Death, tax favors, and inequality: the certainties of American capitalism. Just last year, the 506 highest paid individuals in America made more money than the 30 million lowest paid full-time workers, according to a new analysis from DCReport.
David Cay Johnston, economics journalist and author of the report, argues that a growing yet still exclusive class of “executive” workers augment already existing inequality. Johnston points to how only 13 individuals made $50 million or more in 1997, compared to 506 in 2021. The average pay of those 506 individuals? $151 million.
“The savings and investments that the best paid employees can afford only widen the distance between America’s once vibrant but now hollowed out Middle Class and the Executive Class,” Johnston writes.
Meanwhile, the rich seldom pay taxes. Much of their wealth stems from stock and asset gains, whose taxes can be avoided. Loopholes like these, as well as carried interest and pass-through business income, allow the wealthiest to avoid fair taxation. Politicians have signed off on this. Recall Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema holding up President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act until a provision addressing the carried interest tax loophole was removed.
While the slowly-increasing “exclusive” class enjoys comfortable benefits and daily life, it remains expensive to be poor. Childcare, mobility, housing, health care, and even groceries cost much more proportionally for a working person than someone at the top.
It’s no secret how often our elected officials themselves contribute to these inequalities—whether by passing rich-favoring tax laws, inhibiting progressive legislation, or even being among the rich who commit insider trading.
Johnston argues that such inequality has led to millions of Americans being “willing to throw away their liberties” in the false hope that people like Donald Trump may alleviate financial woes.