Letter to the Editor | Financial warfare is being waged

Letter to the Editor | Financial warfare is being waged

In 2014, Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published, through the National Bureau of Economic Research, "Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data," available online with easily readable charts.

With sound data and transparent methodology, they argue that since 1979, "the rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1 percent (1/1,000) wealth share, from 7 percent to 22 percent in 2012 — a level almost as high as 1929."

In 2012 dollars, between 1986 and 2012, the wealth growth rate of the bottom 90 percent of families averaged .1 percent per year, resulting in average wealth of $84,000, 22 percent of total wealth, down from 36 percent.

Meanwhile, the growth rate of the top 1 percent (1.6 million families) averaged 3.9 percent per year, resulting in average family wealth of $4 million and a 42 percent share.

Of this 1 percent, the top 0.1 percent (160,000 families) accounted for over half, a 22 percent share (equal to the bottom 90 percent, 144 million families), with an average of $73 million. Moreover, the top 0.01 percent of families (1/10,000) possessed 11 percent of private wealth, having increased its share from 2 percent in 1979.

Globalization, financialization, outsourcing, union busting and governmental austerity, along with militarism, have enforced this trend. Private equity, as in Larry Gies and Madison Industries, is one important piece of this larger neoliberal puzzle.

When the university celebrates his donation of appropriated wealth, it celebrates the relentless financial warfare he and the capitalist class wage against the vast majority of workers and families.