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Are CEOs 300 times more valuable than their lowest-paid workers?

The dangers to such income inequality should be obvious, but Washington is a cool climate for populist politicians. We need someone who'll make it tough for Congress to coddle the rich.

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There’s something missing in the Washington political scene – a genuine populist, a prominent politician persistently pointing out a decades-long drift of income and wealth to a tiny fringe at the top.

Top 5 on Forbes rich list? Bill, Warren ... and Carlos!

Maybe this person should be organizing a peaceable march on the Washington Monument to draw attention to today’s extraordinary distortion in the American economy. After all, the concentration of wealth in the United States is more extreme than the much-observed build-up of wealth in Egypt that helped lead to the recent revolution.

Rich are richer, poor are poorer

Here are some facts:

• The richest 1 percent of Americans took 23.5 percent of all the country’s income in 2007. In 1976 they got only 8.9 percent. Gross domestic income was $14 trillion in 2007.

• The lowest fifth on the income ladder saw a decrease in income of 4.1 percent between 1979 and 2008. In the same period, the incomes of the top five percent increased 73 percent.

• The richest 1 percent of US households in 2007 owned 33.8 percent of the nation’s private wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent.

• The Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans own about as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent of American households.

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