The Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil — rather, it condemns the love of money.
Today, that insidious love (taking the form of greed and excess) is celebrated in our country and has even become exalted in official public policy, marring our economy with inequality and injustice. The reigning ethos of our nation's upper crust is that too much is not enough. They're not merely out to make loads of the money they love, but to make a killing, everyone else be damned.
New numbers from the Congressional Budget Office confirm that as the moneyed elites have been making their killing, wealth disparity has become extreme in a country that once prided itself on trying to build a more egalitarian society. Analyzing 30 years of income data, the non-partisan CBO reports that the richest 1 percent of our population has enjoyed a stunning 275-percent increase in their income during that time.
As a result, these privileged few have more than doubled the slice of America's income pie that they consume, going from 8 percent to 17 percent of the whole in just three decades.
From whom did these richest 1-percenters get their extra-big slice? From us, the 99 percent.
The share going to middle class and poor families shrank in this period, which is why there is such broad support today for Occupy Wall Street's "We are the 99%" movement.
At the tippy-top of America's wealth pyramid are the multimillionaire CEOs and billionaire Wall Streeters. They are the richest 0.01 percent of the 1-percenters (a mere 14,836 households). These few now take 6 percent of all U.S. income — the biggest piece ever consumed by America's megarich.
The widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us is transforming our country from a society to a jungle — and not even billionaires will enjoy living there.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.