said by Z80A:In 2005, 300,000 individuals who comprised the top tenth of 1% had nearly as much income as all 150 million Americasn who make up the economic lower half of our population. We have more in common with Brazil, Mexico and Russia. Countries where adults have the right to vote, but real political power is wielded by a relatively narrow, and rich, segment of society.
The problem the socialists don't see is the bottom 50% pay only 4% of the income taxes.
Additionally, that phenomenon has only gotten worse in the 30 years since Ronald Reagan asked "are you better off than you were 4 years ago?"
Average income for 90% of population peaked in 1973 at $33k. By 2009 it was $29k. For each dollar earned in 2005, the top 10% got 48.5 cents. That was the top tenth's greatest share since 1929. Most of the gains were in the top half of 1%, and most of that to the top tenth of 1%.
Distribution of income does not take place in a vacuum. It is the product of government rules. No society is free of regulation. Commercial sports leagues are exempt from the laws of competition, allowing them to charge more than they could get in a free market. Movie theaters and video arcades enjoy no such protection from competition for the limited amounts people can spend on entertainment. (Also, state AGs who devote pulic resources on lawsuits on behalf of investors in Auction Rate securities -- used by wealthiest Americans. Or, the FBI devoting public resources through special unit to investigate art theft to the benefit of a tiny fraction of the population.).
The financial elitel influence politics, where presidents and governors control who is appointed to enforce and interpret rules. Rule making was transferred from kings to nobles, to merchants and corporate boards who expanded commerce in their interest.
A century ago, Congress debated economic policy by reviewing the life cycle of a cow. 15 years ago they debated whether to regulate CDOs, CDSs, et. al. (the opaque instruments which transfered billions of dollars to a tiny handful of the population, and required society to backstop insurers like AIG so those dollars could be paid off!).
So, yes, you'd expect those who influence politics and enrich themselves through the shaping of public policy to pay more tax on the outcome of that influence. Outcomes like the top 10% of the population increasing their income by 33%. Or, the top centile who increased their incomes by a whopping 100%. All at a time when the average American saw their incomes drop 10%.
Likewise, when we ask Reagan's question today (whether we're "better off than we were 30 years ago?"), we shouldn't expect to be met with screeching sophomorics about "socialism."