Wal-Mart's Walton family now has 771,287 times more money than the median U.S. household. What gives?
The United States is now the third most unequal industrialized society after Russia and Mexico. This is not a club we want to be part of. Russia is a recovering kleptocracy, with a post-Soviet oligarchy enriched by looting. And Mexico, despite joining the rich-nations club of the Organization for Economic and Community Development, has some of the most glaring poverty in the hemisphere.
In 2004, after three years of economic recovery, the U.S. Census reports that poverty continues to grow, while the real median income for full-time workers has declined. Since 2001, when the economy hit bottom, the ranks of our nation's poor have grown by 4 million, and the number of people without health insurance has swelled by 4.6 million to over 45 million.
Income inequality is now near all-time highs, with over 50 percent of 2004 income going to the top fifth of households, and the biggest gains going to the top 5 percent and 1 percent of households. The average CEO now takes home a paycheck 431 times that of their average worker.