Must-watch video charting income inequality in America

A nice basic video that easily demonstrates income inequality in America.

The guy who did the video notes that 1% of Americans have 40% of the wealth. And teh bottom 80% have 7% of the nation’s wealth.

He also raises a point about CEO pay:

“Do you really believe that the CEO is working 380x harder than his average employee?”

He has one very neat chart showing what portion of the total national wealth is actually owned by each group, what portion Americans think each group actually has, and what portion Americans think would be fair.

income-distribution-in-america-chart

There is one point I’d like to hear more about.  I’m less concerned how rich the rich are than I am how rich the rest of us are.  Meaning, let’s pretend country X is really really rich, much richer than the US.  The super-rich may control 40% of the wealth, but the rest of us might be doing awfully well too because the country is simply so rich overall.  In that case, it doesn’t really matter if the super-rich control half the country’s wealth so long as the middle class is still doing really well too.  In other words, a bigger overall pie equals bigger slices of the pie – and even if your slice is relatively small compared to the rest of the huge piece, the pie could be so big that your slice still amounts to a lot.

Having said that, America isn’t so rich that the rest of us are doing great, especially the last four years.  And we won’t be doing great as retirement approaches for us baby boomers, a lot of whom don’t have the cushy retirement plans that our parents have.  And, there’s an argument to be made that the super-rich are skewing the system in a way that harms the rest of us, prevents us from accumulating further relative wealthy, and actually destroys our wealth (such as what happened over the last four years).  And if they weren’t super-rich (and thus politically powerful) they wouldn’t be able to do this nearly as well.

I guess my point is, I’m less concerned about how rich the rich are than about how well the rest of us are doing, and what kind of opportunities there are for everyone else to do better economically.  And also, an explanation of “so what?” – meaning, so what if the rich are rich, how does their being rich affect the rest of us?  How is it keeping the rest of us poor?  That’s the salient argument, otherwise you risk simply sounding jealous, or dare I say, “socialist” :)  Meaning, you simply think people should all have the same wealth, period.

I’d love to see a video like this, that spells out the issue so clearly and simply, address those points as well.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • Anonymous

    It was less polarized then.

  • Anonymous

    But wealth inequality is more important to address.

  • Alan

    Actually, the video is about wealthy inequality, not income inequality. They’re very different things. You can have low income and great wealth, and vice versa. Income inequality isn’t as severe and is easier to address.

  • Naja pallida

    The picture in the UK not that far off from what it is in the US. Bottom 10% are barely over a single percent of the overall wealth. Top 10% have more wealth than all the lower income brackets combined. The only difference is that they have a much more broad middle-class, which has been steadily shrinking over the last 30 years.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Ah. Thanks.

  • Cletus

    Many will still not see this as a problem, but what if you substituted oxygen for wealth? Forty percent of the population would be taking their last gasps right about now.

  • hollywoodstein

    And cheap. Or free. Look into it.

  • hollywoodstein

    Then why do it yourself?

  • hollywoodstein

    at all

  • hollywoodstein

    not.

  • hollywoodstein

    I’m not.

  • hollywoodstein

    Actually, I’m not crazy. I’m not.
    I’m trying to help the blog by increasing the amount of Disqus comments, and also trying to spur commenting on under commented posts.
    also too,
    I use the self reply as a rhetorical device and for comedic call back. Not everyone gets it, and not every joke is gotten, but I get that.
    It’s an acquired taste.
    But all is meant in good humor.

  • hollywoodstein

    maybe you should read his book.

  • hollywoodstein

    Some of your best work, nicho.

  • hollywoodstein

    Every day.

  • hollywoodstein

    I’m not crazy, I tell my therapist.

  • hollywoodstein

    Actually, I am not crazy. It is merely a conceit used for comedic effect.

  • hollywoodstein

    Eight, I count at least eight, my therapist four. Go figure.

  • hollywoodstein

    Hey, the NYT ran a story w/o crediting the blog….!

  • hollywoodstein

    Can anyone help me on how to see my likey no likey people on Disqus? I am updating my stupid enemies list.

