Wealth Inequality is Growing

The gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich said last week in a blog on his website.

"The richest Americans hold more of the nation's wealth than they have in almost a century," he wrote. "What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art and luxury penthouses."

Reich noted that the rich also give money to candidates for public office. He reported that "their political spending has been growing faster than their spending on anything else ... even faster than their wealth."

The former Clinton administration official cited a recently published study by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics. The researchers found that the richest one-hundredth of 1 percent of Americans enjoy more than 11 percent of the nation's wealth.

"That's a higher share than the top .01 percent held in 1929, before the Great Crash," Reich wrote. "We're talking about 16,000 people, each worth at least $110 million."

He explained that, in 1978, the typical member of the top .01 percent had 220 times more wealth than the average person. In 2012, the richest Americans had 1,120 times as much.

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