Related Information

The Distribution of Wealth

From Wikipedia:

A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. The bottom half of the world adult population owned 1% of global wealth. Moreover, another study found that the richest 2% own more than half of global household assets.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and 2007 incomes of the top 1% of Americans grew by an average of 275%. During the same time period, the 60% of Americans in the middle of the income scale saw their income rise by 40%. Since 1979 the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90% of households has decreased by $900, while that of the top 1% increased by over $700,000, as federal taxation became less progressive.

From 1992-2007 the top 400 income earners in the U.S. saw their income increase 392% and their average tax rate reduced by 37%. In 2009, the average income of the top 1% was $960,000 with a minimum income of $343,927. In 2007 the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country's total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%. Financial inequality was greater than inequality in total wealth, with the top 1% of the population owning 42.7%, the next 19% of Americans owning 50.3%, and the bottom 80% owning 7%. However, after the Great Recession which started in 2007, the share of total wealth owned by the top 1% of the population grew from 34.6% to 37.1%, and that owned by the top 20% of Americans grew from 85% to 87.7%. The Great Recession also caused a drop of 36.1% in median household wealth but a drop of only 11.1% for the top 1%, further widening the gap between the 1% and the 99%. During the economic expansion between 2002 and 2007, the income of the top 1% grew 10 times faster than the income of the bottom 90%. In this period 66% of total income gains went to the 1%, who in 2007 had a larger share of total income than at any time since 1928.

The Illegal Drug Market

From Wikipedia:

(2009 - economics - value of global opiate market)

"At retail level, the total value of the heroin market is substantial at an estimated US$55 billion. The size of the annual opium market is a more Œmodest¹ US$7-10 billion. Consequently, the combined total opiates (heroin/opium) market could be worth up to US$65 billion per year. This amount is higher than the GDPs of many countries. In economic terms, nearly half of the overall opiate market value is accounted for by Europe (some US$20 billion) and the Russian Federation (US$13 billion). Other lucrative markets include China (US$9 billion) and the United States and Canada (US$8 billion)."


(2008 - economics - expenditure on drug war in North America over 40 years)

"Despite more than an estimated $2.5 trillion having been spent on the ³war on drugs² in North America during the last 40 years, cannabis is as readily available today as at any time in our history."

Source: "Breaking the Silence: Cannabis prohibition, organized crime and gang violence in British Columbia," Stop the Violence BC Coalition (Vancouver, British Columbia: October 2011), p. 1.


PBS - Frontline

Drug users in the U.S. spend approximately $60 billion dollars a year, according to U.S. government estimates. ­and ­ What keeps the drug industry going is its huge profit margins. Producing drugs is a very cheap process. Like any commodities business the closer you are to the source the cheaper the product. Processed cocaine is available in Colombia for $1500 dollars per kilo and sold on the streets of America for as much as $66,000 a kilo (retail). Heroin costs $2,600/kilo in Pakistan, but can be sold on the streets of America for $130,000/kilo (retail). And synthetics like methamphetamine are often even cheaper to manufacture costing approximately $300 to $500 per kilo to produce in clandestine labs in the US and abroad and sold on US streets for up to $60,000/kilo (retail).


From Wikipedia:

The cost of crime committed to support illegal cocaine and heroin habits amounts to £16 billion a year in the UK.

In its 1997 World Drugs Report the UNODC estimated the value of the market at US$400 billion, ranking drugs alongside arms and oil amongst the world's largest traded goods.

Despite over $7 billion spent annually towards arresting and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005 (FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally-funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana ³easy to obtain.² That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys. In 2007, 93% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This amounts to an export value of about $64 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords and drug traffickers.

In Europe (except the transit countries Portugal and the Netherlands), for example, a purported gram of street heroin, usually consisting of 700­800 mg of a light to dark brown powder containing 5-10% heroin base, costs between 30 and 70 euros, making the effective value per gram of pure heroin between 300 and 700 euros.


Recommended Documentaries

The documentaries listed below can all be streamed on demand from NetFlix, as can many TED Talks worth watching. The best source I have found for daily news in video format is Al Jazeera English (www.aljazeera.com/watch_now/). Noteworthy documentaries can also be found on CurrentTV (a satellite/cable channel.)

Obama's Deal
GasHole
The Corporation
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Food Matters
Goldman Sachs: Power and Peril
The Listening Project
Declining by Degrees: Higher Ed at Risk
Frontline: Black Money
Revenge of the Electric Car
American Experience: Earth Days
Frontline: Heat
Cool It
Thirst
Frontline: Poisoned Waters
The Future of Food
Frontline: Revolution in Cairo
American Drug War: The Last White Hope
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash
Civilian Conservation Corps
Ken Burns' America: The Congress
Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man

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