equality and brotherhood. Instead they choose to take as much of the nation's wealth as they can possibly get away with, even though other peoples' basic needs are not being met.

Even though most of us are richer than serfs of some other countries, we are still serfs within our own society.

The bottom 90% have been sold, and continue to be sold a severely distorted image of America through the media. The image of themselves as a huge middle class simply does not concur with reality.
To assist in the illusion, the bottom 90% have been encouraged to believe that doctors, dentists, engineers, etc., comprise the "upper class". Not surprisingly, working professionals have also been encouraged to think of themselves as the upper class. The fact of the matter is that these working professionals statistically fall into the bottom 90% of society. They may be, relatively speaking, upper class compared to the non-professionals, but in the overall wealth distribution picture, they are still "working class" when compared to the "real upper economic class". The average person who belongs to the bottom 90%, professional and non-professional alike, needn't blame himself or herself for missing the boat, because the economic elite of former generations used their power and influence to set up a complex system whereby just enough wealth is doled out using tax laws and tax shelters to produce just enough YUPPIES and comfortably off people (like many of our "so-called upper class" doctors, engineers, etc.,), to keep alive the totally erroneous notion that these individuals constitute the upper economic class.
The secret, completely understood by the elite, is that by providing a fairly comfortable living for the educated professional, they could completely remove the threat of widespread dissension, by appeasing the class of citizens most able to spearhead a movement to upset Feudal conditions. ...Throw the family dog a steak, and you can rob the house in peace.

Recognizing the Feudal Aspects of Capitalism

For the most part, the non-professional's income just meets the cost of a basic standard of living. Taxes, interest rates, wages, and the cost of living are all monitored and juggled very carefully so that government can tax away the bulk of income which exceeds the cost of living. Non-professionals who form the bulk of the bottom 90% are kept in check by the illusion that the upper class is in view, but just out of reach.
The shocking truth is that American society is based on a FEUDAL wealth distribution system, wherein the richest one percent are equivalent to the Feudal monarchs, the next nine percent are equivalent to the land owning aristocracy of Feudal times, and the bottom 90% are still being exploited as serfs to supply cheap labor so that the wealthy can exploit the nation's resources for their own personal benefit. What's worse is that the bottom 90% have been successfully and cunningly kept ignorant of that situation.
Anyone making less than $40,000 is relatively speaking one of the SYSTEM'S WORK HORSES.
Anyone on minimum wage is a SLAVE WITHOUT CHAINS.
Any family bread winner not purposely unemployed is a VICTIM.
So many aspects of modern Western society trace directly back to Feudal society, that an appreciation of our problems would be incomplete with briefly reviewing how and why Feudalism arose.

The Origins and Nature of Feudalism

From the dawn of time, the strongest animal or animals within an animal group have spearheaded the group's defense. Normally this service is acknowledged by the rest of the group's members, and rightly so.
But, while we can acknowledge indebtedness to our ancestors whose success at "dominating" made possible our survival as a species into the 21st century, it is important to keep in mind the distinction between "domination" and "leadership". By domination, I refer to the case where those in power abuse their power to exploit those with less power than themselves.
Even back in our cave dwelling days, the need to cooperate for survival sake probably kept domination within a group to a minimum. Cave dwelling leaders almost certainly acted to protect their family groups, and heads of family groups no doubt bonded together to defend whole communities. However, as the danger posed by other species gradually tapered off, the survival of the fittest quality of "domination" should have tapered off as well. Unfortunately, the trait persisted in the absence of predators.
Feudal monarchs provide an excellent example of this type of domination. They certainly assumed absolute authority for the defense of their empires. But as Lord Acton pointed out, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Somewhere along the way, the power and responsibilities of the role were abused to the extent that society's defenders took it on themselves to extend their dominance to include ownership of all communal assets.
From defenders, they became rulers who personally claimed all the communal property except that which they chose to give away to buy loyalty. In effect they dominated their subjects in much the same way as dictators do today. In order to maintain their position of dominance, the monarchs divided their kingdoms into feudal states and gave away large tracts of land within each of these areas to relatives and trusted friends to gain their loyalty and military support when needed.
To defend their new domains, these wealthy landowners assembled armies, and built fortified castles, over which they ruled like MINOR KINGS in their own right. Needless to say, the monarchs only gave away as much land and delegated authority to the degree they thought was necessary to ensure their own dominance.
In a similar way but to a lesser extent, the landed aristocracy had to do the same within their own castles to also ensure their continued domination over the subjects under their control. Throughout the country, the social order was based rigidly on class differences. Within the landowners' castle walls lived the landowners, their relatives, and their most valuable subjects. (the law enforcers, the merchants and the craftsmen) However, the landless peasants were forced to live outside the walls where they served as watchdogs in case of sneak attacks by the landlords' enemies.

Authority from the king allowed the aristocracy to exploit the serfs by putting them all to work and then taxing away the fruit of their labor. By making the landless peasants conform to a rigid pattern of subservience, the aristocracy could use them to perform any and every function that might enhance their own well-being, while only minimally meeting the serfs' basic needs. In other words, they used them in much the same way as their other beasts of burden. After taxes, many subjects like the peasant farmers, were left with only a minimum of food and provisions to carry on their lives of servitude. The horses and cows usually ended up with a greater share of the harvest than these poor clods. Dust unto dust seemed to more accurately describe their fate. So, if you belonged to the top 5 percent of feudal society, chances are you had gold pouring out of your ears. If you didn't, it was the equivalent of being dropped on your head at birth.
As the landed aristocracy grew stronger, the power of the monarchs diminished, but both the monarchs and the aristocracy continued to act as social parasites by taxing the serfs to the brink of poverty, thus keeping peasants basically powerless and subservient.

Eventually though, to avoid a revolt such as the French monarchs experienced, the ruling class had to introduce laws that appeared to recognize some rights of the peasants. But despite the introduction of democracy, the monarchs and aristocracy exerted their power and influence in parliament to have legislation passed that ensured their fortunes remained intact, which in turn kept most of their power intact.
Interestingly enough, there still seem to be quite a few class conscious, and very wealthy Kings and Queens hanging on, who are actually the direct descendants of the monarchs of feudal days, and who seem to have kept their fortunes relatively intact. Queens still reign in Britain, Denmark, and Holland, while Kings still reign in Belgium, Spain, Norway, and Sweden. Although most look on modern day monarchs as figureheads, their wealth and influence must not be underestimated. Queen Elizabeth is still the richest woman in the world. The South Africans and the Irish are both actively trying to cast off the burden of Feudal overlords.

From English Feudalism to American Feudalism

America on the other hand chose not a monarch but a President who can veto the will of a popularly elected Congress. Ironically or not, George Bush is nevertheless the 13th cousin (twice removed) of Queen Elizabeth.
In Western society today, billionaire power wielders determine both the domestic and foreign policies, but they do so from behind the scenes, and of course like the kings before them, they feel justified in claiming as much of the communal wealth as they wish. As far as the economic elite are concerned, national wealth is not treated as communal wealth.
Many are the descendants of the great landowners of old, and of the super wealthy merchant class. The distinction between these two groups has largely disappeared, and we seem to be left with a hybrid group which embraces international commerce, while holding vast fortunes in real estate.