The fleecing class had quite a year. Despite providing little to no valuable goods or services Wall Street has once again siphoned off a huge share of America’s wealth for itself. While Americans foolishly dreamed of a time gone by where opportunity existed for the non-rich as well as the rich, Wall Street broke into their bedrooms and stole their wallets.

New York’s state comptroller says Wall Street cash bonuses for 2012 are expected to rise 8 percent to $20 billion, partly driven by deferred payments from prior years…

The industry reports profits for broker/dealer operations of some 200 New York Stock Exchange members, the traditional measure of profitability for the securities industry, totaled nearly $24 billion last year, triple their 2011 earnings…

The average salary, including bonuses, rose slightly to almost $362,900 in 2011.

Funds that could have been used to promote business activity, growth, and jobs will instead be channeled into drugs, prostitution, and the other tropes of the Wall Street lifestyle. The plutonomy will roll on. 

But as for the remaining overwhelming majority of Americans, the decline continues. According to a new paper by economist Emmanuel Saez the 1% have snatched almost all the gains while the bottom 99% have actually lost even more of their wealth.

The top 1% has captured all of the income gains since 2009 and then some, roaring ahead while the rest of the population slipped behind. A new paper by Emmanuel Saez (along with his frequent co-author Thomas Piketty, a long-standing cataloguer of income inequality) estimates that the income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%.

It is bad enough to have such inequality in a society. Inequality degrades society by creating distrust and stress among the population with all the resulting pathologies. But to have many of those at the top producing no real value is truly unacceptable.

Photo by National Archives and Records Administration under Public Domain