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The Growing Division Between the Rich and the Poor Leading to Increasingly Severe Human Rights Issues in the United States

CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-07-15 07:15
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US Army Golden Knights paratroopers land on the Ellipse with a US national flag during Independence Day celebrations in Washington, US, July 4, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Editor's Note: In an article published on Tuesday, the China Society for Human Rights Studies laid bare the harsh reality of the serious division between the rich and the poor in the United States under the cover of its overall prosperity. Following is the full text:

Although the United States claims to be the greatest power in the world, it fails to make all its citizens live comfortably. Under the cover of overall prosperity in the United States, the harsh reality is the serious division between the rich and the poor in the country. In his report on his visit to the US, which was released in May 2018, Philip Alston, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, pointed out that the United States has the widest gap between the rich and the poor among all Western countries. According to the report, about 40 million US citizens live in poverty, and among them, 18.5 million live in extreme poverty. More than 5 million US citizens live in a state comparable to that of the absolutely poor in the third world. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the US government's ineffective anti-pandemic efforts have led the American people into grave human rights disasters, which have further highlighted and exacerbated the existing social and economic inequality within US society.

Part 1 Basic Trends Reflecting the Continuously Widening Division Between the Rich and the Poor in the United States

The United States has a high level of income polarization. The survey results released by the Pew Research Center on July 12, 2018, show that the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has expanded significantly since the 1970s. According to the data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Gini coefficient for the United States reached 0.482 in May 2019, far exceeding the internationally recognized "warning line" of 0.4. The research data published by the World Socialist Web Site in December 2016 show that in 2014, the per-capita annual income of low-income US citizens, who accounted for 50 percent of the US population, was US$16,200, which was almost flat compared with the number in the 1980s, but the per-capita annual income of the top 1 percent high-income US citizens increased threefold over the same period. The research data also show that in 2014, the per-capita annual income of the high-income group equaled an ordinary worker's lifetime income. The Business Insider website disclosed on August 15, 2016, that after deducting price factors, from 1978 to 2015, the salaries of the CEOs of the 350 largest companies in the United States increased by about 940 percent, while the salaries of ordinary workers increased by only 10 percent. The website of Boston Review reported on September 1, 2017, that in the recent 40 years, the income of the low-and middle-income groups, which accounted for about 80 percent of the US population, had increased by only about 25 percent, while the income of the high-income group, which accounted for about 20 percent of the US population, had almost doubled. As reported by the Business Insider website in January 2017, Torsten Slok, Chief International Economist of Deutsche Bank, found out that the wealth of the top 0.1 percent US households equaled the wealth of the bottom 90 percent of the US households when calculating the wealth of US households based on income levels.

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