Cross-posted from WSWS
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.