Thursday, September 23, 2010

One For You, One For Me. Two For you, One, Two For Me.

If you're like most folks, and most folks are, you are currently among 80% of the the American people who are working their keister off to claim an ever shrinking portion of America's wealth. As it stands now, the bottom 80% of Americans, incomewise, share 16% of America's wealth.

That is a historic low.

Here's the latest study on the matter --> Here

That means that the top 20% of Americans, incomewise, share 86% of America's wealth.

That's a historic high.

Even more disturbing, the top 1% of Americans, incomewise, share about 50% of America's wealth.

Though, it should be noted that the top 1% of old ladies control about 90% of America's cats.

But you can't buy much with cats.

I've tried.

So I'm happy with the distribution of cats in America. Not so happy with the distribution of money.

Let's take a look at this wealth disparity in handy chart format, shall we?

ORANGE: 80% of Americans, probably including you.
ALL BLUE: 20% of Americans, probably not including you.
DARK BLUE: 1% of Americans, almost definitely not you.


So what exactly does this mean?

Maybe the folks in the dark blue work harder than you do. Or they're smarter than you are. Or they're just crazy-lucky. Or all three. And everybody else, including you, has just gotten lazy.

You'd think that if the latter were true, that you have been sitting on your fat, pimply tush for the past decade doing nothing along with almost everybody else we'd see American productivity in a horrible decline.

But that's not what's happening.

What's happening is, America's productivity has been skyrocketing. Most Americans have been working harder...have been incredibly productive.

One might imagine that an American's increase in productivity would mean he or she is earning more.

But that's not what's happening either.

At best, most Americans are earning, The Same. And in some cases, they're going backward and making LESS.

240,000,000 Americans, or 80% of them, are fighting for the same pool of money. Pit against one another to compete for that ever shrinking pie. Some political figures suggest that Americans be forced to compete with one another by slashing wages and the minimum wage on the grounds that it's just the new reality in America. But suggest the top 1% take a reduction and free up some of that 50% of America's wealth...and it's berated as unfair.

Scarier still the richest 400 Americans control 8% of the wealth in the US.

And Americans wonder why they don't have much power in the political process. When 400 Americans command the financial funding potential of 120,000,000 Americans it should start to be pretty clear...

You really don't have much power.

And as long as this type of wealth disparity nonsense continues to stay in place, you'll have less power next year. And less the year after that.

In New York, 300 workers in a Motts plant were being asked to take a $3000 a year cut to their wages, in addition to cuts in the health insurance. Simply the reality of the new economic climate, so says the CEO. Simply a way to keep the company competitive. The CEO himself would not take a cut to his own $8 million a year paycheck, of course. The economic "reality" of competition applies only to those in the lower 80%.

But the economic and social "reality" facing those taking home 84% of America's wealth is that this sort of hording of the fruit of America's productivity is not the type of society that is sustainable. And it doesn't lead to the sort of nation most Americans want: an aristocracy where money is pooled up into and held by dynastic families for centuries.

A better distribution of wealth in America means more equal power. A stronger middle class means that the average American has more say over the direction of this great nation of ours.

If it feels like each American's say over the national direction is less, that's because it is. Or that Americans are working harder for less. There's really only one way to address it, and that's to reverse the disparity of wealth in America.


Anonymous said...

The last time we were in this kind of differential, it was only the passage of the income tax amendment that helped to even out the income distribution. At some point, this can create enough social instability that it will seriously threaten the same people who control the wealth - and not do much good for the country.

At some point, the realization that more productivity does not mean better pay is going to have serious repercussions.

Ted Remington said...

Did you see the recent study that showed how ill-informed Americans are about the extent of the inequality of wealth? Fascinating stuff. I've got a link to it in and some comments on it here:

I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.

Muskegon Critic said...

I can only imagine that one of the reasons most Americans aren't aware of the income disparity is because our country is so darn huge. It's easy to live your whole life in a region and never, ever, even once encounter an individual with a stratospherically higher income than we don't really SEE the disparity. The private clubs are private and out of the way. The massive mansions are nestled far off the road on private drives.