Reminder: How wealth inequality crowds out America’s success


Upworthy reposted this little movie today, which reminded me that nothing good has changed since last March. Looks like there’s not much chance of saving America soon, either, with the way things are going in the Capitol.

Is it time to really write the obituaries for America?  I hope not.

Watch it again:

What happens when a lot of money — I mean, a lot of money — is concentrated in a few hands?

The nation runs the risk of economic failure.

This short video says that more money is concentrated in fewer hands than we think.

Description from the maker, Politizane:

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

This is just one facet of the figures necessary for having rational discussions about tax reform, federal budget and deficit cutting, tax policy, and economic and monetary policy.

But it’s an ugly portrait, isn’t it?  How much does it differ from the France of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette?  How much does it differ from the going-to-hell-in-an-accelerating-handbasket U.S. of 1929?  Wealth’s concentration in the hands of a tiny few literally crowds out hundreds of millions of Americans from the ability to successfully accumulate modest nest eggs.

What do you think?

I wish the film’s creator had provided citations.

Have things improved since 2007?  Look at this chart based on Institute for Policy Studies figures:

Maldistribution of U.S. wealth, 2007; Inst for Policy Studies

Source: Institute for Policy Studies, via BusinessInsider

More:

More, since the original posting:

Update March 9, 2013:  This is funny, to me:  Some people think just talking about this stuff is “class warfare.”  How are they so familiar with class warfare, you wonder?  That’s a self-answering question, isn’t it?

 

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119 Responses to Reminder: How wealth inequality crowds out America’s success

  1. Black Flag® says:

    “No special agreement. Social Contract. “I’ll pay you for work.””

    There is no special agreement. Do you think all argeements are special?

    There is just “AN AGREEMENT”. What it is?

    If it is “pay you for work”, what are the terms?

    Ed, do you actually enter into contracts this ignorantly? You don’t know what you need to do, what the other guys needs to do, what the terms and conditions may be, the consequences of success and the consequences of failure???

    You haven’t a fog of a clue about a contract, right?

    There were no terms, so your declaration of “unequal or equal” is utterly irrelevant. You are making up stories as you go along.

    Like

  2. I explicitly stated that up front. It’s not a loophole you’ve found; it’s a condition you overlooked.

    Just went back and checked. That isn’t true either. But, let’s give it to you. Work is work, an hour is an hour, just like a ten-pound bag of barley is a ten-pound bag of barley, or a gallon of pure water is a gallon of pure water.

    The unavoidable conclusion is that liberals abhore the kind of creativity that reduces a day’s worth of labor into a fraction of a second. They cannot comprehend it, and it’s probably because they’re disgusted by it.

    Liberalism is an ideology for a dead, distant-past age, before computer programming, puzzle solving, or anything of the like, back when grinding corn into flour was the most cerebral task a human mind could undertake, along with maybe clubbing papyrus reeds into something resembling paper.

    As such, it simply cannot understand how a good idea might save work. Therefore, someone might very well put in fewer hours and end up earning — and deserving — vastly greater compensation.

    It is a mindset evolved for 3000 BC, struggling to get along in 2000 AD. And failing at it.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Well THAT certainly isn’t true. Your hypothetical implicitly assumes that an hour worked by one worker results in equal progress toward the end objective compared to an hour worked by another. ANY other.

    Correct. That’s one of the givens. In many assembly line jobs, that’s a truism.

    I explicitly stated that up front. It’s not a loophole you’ve found; it’s a condition you overlooked.

    Like

  4. Black Flag® says:

    “No special agreement. Social Contract. “I’ll pay you for work.””

    If there is no agreement, then how did anyone decide to work or not? If a bunch of money was thrown into the center of the room and – according to you – it was a free-for-all, then what did you expect?

    Since your philosophy abhors agreements, your consequences are yours to bear.

    Good luck!

    But in the real world beyond Ed, agreements of work and compensation are made. Failure to abide results in no payment.

    Yours is not a “simple” term. It is an irrational presentation – you stated there was an agreement “….Ten people agree that between them…”, yet you cannot articulate the agreement.

    Yet, you think …somehow… that an agreement that wasn’t an agreement somehow creates an example of “fairness” and somehow contradicts your idea of “fair”.

    No, Ed. There is nothing to fix. You have to get your head on straight and get this “…agree…” concept straight in YOUR MIND.

    Like

  5. When I present it in simple terms, you look for all sorts of loopholes to defend the unjust outcome — but there are none.

    Well THAT certainly isn’t true. Your hypothetical implicitly assumes that an hour worked by one worker results in equal progress toward the end objective compared to an hour worked by another. ANY other.

    With a bit of decent respect paid to the concept of work, one immediately sees the obvious, that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do anything. Suppose your first worker, in that one hour before he quit, actually achieved the goal. Then the other eight (I think you meant to say nine, eight men and one woman) churned away at the project uselessly, and the woman, toward the end of the fifteenth hour she worked, realized that the first guy got it right. Given that, it would make all the sense in the world for the first guy to get all the money.

    You seem to have a grudging disrespect against work that actually accomplishes something. If there really is a goal and the goal really does involve some difficulty, then the hours lose the quality of fungibility; it’s no longer like one half gallon of olive oil being the same as any other half gallon. People work hard, work lazily, work smart, work stupidly. Hard, smart work demands compensation. That is the incentive people have for being creative.

