing causes, are also actively fighting to weaken working-class rights (as they did in the recent Wisconsin union fracas).

On top of all this, it's worth mentioning that, of the 25 richest Americans, just three are women, and none is a person of color.

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