Who wants to be a billionaire?

PUBLISHED: 12:54 05 January 2007 | UPDATED: 19:54 01 June 2010

LAST year, for the first time, all 400 of the super-rich individuals on Forbes list of the US s 400 richest people are billionaires. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is top, worth $53billion. The first Forbes list, published in 1982, contained 13 billionaire

LAST year, for the first time, all 400 of the super-rich individuals on Forbes' list of the US's 400 richest people are billionaires. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is top, worth $53billion.

The first Forbes list, published in 1982, contained 13 billionaires. Twenty-five years ago the richest Americans were subject to a top ('marginal') tax rate of 60 per cent.

Today, they keep much more of their wealth, as the effective top tax rate has been reduced to 35 per cent.

In contrast, over one-fifth of children in the US live in poverty (2000 data) even after government intervention. Poverty is defined as families with incomes below one-half of the median income.

The wealth gap is also growing. In 2004 the richest one per cent of wealth-holders had $14.8million or 190 times the wealth of the typical mid-range (middle fifth) household, who were worth $82,000 on average.

In 1962, the top one per cent of wealth-holders were 125 times richer than the middle.

In 2005, the average chief executive officer received $10,982,000 a year or 262 times the pay of the average (production or non-supervisory) worker.

The typical CEO got more in one workday (260 a year) than an average worker earns in 52 weeks.

George Bush and the Republicans have repeatedly blocked attempts to raise the federal minimum wage, stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997.

In 2005 the average CEO received 821 times a minimum wage earner, raking in more before Monday lunchtime than a low-paid worker earns in a year.

JOHN SMITHEE

Kingsley Avenue

Wisbech

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