Occupy Wall Street movement: What the figures tell us about the income gap -Part02Let us crunch some numbers today. Yeah, my favorite part! I love numbers. Numbers tell a story and numbers don't lie. And most importantly, numbers (data) are needed to substantiate any argument. Numbers also help us to comprehend a big picture.
Let us start with the wealth—who owns what, and how much? Please note that I am showing the data according to the US Census Bureau, by groups: White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic.
(a) Assets among the groups
The table below shows the quantity of median assets held by each group in 2005 and 2009:
White - $134,992
Black - $12,124
Hispanic - $18,359
Asian - $168,103
White - $113,149
Black - $5,677
Hispanic - $6,325
Asian - $78,066
What do you see—a blue sky? I see a storm is on its way, unless the trend is changed somehow!
Notice that all the groups lost assets in a period of around five years. Also, notice the disparity among the groups. (And wait until I show you the interesting thing within the group!)
In percentage terms, each lost:
White - 16%
Black - 53%
Hispanic - 66%
Asian - 54%
Now look at the numbers in terms of the country's population. The total US population is about 310m now, however, for our calculation we will use 300m to make it easy.
Here is a breakdown of the population based up on a total of 300m:
White 65%; 195m
Black 12%; 36m
Hispanic 16%; 48m
Asian 5%; 15m
Other 2%; 6m
Thus, from the above median numbers, 18m Blacks own less than $5,677 worth of assets and 24m Hispanic own less than $6,325 worth of assets. Black and Hispanic combined (42m) own less than $6,325 worth of assets in the US.
Again, does this scare you? If not, keep reading.
(b) Assets within the groups
Here is an interesting trend: when the median assets fell from 2005 to 2009, the 10% in each group managed to increase their share of wealth. Surprise! Disparity within the groups! Here is a breakdown:
Top 10% of all Hispanic households' assets, as percentage of total assets:
Top 10% of all White households' assets, as percentage of total assets:
This means, 4.8m Hispanic and 19.5m White own 10% of the assets within their own group. I could not find the data for Blacks and Asian. I assume the same trend took place among them.
For our purpose, we can conclude that 10% of the total population owns most of the assets in this country. Ironically, this is true in most of the countries in the world. The 1% crap that people talk about has further narrowed it down perhaps, which is not important at all.
To build our case, it's a threat—and a huge one—to show the concentration of assets among 10% of the population. Capitalism cannot sustain its stability in long run if we are unable to break this trend. It's OK, or at least sustainable, for third world countries to survive within that concentration, but for a first world country like the US, it is impossible to continue like this and claim to be the first one in the first world. Now let us go one step further.
###\(c) No assets or negative assets
The table below shows the number of people without any assets or negative assets:
2005 — 2009
White: 11%, 15%
Black: 29%, 35%
Hispanic: 23%, 31%
Notice, among all groups the number of people without any assets or negative assets increased. Now, look at this in terms of population: 21.4m White, 12.6m Black, and 14.9m Hispanic people don't have any assets or negative assets.
Thus, the total number of people is approximately 48.9m without the Asian people without any assets. Let us say about 50m people in this country DO NOT have any assets.
Do we still call the US a first world country when 50m out of 300m people own nothing? The length of the bridge between the haves and have-nots justifies the capitalism's gravity and its existence in a given country. We can force it to exist for a while, but in time it will collapse. And this is exactly what is taking place in the US in front of our own eyes! If 50 million people who have nothing to lose come down on the street, can a country sustain its stability? How about 25 million people or 10 million?
Is the cause for an intellectual movement substantiated enough with the above figures? Is it enough to scare any educated person in the US? How about our leaders?
Now let us look some data from the corporate world. Here is a list of 10 largest banks in the US in terms of their assets (in Billions of dollars):
Bank of America: $2,264
J.P. Morgan: $2,247
Wells Fargo: $1,260
Goldman Sachs: $937
Morgan Stanley: $831
HSBC No America: $366
Wait a minute! Are we talking about the same banks that were supposedly saved with our tax money? Where is the other part of the equation? Wasn't the bailout theory for a collective good? Then, how come mass people are not in the equation?
Now it's your turn to interpret!
However, I will provide you with some interesting facts:
a) The largest banks (Banks of America, Citigroups, Wells Fargo, etc.) earned $34 billion in profit in the first six month of 2011. This is higher than any other year (for six months period) except 2007, in which the profit was almost the same.
(Didn't Bank of America try to charge $5.00 for using a debit card recently to recoup some of their cost? Dumbfounded! Damn, my accounting skills - no good!)
b) Securities firms (the trading arms of big banks and other independent firms) made $83 billion of profit in Obama's first two and half years of administration compared to $77 billion during the 8 years of Bush administration.
c) Obama received $15.6 million for his campaign from the Wall Street financial executives and this amount is more than the total received by all the Republican candidates combined.
And where in the hell I am going with this? Yes, hell is the only word I could think of right now! If the above is not enough to substantiate our cause, we can look for more data. This should be enough to get scared and scare others to call for changes — revolution or not! Otherwise, we must agree that we are intellectually incapable to foresee our future.
Note: Data are obtained from Census bureau, Pew Research Center, and Washington Post. Interpretation, however is mine and now it will be yours! I hope somebody from the Wall Street Movement reads my article and think about it to reorganize and regroup their revolution.
Look out for part 3, coming soon.
Summary: Let us substantiate our cause for a revolution by looking at the breakdown of the assets in the US - who owns how much, and its impact.
(Was Published in viewshound.com in Sept-Oct, 2011)