(COMMON DREAMS) Lauren McCauley, December 1, 2015 — The divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the United States has never been so vast, with a new report out Tuesday revealing that the nation’s 20 richest individuals own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the population.
What’s more, with a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the richest 400 Americans—who include Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune—own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country, or 194 million people.
“America’s skewed wealth is one of the most critical issues of our time,” stated Chuck Collins, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and co-author of the report Billionaire Bonanza: the Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us (pdf).
What’s more, the study compares the Forbes list with other segments of the population, showing great disparity in how this wealth is distributed. For example, the combined net worth of the Forbes 400 roughly equals the wealth of the entire African American population, plus a third of the Latino population.