Monday, July 10, 2017

Chuck Collins: What Happened to America’s Wealth? The Rich Hid It

This vital piece is by Chuck Collins, whose work I highly respect and who I share many synchronicities with, including growing up swimming in the same lake in Michigan. Chuck also grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, which is where several of my family members lived. And Chuck inherited a fortune at age 21. At age 26, he gave it away. Chuck speaks of climbing the empathy wall, something I hold a deep prayer that more and more of us will courageously grow to embrace. Along with a passionate commitment to justice, truth, and working together to create a world which will increasingly work for all. - Molly

 By Chuck Collins 
If you find yourself traveling this summer, take a closer look at America’s deteriorating infrastructure — our crumbling roads, sidewalks, public parks, and train and bus stations.
Government officials will tell us “there’s no money” to repair or properly maintain our tired infrastructure. Nor do we want to raise taxes, they say.
But what if billions of dollars in tax revenue have gone missing?
New research suggests that the super-rich are hiding their money at alarming rates. A study by economists Annette Alstadsaeter, Niels Johannesen, and Gabriel Zucman reports that households with wealth over $40 million evade 25 to 30 percent of personal income and wealth taxes.
These stunning numbers have two troubling implications.
First, we’re missing billions in taxes each year. That’s partly why our roads and transit systems are falling apart.
Second, wealth inequality may be even worse than we thought. Economic surveys estimate that roughly 85 percent of income and wealth gains in the last decade have gone to the wealthiest one-tenth of the top 1 percent.
That’s bad enough. But what if the concentration is even greater?
Visualize the nation’s wealth as an expansive and deep reservoir of fresh water. A small portion of this water provides sustenance to fields and villages downstream, in the form of tax dollars for public services.
In recent years, the water level has declined to a trickle, and the villages below are suffering from water shortages. Everyone is told to tighten their belts and make sacrifices.
Deep below the water surface, however, is a hidden pipe, siphoning vast amounts of water — as much as a third of the whole reservoir — off to a secret pool in the forest.
The rich are swimming while the villagers go thirsty and the fields dry up.
Yes, there are vast pools of privately owned wealth, mostly held by a small segment of super-rich Americans. The wealthiest 400 billionaires have at least as much wealth as 62 percent of the U.S. population — that’s nearly 200 million of us.

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