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 | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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