05 June 2024

Wealth Inequality in the United States

About 6 minutes long, and worth your time.  But if you are in a hurry, start at the 1:36 mark.  The last five minutes is stunning.


  1. Are we upset that the people over on the right of the graph have more stuff than the people on the left, or are we upset that the people on the left are suffering horribly?

    1. It's not about more. It's about how insanely much more. That's the point.

    2. To paraphrase Churchill, now we're just haggling over the price.

    3. I thought that was a quote from W.C. Fields, but apparently the attribution is clouded:


      Not sure it's applicable to this situation.

  2. There are easy measures to solve this:

    * End the difference between labor income and investment income. Taxing investment less than labor says we value labor less than investing. That's insane.
    * Cap the mortgage deduction at some reasonable amount and only the primary residence of a *family*.
    * Take all the loop-holes out the alternative minimum tax, and make sure that everyone in the highest bracket pays 30-40%. Apply this to companies too.
    * Start taxing inheritances. Have a middle-class tax-free amount and tax as income above that. The vast majority of this insane wealth at the top is transferred through tax-free inheritances.

    /end dream

    Finally, this can only exist because the vast majority of people are numerically illiterate. People don't understand percentages, interest on interest and orders of magnitude. If they did, they'd be livid at the financial industry ripping them of constantly. On their mortgage, on their retirement funds, and on their cell phone plan.

    The next time you talk to a financial professional, do some numbers ahead of time - pull them from the internet if you must, and call them on their bullshit. See how their posture changes after that. They'll suddenly take you serious.

  3. At what point do these conditions trigger a revolution?


    1. Depends on how long the bread and circuses can continue to divert.

    2. Huxley nailed it with "soma." We now have many versions, all willingly consumed by the public. (From iPhones to...) For purposes of illustration, Google soma and see what the search engine spits out. It won't be a reference to Huxley; instead an endless stream of consumer items marketed under some version of a soma brand name--lingerie, etc. Ironic? Tragic? Hilarious? All depends on the mood of the day. It appears the 1% can rest easy as we drift toward an environmental apocalypse sucking them into the same vortex of extinction gobbling every other species of vertebrate life.

    3. “Teach your children what we have taught our children –
      That the earth is our mother.
      Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
      If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

      This we know – the earth does not belong to us.
      We belong to the earth.

      This we know – all things are connected, like the blood which unites one family
      All things are connected.

      Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth
      We did not weave the web of life, We are merely a strand in it
      Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”

      --Chief Seattle (1786-1866)
      Suquamish leader, Pacific NW. Passage from letter to territorial governor pleading for Native American rights and environmental values.

    4. I hate to be that guy, but since you value scrutiny: "The gorgeous environmental speech that is everywhere attributed to the nineteenth-century tribal leader was, in fact, written by screenwriter Ted Perry in 1971 for a film on ecology." (Source) (Book)

    5. I had seen suggestions of that when I first found the quotation. Sorry to see it confirmed. Tx, drabkikker.

  4. I'm not a genius, but as a History teacher, I have spent a lot of time thinking on such things.

    First, as I have pointed out numerous times on this site: If someone has $1 billion--no interest, etc.--that person can spend $100,000 a DAY for over 10 years.

    Ha! I'm joking. That person can spend $100,000 a DAY, seven days a week, for OVER 27 YEARS!

    I am a conservative, but that is assuredly WRONG. No one worked that hard. A ditch-digger works far harder, but is typically quite poor. You might have started something, then did an IPO that made you a lot of money, but you did NOT work that hard. You found some lawyers that will get a big percentage of the IPO income...and they make it happen. Etc.

    I am on the final pages of David McCullough's excellent biography, "Truman." Truman was paid $600,000 over five years for his Memoirs. After taxes and expenses, he had less than $30,000 profit.

    I do not begrudge people having massive wealth...so long as everyone in this incredible nation has health care, education, a good, safe place to life, money for plenty of food, and some for just having a life. But when not even those basics of life are provided, all while others wallow in wealth, something is wrong. We have lost our way.

    Part of that is due to the false belief that "If you'll only work hard, you, too, can be rich." That's a lie. As I said before, ditch-diggers work mighty hard. Yes, you might have enough to have a home or the such, but you'll always live at the behest of employers...since you need their income too much to quit, and they will never pay you enough to allow you to walk away.

    If I were the boss of the world, I think I would make it simple. There would be no money taken out for taxes on your check (although perhaps for Social Security). But you would pay a flat 10% of what you earned...PLUS there would be a national sales tax of, I don't know, say 5%.

    Businesses would pay, say, 10% of income...or 5% of profit, whichever calculation is the most. (This keeps games from being played by placing money in a way that it doesn't look like profit.)

    Oh, it's not enough for Congress? TOO BAD! Do what millions of families do ever paycheck and make some TOUGH DECISIONS for once!

    You couldn't do worse if Congress was seated with those whose names were drawn in a lottery.

    1. If I were the boss of the world, I think I would make it simple. There would be no money taken out for taxes on your check (although perhaps for Social Security). But you would pay a flat 10% of what you earned...PLUS there would be a national sales tax of, I don't know, say 5%.

      So, you'd raise taxes on the poor to get the rich.....

    2. You can raise the income of the poor with stronger minimum wage legislation, maybe even linked as a percentage of CEO remuneration (including stock options). CEOs aren't taxed lightly because of lower income tax on the rich, it's because they bypass the higher tax rates by getting paid in stock which is barely taxed. That aside, flat tax rates will never work, especially on consumption, because the rich are able to circumvent it.


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