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Paul Buchheit
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 19 November 2012
“A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.”

Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged

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The numbers reveal the deadening effects of inequality in our country, and confirm that tax avoidance, rather than a lack of middle-class initiative, is the cause. 

1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.

According to both Market watch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds. 

2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.

In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland. 

3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.

The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world's Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that's $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places. 

Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion. 

4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.

After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes. 

U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They've passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers' payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it's 22 cents. 

5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.

That's enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders. 

That's enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN's World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food. 

For the free-market advocates who say "they've earned it": Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money. 

6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.

Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion. 

Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers. 

7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That's much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500). 

Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.

8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households. 

Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day

9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.

21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It's now less than $4,000. 

That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you're still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt

With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour. 

10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.

That's about the same amount of money made by America's richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding. 

Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.

The world derivatives market is estimated to be worth over a quadrillion dollars (a thousand trillion). At least $200 trillion of that is in the United States. In 2011 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported a trading volume of over $1 quadrillion on 3.4 billion annual contracts. 

A quadrillion dollars. A sales tax of ONE-TENTH OF A PENNY on a quadrillion dollars could pay off the deficit. But the total sales tax was ZERO. 

It's not surprising that the very rich would like to fudge the numbers, as they have the nation.

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ABOUT Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher with formal training in language development and cognitive science. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

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While some great points, all

While some great points, all it takes is a single dubious one for anyone to question the entire piece's validity. Especially when your redneck brother-in-law notices it. Not saying that happened, but it's what prevents me from sending it to him in its entirety. Case in point is the bonus for the super rich and a quadrillion dollars in securities trading. Admittedly, the quadrillion figure was world wide, whereas the US was only about $2oo trillion. See the dubious claim now? The author suggests a tiny tax could "pay off the deficit." By taxing the entire world's security trading, not just America's. What would happen to securities trading with America if even a one-hundreth of one percent tax was imposed on exchanges within our borders? A classic be careful what you wish for.



Americans being "fudged" upon

Americans being "fudged" upon by the rich is a polite way to put it. To rephrase Marie Antoinette, "Let them eat fudge."

Or in November terms; LET

Or in November terms; LET THEM EAT TWINKIES

While so many commenters are

While so many commenters are "doom and gloom" about this topic, I view it as enlightening. How long has this been going on? Since Reagan was Pres...yet we didn't really start hearing much about this phenomenon until the Occupy Movement. The very fact that this op ed was written and published is evidence that the American public is waking up! The momentum is building. Join it instead of just bitching about it. We are smart and creative people. Look at the occupy approach to buying debt and forgiving it. CLASSIC..use the system against itself.
These and other initiatives will - over time - produce great change. I think it is just the beginning of the next great American progressive movement. Check out our history - you may agree.

Since Reagan yes. Since the

Since Reagan yes. Since the collapse in 2008 it seems to have compounded itself. In 2008 there were $62 trillion in derivatives and now a quadrillion. Wish I could compound like that.

The American public has a lot of waking up to do to grasp the impact of this article. But it is waking up. Even the GOP has an occupy movement according to Hayley Barbor who said they need a proctologist, and Michael Steele who said they need to get their heads out...

There is plenty of collusion going on with the US FED and Euro Banks. They want austerity and payback which is a cover for the crimes that are going on that need to be regulated and taxed.

I can't get my mind around how the 1% want the 99% to make less, and own less, but if they knew more, earned more and owned more the 1% would be making a greater profit. Stupid me. It's Greed, isn't it?

A very good point. TO all of

A very good point. TO all of us:

OWN the problem. Discuss it with the others you know. Advocate past the whine and on to FIXING the problem.

I think you meant to say OWN

I think you meant to say OWN the SOLUTION!

The longer we sit idle to the

The longer we sit idle to the injustices of our society, the longer we will continue to deceive ourselves that the American Dream exists. A country is a s big as it's dreams are, and right now many are living a nightmare.

President Obama has now been

President Obama has now been re-elected to s second term. This article states that corporate tax rates dropped dramatically in 2008. We know who was elected in 2008. Republican intransigence clearly had a great deal to do with the failure to rectify this situation. But there can be no doubt that Obama as well missed clear opportunities to forcefully bring the debate to the American people. He insists, this time, will be different. The man was a professor at a prestigious university at one time."Teaching" should come easily to him. He should, as he has implied, use the "bully pulpit" Presidents have at their disposal, and carefully elucidate the American public as to the "true" nature of tax revenue collection in this country...much as this article does in a short amount of reading time. Charts, graphs, power point,etc...should be included in all cases of appropriateness. Has the President done this yet? The answer is no. Should he in the very near future? If he is sincere in his willingness to confront the problem conscientiously, then the answer must be an emphatic yes! Compromises concerning the uber-wealthy simply can't be tolerated at this juncture.

Obama was elected in 2008,

Obama was elected in 2008, but did not take office until January 2009. W. was still in office in 2008.

This list could be

This list could be ridiculously longer... like comparing the rate of CEO and executive pay with minimum wage increase and mass firings, just for one.

Unfortunately the corporate

Unfortunately the corporate media won't allow these numbers to become widely known by the general public. And our public "servants" behave as if this reality doesn't exist. It's all very convenient for those that profit from the status quo.

It is actually much worse

It is actually much worse that this article states.

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