by Dr. G.S. Potter | Contributor’s Composition | @doc_strategy | Strategy Camp
$100 trillion. That’s the total amount of wealth accumulated by the households in the United States of America. One hundred trillion dollars.
If it were distributed evenly to each of the 328 million people in the US, every individual would be able to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with a net worth of approximately $305,000. Distributed by household, each individual or family would be cozily nestled with a nest egg of more than $805,000. Is your household worth more than $800,000? Do you personally have a couple hundred grand in the bank stored away for a rainy day?
Probably not. Only about 15% of households have a net worth over $800,000. But you should. So why don’t you?
Is it because you aren’t smart enough? Is it because you don’t work hard enough? Is it because you aren’t a good enough person? You might be a thick-headed, loaf-loving sugar donkey for all I know. But that’s not why you’re broke.
You are broke because instead of maintaining a social contract that results in wealthy, healthy, and happy citizens — the American political system allows 1% of the population to hold 40% of the wealth. You are broke because a small percentage of the population is hoarding your money - 20% of the US population is hoarding 90% of it.
The Widening Income Gap
80% of the population is forced to split 10% of the nation’s wealth. And that actually goes to the middle 40% of the population. The 20% below them get nothing and the bottom 20% are in debt. That is why you are broke.
If we look at income — which is all the bottom 40% are living off of — over 80 million people living in 34 million households don’t earn enough to make ends meet. They have a household income of around $50,000 per year or less that is supposed to cover the needs of multiple people. They have no savings. They often go without the basics. They frequently have children that go without the basics.
Around 49 million of these people in 19 million households have sunken below the federal poverty line. That means they make around $18,000 per year or less per household — in a nation where the average one bedroom apartment costs over $1,000 per month and rental requirements generally demand fantastic credit, an income of three times the rent or more — plus first month’s rent, last month’s and a deposit.
Meanwhile, there are approximately 540 billionaires in the United States hoarding approximately $2.4 trillion. There are an additional 14.8 million millionaires, 7.6 million of whom are multimillionaires. These people have hoarded close to $80 trillion of the wealth in the United States. The top 1% hold onto $40 trillion of it themselves.
The bottom 10% has at least $963 worth of debt. And well over 70 million people are on government assistance.
Close to 48 million people in 23 million households receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They receive an average of $133 per month to eat. Over 10 million receive Social Security disability benefits. They are somehow supposed to find a way to survive off of an average $556 per month. 5 million people are able to access some form of housing or housing assistance through programs such as Section 8, Section 2, and HOPE VI. If you include the 8 million people receiving assistance through WIC, that’s 71 million people accessing federal assistance to survive at the most basic and often insufficient levels.
And there are still millions more people struggling to survive that aren’t accessing federal assistance. A livable wage in the United States can range between $43,000 and $68,000 depending on what state you live in. For the purpose of discussion it is safe to say that $50,000 per year would be a fair minimum annual salary for the United States.
Currently, around 40% of the population earns less than that $50,000 per year.
Closing the Gap: #WealthTax
Solution: To close the gap between a household’s income (or lack thereof) and a living wage for all 57.2 million struggling households — it would cost the nation approximately $1.3 trillion dollars.
Actually, it wouldn’t cost the nation or 99% of the population a thing. It would cost the top 1% by net worth — those who hold personal assets of over $10.3 million or more after accounting for debt — a trivial 3.25% tax on their wealth.
A 3.25% tax on the wealth of the top 1% would yield $1.3 trillion dollars.
It would take $1.27 trillion dollars and an act of Congress to level the economic playing field in the United States. That act of Congress would enforce a Wealth Tax of 3.25% on the top 1% of accumulators. With holdings totaling $40 trillion, that would amount to $1.3 trillion dollars — enough to administrate and fund the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of at least 52.7 million households.
52.7 million households that contain voters. Voters that can vote through Members of Congress in 2020 so we can start cashing our checks by 2021.