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Wealth report shows deepening social polarization in US

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Cross-posted from WSWS

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A new report from the US Federal Reserve Board finds that total US net worth has risen to a record $81.8 trillion, up $1.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2014 and up nearly $13 trillion compared to the previous peak, before the 2008 financial crash.

This figure belies the incessant claims by the US political and financial elite that there is "no money" to pay for basic social necessities -- from jobs and decent wages to schools and other public services. There are ample resources -- more than at any time in history -- but these resources are monopolized by the narrow layer of ultra-wealthy individuals at the top of American society.

If the $81.8 trillion were divided equally among the 318 million people who live in the United States, there would be just over $250,000 for every man, woman and child. Poverty would be virtually abolished at a stroke. Hunger, homelessness and other forms of social deprivation would be dealt a death-blow.

But under capitalism, a social order based on profit and the accumulation of vast private wealth, such an equal division of society's resources is unthinkable. Instead, America in 2014 is a spectacle of ever-increasing riches at the top and steadily worsening conditions of life for the majority of the population.

Total national wealth increased by $1.49 trillion during the first three months of 2014, despite the fact that the US economy actually contracted, with total output declining by 1 percent, and more than a million people dropped out of the labor force and stopped looking for work because they had no hope of finding a job.

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (, a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).

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