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Wealth is being concentrated



Published: Fri, April 9, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Wealth is being concentrated

In the 1880s there were 70 peo- ple in our country with a total of $2.7 billion, or about $37.5 million each; 30 others were worth upwards of $30 million each; 25,000 people owned about half the national wealth.

It was suggested at the time (1889) that if the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few continued, the United States of America would “be substantially owned by less than 50,000 persons” within 30 years (Thomas G. Sherman, Forum, November 1889).

In the second decade of the 20th century, President Taft was aware of the problem of the concentration of wealth and tried his best to curtail the rise of monopolies. He did some good, but in 10 years or so, the Great Depression of 1929 devastated America.

It is interesting to read of the profits of Wall Street kings in 1880. Vanderbilt made $30 million; J. Gould, $15 million; Russell Sage and Sidney Dillon, $10 million; James R. Keene, $8 million and several others made a million or two each, making a grand total for 10 or 12 estates of about $80 million (”Our Country”, Dr. Josiah Strong, p. 103). In 1880, 12 men, speculators in Wall Street, received a greater sum than 182,000 laborers in the manufacturing establishments of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island by some $10 million and nearly half as much as 527,533 laborers in like establishments in the whole state of New York (”Our Country”, p. 103).

Now compare those figures with some recent confessions. Incomes of some citizens are now in the billions of dollars. Is it any wonder that a second great depression descended on America?

Cities are not immune to the virus of concentrated wealth; they are struggling financially, and citizens will pay the price.

How many persons or countries now own America?

Robert E. Hopkins, Hubbard


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