January 1st, 2012
11:22 AM ET

Chart: The ruling class

Article excerpt from NYT, chart from William Domhoff, Sociology Department, UC-Santa Cruz via Andrew Sullivan.

"There is broad debate about just why the wealth gap appears to be growing. For starters, the prohibitive costs of political campaigning may discourage the less affluent from even considering a candidacy. Beyond that, loose ethics controls, shrewd stock picks, profitable land deals, favorable tax laws, inheritances and even marriages to wealthy spouses are all cited as possible explanations for the rising fortunes on Capitol Hill.

"What is clear is that members of Congress are getting richer compared not only with the average American worker, but also with other very rich Americans.

"While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent, based on inflation-adjusted data from Moody’s Analytics.

Going back further, the median wealth of House members grew some two and a half times between 1984 and 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars, while the wealth of the average American family has actually declined slightly in that same time period, according to data cited by The Washington Post...."

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Jared

    This is the year that the world solidifies a movement toward democracy and finds its collective voice. http://www.ufeud.com/debate.aspx?ID=590

    January 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  2. Joe

    Congressional leaders are like any group of people, they can be bought off by the wealthy 1%, hence the Right wing has asserted it's ridiculous propaganda campaign of the 90's for the second time in recent history. While the Democrats fought for silly gay marriage rights and environmental issues the middle class was robbed of all of its wealth. The fact America has shifted so far right since Reagan could be used as an argument the Democrats were bought by this trend, visa fight fringe issues as opposed to true equality.

    January 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Not only are many of the members of Congress rich, they also get a salary, paid by the taxpayers. A member and a Congressional leader get paid between $160, 000 and $183,500 per year. The Speaker of the House of Representatives earns over $200,000. Their office and staff are also paid for. Indeed the congressional salary is four to five times higher than a median American income. Moreover many of them focus on lobbying rather than serving the American people.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    • Mekhong Kurt

      I've seen figures for office and staff members of Representatives and Senators, and though I can't cite them and do know that SOME of them are pretty darned high compared to Americans' income nationally, I do recall that collectively they would nowhere NEAR be worth four-five times that of everyone else.

      I'm not defending the expenses, exactly, but the salaries are not as high as you think, on average.

      January 5, 2012 at 2:34 am | Reply
  4. criscocorner

    Create a surtax on top of the income tax that would create publicly funded elections where no political donations are allowed and all of the special interests are out of campaigning. The reality is that citizens who want to see the money out of politics would have to pay a small price of their hard earned dollars to see their ideals come to true.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  5. Charlotta

    Ban all campaign contributions. All of them. And make bribery illegal again. And remove the fake personhood from corporations and make the corporate officers accountable. Do the same to all organizations. Make the bosses responsible for their actions. Do it to religious organizations too. And tax all organizations and corporations. No exceptions. Equality under the law.
    Do it.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply
  6. matt curd

    All that corruption and moral debasement, and no backbone. We've regretably got what we voted for.

    January 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Reply

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