Days after the one year anniversary of the first Occupy Wall Street protests, Forbes Magazine released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans. The richest 400 saw their net worth climb 13 percent from August 2011 to August 2012 topping $1.7 trillion.
At first glance, it’s little more than an entertaining peek over the fence. Many of the usual business leaders appear on the list: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the Koch brothers, and the Waltons hug the top. Poor Mark Zuckerberg, often touted as the country’s youngest billionaire, saw his net worth drop to $9.3 billion after Facebook’s stock value fell.
But the more important question: how is the rest of America doing? The answer is not so entertaining.
Hourly wages, according to a Christian Science Monitor article, have remained flat. One in five mortgage holders are “upside down,” owing more money than their property is worth. And household income is somewhere around 1990 levels.
The very richest Americans, in contrast, have seen rapid gains in their wealth over the last decade. Though many of the Forbes titans are extremely generous, gifting billions to charities, that doesn’t compensate for what average Americans are experiencing after years of trickle-down economics.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November, the country’s next president may soon discover that the threat to our security is not whatever is erupting overseas.
The instability is right here at home.