WASHINGTON – The super-rich in the United States
and their counterparts in other parts of the world
have committed what could only be described as an
attempted coup d’état. They are not only controlling
the economy, especially the financial sector, but
are also seeking to take control of political
As in other countries which implemented versions
of the neoliberal recipe, the United States is
characterized today by an economic inequality and/or
concentration of wealth without precedent since the
period before the Great Depression. It is the
country with the greatest economic inequality in the
Here are some figures: 400 individuals in the U.S.
own more wealth than the poorest half of the
American population, 150 million people. The Walton
family, of Wal-Mart fame, is worth almost $90
billion, more than the bottom 40% of the U.S.
population. The richest 1% percent controls 40% of
the nation’s wealth.
Meanwhile, analysts expect the level of poverty
in the U.S. to reach its highest point in almost 50
years, the Associated Press reports. One of every
six (and almost one of every four) American children
lived in poverty last year and the forecast is for
greater numbers in the next three years.
According to research by University of California
economists, while the income of the wealthiest 1% in
the U.S. doubled between 1980 and 2010 (the income
of the wealthiest 0.1% tripled), the income of the
lowest 90% fell almost 5%.
As in the developing countries, the wealthy here
insist that they are the engine of the economy, that
their interests are "the national interests" and
that they generate jobs, investment and
"opportunity," as well as resources for development
through the taxes they pay.
But just like the rich in the Third World
countries we know, the interests of the rich have
little to do with national interests. And a new,
exhaustive report confirms this.
The rich do not invest their fortunes in their
own countries or pay the taxes that they owe their
nation, but do everything they can to hide their
wealth and evade their fiscal responsibilities.
Between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in financial
wealth are hidden in fiscal havens or foreign banks
(about 80 foreign jurisdictions), including both
legal assets and those obtained through illegal
deals, according to a new report The Price of
Offshore Revisited, by the research network Tax
Justice Network. That amount exceeds the combined
GDP of the United States and Japan.
That treasure is not part of calculations on
inequality (in itself extravagant: the poorest 50%
of the world’s population own % of the world’s
wealth, while the richest 10% own 84% of the world’s
wealth) nor on debt accounting; when it is included,
everything looks worse. The report was written by
James Henry, former chief economist of McKinsey &
Co., international consultants, and an expert on
If one includes the treasure transferred to
fiscal havens or countries with discreet banking
systems (such as the Cayman Islands or Switzerland),
the inequality is far greater than heretofore
calculated. According to the report, more than 30%
of the world’s financial wealth is controlled by
91,000 persons, or 0.001% of the world’s population.
This club, with its aides in the world’s
principal banks, has the power to sink economies, to
announce that countries like Greece, Spain, Mexico –
and, yes, the United States – do not have the
resources for social expenditure and must lay off
millions of workers and practice policies of
austerity, while its members hide the fortunes they
have extracted from their people away from the reach
of their own countries, funds sufficient to create
jobs and national development in large parts of the
In 139 "low-middle income countries" studied in
this investigation, between 1970 and 2010, these
elites had transferred sums ranging from $7.3
trillion to $9.3 trillion in unrecorded offshore
wealth, while the foreign debt of those countries
reached $4.08 trillion in 2010.
"The problem is that these countries’ assets are
held by a few wealthy individuals, while their debts
are shouldered by ordinary people through their
governments," the report says.
The fiscal impact is enormous. If this hidden
wealth, consisting of at least $21 trillion, earned
just 3% in interest, and that amount were taxed by
governments at 30%, it would generate tax revenues
of $189 billion per year, more than twice what the
OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development] countries currently spend on all
overseas development aid.
And, of course, this club of super-rich
institutions has huge political power in members’
countries. The Americans in this exclusive world
club have always had massive influence in this
country’s political-electoral games, but now, thanks
to the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United
case, some years ago, the super-rich have full "freedom
of expression" to spend unlimited funds on election
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders explained it
this way at a Senate hearing: "What the Supreme
Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same
billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You
own and control the economy, you own Wall Street,
you own the coal companies, you own the oil
companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your
wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to
own the United States government.’"
Apparently, this kind of coup d’état by a class
of super-rich – all in the name of "democracy" – is
being attempted in various corners of the world. (Taken
from La Jornada of Mexico)