The top 10% of America's households (families) control 83% of America's wealth.
This data was for 2007, after the bailouts and handouts to the "too big to fails", I'm sure that concentration of wealth has increased.
Click the image above, or click here: Who Rules America? to visit the website of Professor G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz. Biography here.
Professor Domhoff theorized in his 1967 book "Who Rules America?" that the United States is ruled by a power elite. That power elite is comprised of the owners and manager of corporations, large property owners, agribusinesses and banks. Professor Domhoff makes the argument that these individuals make for a governing and ruling class that dominate the federal government, and by extension, state and local governments.
Professor Domhoff doesn't make wild accusations or speculations in his work, but provides empirical evidence to back up his claims.
Those of us who work every single day and pay attention to our society and governments every day have watched the shifting of power to a more centralized model. This shift of power has crept into every facet of our lives, and any attempt at innovation, individual thought, and individual action is systematically being stamped out or co-opted.
We understand socialism and oligarchies.
Our indignation at being treated as strictly sources for labor and wealth has lead to a small scale rebellion called the Tea Party. When it became patently obvious it wasn't going away even with the name calling, false claims of "racism", and threats of labeling participants "terrorists", every attempt is being made to co-opt it.
I understand that decrying the centralization of wealth sounds vaguely "communist" in a strictly Marxist interpretation of my comments. It is anything but.
This nation was founded on, among other principles, that all men are created equal. Much has been said about what the Founding Fathers meant when they said "men". Some have said they meant only "males", others "white males" but I think they spoke of the race of Man.
All of Mankind.
These people were visionaries, and thought beyond the pettiness of their day. I think they knew what they strove for was within the hearts of all men, no matter their race or creed.
I think they hoped that Freedom would be extended to all of Mankind once it had fertile ground on which to establish itself, unfettered, inviolate by the constraints of those who feared for their own privileged positions.
I think they had a faith in a Creator, and faith in those who would follow them in time. Faith that their words would be understood for what they were.
Plain. Simple. Easily understood. Not given to the foppery of the European great houses of the day, or the grandiloquence of the pronouncements of those houses.
Even today, as atrocious as our public schools have become, a well educated twelve year old can tell you what is meant by the Declaration Of Independence and The Bill of Rights. No law degree needed.
Man being created equal means that others do not have the right or privilege to deprive their fellow citizens of their own rights. The ability to travel freely. To speak freely. To petition for redress of grievances. To deny anyone the due process of law.
They also can not deny anyone the right to work, to build or establish a concern or company. They don't have the right to claim rights for a legal fiction called a corporation, and they do not have the right to convey the right of personhood on that legal fiction.
They do not have the right to shut you out from creating, and building your own wealth. Yet, that is what they do every single day.
Our own sense of sanctity for the Constitution and Bill of Rights has often been our own undoing. We've failed to protect what is our birthright because we so valued the concepts within, that we were unwilling to deny others the same protection, even as we knew they were using them for nefarious purposes.
Fortunately, The Founding Fathers built in a failsafe.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." - United States Declaration of Independence
Not by speeches and votes of the majority, are the great questions of the time decided, but by iron and blood. - Otto Von Bismark