Joe Bageant: Adam Smith Meets Cousin Ronnie's Boy:
"Regardless of media-manufactured underclass hallucinations as to class, only one class is paying half a week's wages or more for a single doctor visit to a member of the other class. Only one class is counting on Social Security for its entire retirement income (at least 64% of Americans and rising, by last count.) Yeah, yeah, more than half of Americans are invested in the stock market through 401Ks etc. we are told. But only at a few thousand dollars per household. When it comes to the much-ballyhooed stock market, 10 % of Americans split the national hog between themselves, tossing the ears to the other 90%. At this point bona fide pinkos may be excused from reading the next paragraph. You've heard it a million times, but I just can't help myself, comrade.
Cometh the old familiar numbers so oft heard, but worth repeating in hope that their meaning may by mysterious courses known only to God, take spark in the football besotted minds of my fellow underclass mutts: The richest 10 percent of families own a little over 85% of all outstanding stocks, 87% of all financial securities, and 90% of all business assets. If you throw in assets such as homes, checking and savings accounts, CDs and money funds, and pension accounts, then 20% of Americans own 83% of all wealth. The bottom 20% have no assets, no net worth at all. Put simply, the top 20% eat the cake, the middle 60% eat the crumbs and the bottom 20% get to lick the plates while they do everyone else's dishes.
Most true liberals know these numbers by heart. So do conservatives, although conservatives these days seem to take perverse glee in them. They usually explain them in terms such as those of Michael Medford, who cherry picks Will and Ariel Durant's pop history books for gems like: 'Concentration of wealth is a natural result of concentration of ability and special attributes [one immediately thinks of George Bush and Paris Hilton] … "