    Like

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    BF BFed:

    No, Ed.
    I asked:
    Obvious some agreement was created between the parties.

    No special agreement. Social Contract. “I’ll pay you for work.”

    The pay was unequal, for equal work, like the present system is where taxes take from the working poor and overworking middle class.

    When I present it in simple terms, you look for all sorts of loopholes to defend the unjust outcome — but there are none. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

    Why not fix it? That’s the question. You don’t want to fix it? Why not? You’re getting screwed, BF. Do you enjoy it?

    Government is not required to support your SM fetishes.

    Like

  7. Biggest lie in the world is from our friends, the liberals.

    “If you won’t support my idea, you must be defending the status quo.”

    It’s also one of the most ancient lies in human history. They haven’t got an incentive to stop telling it, ever, anywhere.

    Like

  8. Black Flag® says:

    “Some worked more hours. Only variable is the number of hours worked. Same amount of work each hour, same task. I stated that in the hypo.”

    No, Ed.
    I asked:
    Obvious some agreement was created between the parties.

    What was it?
    Was it followed?

    Your inability to articulate this, considering its your hypothetical, is telling.

    You are merely making up a bizarre story on a whim, without any principle or notion.

    Like

  9. Look at the tax system. It transfers wealth from the poor to the rich. Not slander if it’s accurate — and it is accurate.

    You defend the current tax system and Bush tax cuts. You’re advocating for the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

    You now claim you didn’t know?

    The current tax system is a progressive income tax system. And I have not defended it.

    Slander, slander, slander!

    Like

  10. Black Flag® says:

    Pray tell, what is your universal measure of “equal” when it comes to effort?

    Are you telling me that everyone works exactly the same, under the same conditions and constraints?

    Like

  11. Black Flag® says:

    “Look at the tax system. It transfers wealth from the poor to the rich. Not slander if it’s accurate — and it is accurate.”

    Yes, and it transfer wealth from the rich to the poor even more.

    It is selective – a minority pilfers from the majority for the minorities benefit.

    You defend the tax system only when you benefit, though, you attack the same system when it doesn’t.

    The problem is the system, but since you defend it, you are confused to why it appears dysfunctional.

    Like

  12. Ed Darrell says:

    Look at the tax system. It transfers wealth from the poor to the rich. Not slander if it’s accurate — and it is accurate.

    You defend the current tax system and Bush tax cuts. You’re advocating for the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

    You now claim you didn’t know?

    Like

  13. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. So all this stuff about “rich” and “poor” is off topic. We’re talking strictly about income.

    Should I even bother trying to get to the bottom of this slander, about me advocating for a wealth transfer from the poor to the rich? Or when you slandered me this way, were you talking purely about low-income versus high-income…

    You never did bother to provide support for your slander. Where did I advocate for such a transfer?

    Like

  14. Ed Darrell says:

    Income inequality — unequal pay for equal work.

    There will always be some wealth inequality. The Rockefellers got a head start.

    But if we take care of income inequality, and don’t use taxes to redistribute wealth from the poor and middle class to the very rich, wealth inequality will even out, to the benefit of all participants in the economy. There will be greater wealth overall, more millionaires, more billionaires, and less poverty.

    Income inequality leads to injustice in many areas, poverty and festering problems in housing and communities. Even that out, a lot of other problems go away.

    As the charts indicate, though most Americans are working smarter, harder and longer, they get paid less than they used to. The increases in wealth creation have been sent to the very wealthy, largely through our unjust tax system.

    Fair, just taxes, are good things to work for.

    Like

  15. Still wondering whether we’re talking about income inequality or wealth inequality, which are two very different things.

    Also wondering what the wealth of Fidel Castro is, compared to the wealth of the average Cuban.

    Most of all, wondering where I ever advocated for a government-administered transfer of income/wealth from the poor to the rich.

    I asked you to substantiate your slander, Ed, and the only response I got back was something like “Morgan and Black Flag think these two guys are thieves” — more slander.

    But yeah, when your ideas really don’t work, I guess it’s too much to expect for you to answer simple questions like these…

    Like

  16. Ed Darrell says:

    Some worked more hours. Only variable is the number of hours worked. Same amount of work each hour, same task. I stated that in the hypo.

    Like

  17. Black Flag® says:

    “As I said, the hypothetical had all the critical facts.”

    No, it did not.

    Obvious some agreement was created between the parties.
    What was it?
    Was it followed?

    If it wasn’t, then that’s the problem, Ed – not some ridiculous notion of “fair”.

    “No. Equal work for each person, per hour. The only variable is the number of hours worked. They all did the same task, as I stated.”

    No, you stated some did more.

    Your concept of “same” obvious is very incoherent or incomplete.

    Like

  18. Ed Darrell says:

    Like

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    As I said, the hypothetical had all the critical facts.

    Like all hypotheticals, Ed, you leave out critical information so to promote your obscene concepts.

    What was the terms of the agreement, Ed?

    Exactly what was stated.

    Was the agreement that guy #1 do the most important work, work if not done made the rest of the effort pointless?

    No. Equal work for each person, per hour. The only variable is the number of hours worked. They all did the same task, as I stated.

    Did they all agree it was so important to pay him 99, and the rest split the 1 since their part was insignificant?

    No.

    Like

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