  • hollywoodstein

    Wow, Four downvotes for making your own tailor made content. How stupid. It is a natural progression for messaging. I understand pavlonian support for our fearless leader, but really the best thing for everyone would be manufacturing our own content.

  • rerutled

    I am definitely no John Rawls. Like, it would’ve killed Rawls to give us a theory for how to determine a distribution of wealth that we could actually use. THANKS OBAMA.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The tea party – white, Southern, middle class – professionals, small business owners, etc – is dead. It did initially attract a wider class basis but it’s decline into a party engaged in a spitting contest with the other two rightwing parties, Democrats and Republicans, and it’s lack of success have pushed them over the cliff.

    We’ll see if they can climb back up. Their ever more open racist appeal may get them some lumpen elements but by and large they are a middle class party.

    Ironically, this comes at a time when they’re programmatically most successful. Obama and the Republicans, including the Tea Party are on the verge of imposing draconian new austerity measures aimed at retired workers and anyone dependent on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

  • Sweetie

    “I’m less concerned how rich the rich are than I am how rich the rest of us are.”

    This is doublespeak. There is one pie. How rich the rich are and how rich the rest of us are are inseparable.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Quick question, my friend: Why are there two of you lately? It seems like you’ve been having conversations with yourself these last few days. Just curious. :-)

  • nicho

    I knew John Rawls. We weren’t exactly friends, but you’re no John Rawls.

  • nicho

    Much much more even. Now, if you go back to the days of the robber barons, it was bad too.

  • Greta

    What was the income distribution in the U.S. back in the 1950′s and the 1960′s?

  • hollywoodstein

    MHWS is not offering to crank up Avid for this. Neither is she declining.

  • hollywoodstein

    Think about it. Of course, there are people from Rhythm and Hues who would do it cheap. But there are also people who would do it free.

  • hollywoodstein

    .
    .

  • hollywoodstein

    be fair, too.

  • hollywoodstein

    Otherwise, be kind, works for me.

  • hollywoodstein

    The veil of ignorance is a good construct for selfish people, and most people are selfish.

  • hollywoodstein

    You deserved it. I tip my hat.

  • hollywoodstein

    No prob.

  • hollywoodstein

    Hint, hint.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Thanks.

  • hollywoodstein

    Make your own content.

  • hollywoodstein

    See.

  • hollywoodstein

    If you like it so much why don’t you make it yourself?

  • hollywoodstein

    I’d like to have a round of applause for BeccaM for sharing.

  • hollywoodstein

    Hey, isn’t this one of those blogs that complains when credit isn’t given where credit is due?

  • hollywoodstein

    Nice catch BeccaM!

  • hollywoodstein

    Oh dear, bourbon.

  • Indigo

    Oops the spelling.

  • Indigo

    “The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald quipped.

    “They have more money!” Earnest Hemingway quipped back.

  • rerutled

    Other than the Rawlsian Theory of Justice, and Hobbes Labor theory of value (which is what got us here), I know of no philosophical standpoint that suggests what the distribution of wealth should be. What’s wrong about that? Only that, without a philosophic ground, this is no more than complaint. While I don’t disagree with people’s right to complain, it wins no political wars. We need an economic theory which can, from a practical standpoint, describe what the distribution of wealth should be, and it needs to be understandable enough that voters can see the logic in it, adopt it, and demand it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eve.condon Eve Wartenberg Condon

    This is a wonderful video, but I despair that it can really accomplish anything besides preach to the choir. It listed “Mother Jones” and “ThinkProgress.org” as sources–anyone with conservative leanings would reject both of those outright. The people whose minds need changing exist in a different reality, one in which deregulation and tax breaks create jobs and fighting over the debt ceiling is business as usual. I don’t think they’d give this any credence.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Actually that’s a good point.

  • Naja pallida

    The only other thing I’d like to see added is charts of other countries for comparison.

  • AlGORemmk

    Because they recognize that theft is wrong, whether perpetrated by government or not.

  • nicho

    And many of the people at the lowest end will go to the barricades — teabags dangling from their hats — to defend this arrangement.

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