We kid you not

April 11, 2010

A tidal wave of wealth

"Australia's top executives have seen their collective wealth swell by almost three-quarters — or about $15 billion — over the past year, easily outstripping gains by ordinary investors.

"The total wealth of Australia's top 200 business chieftains ballooned to $35 billion in 2010, up from $20.3 billion in 2009, according to the BRW 2010 Executive Rich List ...

"The combined wealth of Australian executives was 72 per cent higher than last year ..."

— March 24 Sydney Morning Herald.

Rich's income share greatest since 1920s

³A 30-year trend of rising inequality has continued with the rich boosting their share of Australian income significantly over the past five years, according to new research.

"An analysis by Australian National University economist Andrew Leigh and Oxford University's Tony Atkinson shows the richest 1 per cent of taxpayers — those earning more than $197,000 — accounted for 9.8 per cent of all income in 2007-08.

"That was up from an 8.8 per cent share of the nation's income which went to the richest 1 per cent five years earlier in 2002-03. It took the top 1 per cent of taxpayers' share of all income to its highest level since the 1950s.

"The analysis shows the 'super rich' — the top 0.1 per cent of taxpayers — increased their share of total income to its highest level since the 1920s during 2007-08.

"These taxpayers, nearly 15,000 people with incomes of more than $693,000, earned 3.6 per cent of all taxable income in 2007-08 ...

"Professor Leigh said the pay packets of CEOs at Australia's top 100 companies had increased twice as fast as those of ordinary workers between 1993 and 2009."

— April 8 SMH,

Half a million housholds can't pay bills

"Researchers from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research say they are "unsettled" by new findings that reveal more than half of the 14.4 per cent of [Victorian] households who consider themselves to be financially stressed are employed ...

"This report found more than 580,000 Australian households were suffering from mortgage stress and did not have enough money to pay for their living expenses and make mortgage repayments.

"Of these families, about one in three is in 'severe' financial stress and in danger of losing their home."

March 20 Herald Sun

Bloodsucking capitalists

"[Wall Street investment firm] Cerberus Capital ... recently made a [US]$1.8 billion killing on their human plasma investment, a company called Talecris, which they bought for a mere $82.5 million just four years earlier ...

"They did it ... by paying peanuts to their impoverished human plasma donors, who increasingly come from Mexican border towns to blood-pumping stations set up on the American side, jacking up the price of plasma by restricting supply ... and then selling the refined products to the most desperately ill, patients suffering from hemophilia, severe burns, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune deficiencies.

"The products cost so much — one, IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) cost twice the price of gold as of last summer — that American health insurance companies have been dropping or denying their policy holders in increasing numbers, endangering untold numbers ...

"Despite all the billions that Wall Street's vampires earn from plasma, the hapless humans whose veins they milk make barely a pittance — [US] $30 or so for spending an hour hooked up to a pumping machine that sucks the blood, sifts out the valuable plasma through a cold filtering process, and reverse-pumps the debased, icy blood back into the plasma donor's veins.

"It's such a miserable way to make cash that Cerberus and its fellow oligopolists have resorted to setting up plasma-sucking franchises along the US-Mexico border, which have mushroomed like Starbucks' once did in the '90s."

— January 9, Alternet.org.

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