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Did you notice in my last post that the income gap between rich and poor—or actually rich and everyone else—is at its highest point since the ominous year of 1928?

Yes, indeed. Total reported income in the United States increased by 9 percent in 2005, but average incomes for all but the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans were down by .6 percent.

So who got more money? Why, the top 1 percent, of course. Their incomes rose by 14 percent to an average of more than $1.1 million per household. Sweet! The top 10 percent—those who make more than $100,000—also lived off the fat of the rest of us. Nicely done, lads!

The New York Times reports:

[T]he top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

That sounds seriously messed up, right? Well, yeah, but it’s probably even worse for two reasons. First, the wealthiest Americans are the most likely to file late, so the data may be slightly skewed. Second—and this is my favorite—the IRS claims to “find” 99 percent of all wage income but only about 70 percent of business and investment income.

Maybe if they stopped wasting their time auditing the poor and starting auditing the rich—you know, the ones with big bucks to hide and tax advisors to tell them how to do it—they might find the untold billions of unpaid taxes on the 30 percent all profits and capital gains.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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