Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot, “Eleven charts that explain everything that’s wrong with America.”
This should really be on everyone’s reading list. If you’ve been wondering why your world view is a bit different than that of those in the economic/political elite, this series of graphs will give you a pretty decent answer. They live in a different world.
This led me to another article with data on income inequality over time (“Wealth concentration, recession, and depression“).
There’s a factoid in it that says a lot about the experience of those born during the “baby boom” that began right after WWII.
According to this article, there was a dramatic move towards leveling of wealth and income from the 1929 stock market crash through the war, with 1949 marking the most equitable distribution of wealth. From then on, the rich have gotten richer while the rest of us have seen our share of the nation’s financial resources decline.
The figures show that in 1929 before the Great Crash, 36.3% of the wealth was held by 1% of the population compared with only 31.6% in 1922. This is a considerable increase and we discuss below why the increase occurred. This concentration created fundamental instability in the economy. Firstly the top 1% put their money into the stock market. These stock market investments were further used as security for loans to buy even more stock, which was also highly leveraged by the use of investment trusts (as mentioned by Galbraith in his book The Great Crash 1929), increasing the leverage still further.
The figures also show that after 1929 there was a trend towards greater wealth equality, reaching a peak in 1949. This leveling parallels also the ‘revolutionary’ income leveling over the same period.” In 1929, the average income of the richest 20% was 15.5 times that of the poorest 20%. By 1951 this ratio had dropped to 9.0…. In no other extended period of US history did the available indicators swing so sharply towards equality”, write Williamson & Lindert.
It appears that for most Americans, our entire lives have been played out against this background of increasing inequality and the concentration of wealth in a tiny sliver of the population.
The interesting political aspect of this is how the powerful have managed to turn the anger and frustration of the majority back against itself through the Tea Party movement, which somehow has been conned into attacking any attempts to slow the flow of wealth to the very top.