One of the dominating justifications that the right uses for its economic policies is that lowering taxes and regulations on society’s wealthiest members and big businesses will cause an explosion of wealth that will eventually “trickle down” to the vast majority of Americans. Yet while a record number of Americans are receiving some form of government assistance as unemployment remains high and the economy is in shambles, one group is doing very well: corporate America. The 2011 Fortune 500 list was unveiled today, surveying the growth and profits of the nation’s largest 500 corporations. It found that the profits of these companies “soared 81” percent over the past year, causing the editors of Fortune to say that “we’ve rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans”:
All told, the Fortune 500 generated nearly $10.8 trillion in total revenues last year, up 10.5%. Total profits soared 81%. But guess who didn’t benefit much from this giant wave of cash? Millions of U.S. workers stuck mired in a stagnant job market. […] Nevertheless, we’ve rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans.
At the same time, corporate tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is lower than it has been in years, meaning that not only is the wealth not trickling down, but that these big firms are also becoming less and less likely to pay their fair share.