While the Rich Get Richer

November 27 , 2009

While the recession and the government's economic policies are forcing tens of millions of Americans into dire poverty, other people are doing rather well for themselves.

On October 30, Forbes magazine published its annual listing of the 400 richest Americans. 391 were billionaires (in 1982, the first year that Forbes ranked the wealthiest Americans, it included only 13 billionaires.) Forbes also put the net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans at $1.27 trillion.

400 people own $1.27 trillion – 400 people own more than the total yearly income of 40- 50 million American households. These 400 have accumulated a quantity of wealth equivalent to $11,000 for every American household. How should one characterize a society in which 400 people own $1.27 trillion while 39.8 million people live below the official poverty line, while over 1/3 of all newborn infants are condemned to poverty?

Yet more, the wealth of these 400 people comes from their ownership of the means of production. By monopolizing the tools of society – tools which have only been created through generations of labor by the working masses – the 400 have accumulated their fortunes by extracting the sweat and blood of the workers. By owning the tools of society the 400 control the entire economic life of the country and continue to accumulate more and more wealth by further exploiting the labor of the people.

In the face of such enormous inequality, in the face of unemployment, homelessness, sickness and poverty, don't the masses of people have every right (and every possibility) to solve their economic problems by Making the Rich Pay for the crisis of their capitalist system? Isn't the practical problem facing the workers to take the ownership and control of society's economic lifelines out of the hands of the billionaires and to put the economy under the control of the workers and masses of the people themselves?