The Concentration of Wealth in America

According to the polling, most Americans have no idea how concentrated wealth is in America.

Apparently, we tend to think it is much more evenly distributed than it in fact is.  So here's a fun figure: In 2007, one-fifth of Americans owned 85% of the privately held wealth in America.

In other words, the vast majority of Americans -- eight in every ten of us -- made do with only 15% of the nation's wealth.

That's quite an interesting fact, methinks.

I'm no economist, but it seems to me like our policies of shipping most of the well paid jobs off-shore while cutting taxes on the rich might be having consequences.

But whatever the cause of the concentration of wealth, I doubt what's left of representative democracy in America can long withstand such an unequal distribution of wealth. 

8 comments:

  1. As long as you guys vote in the Republicans, slash any social aid measures and send everything to conservative courts for settlement, that will be the regular state of things.

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    1. The Democrats have been in control of at least one house of Congress the last five years, and the White House for the last three. Nothing about the "Republicans'" plan has changed. I think the problem is that too many progressives reward Democrats even when they fail to do what we sent them there to do. As long as that continues, it's not going to matter which party is in power. This trend will continue regardless.

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  2. A more equal distribution of wealth would smack of socialism! No one said capitalism was fair except those at the top of the giant pyramid.

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  3. So, the answer is to have "Government" redistribute the wealth, rather than let the market determine that? Who, then, is the "Government" and where do they get the power to do this? It is not in the Constitution, so I assume some sort of revolution would be necessary. Where have we seen that scenario before???

    "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

    Peace.

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    1. I've got a news flash for you - the government is redistributing wealth right now. It's preventing some of the biggest financial institutions from going bankrupt, solely so the people who run them and own stock in them don't lose money. Every time the government acts, moreover, it redistributes wealth.

      The "market" is controlled by the same people who are controlling the government. Unregulated markets inevitably end up being controlled by the most ruthless, amoral people and organizations. We've watched that happen over the last thirty years, as one industry after another has been "deregulated". Finally, they de-regulated the banks back in the late 1990s, and it took the banks little more than a decade to lose their shirts.

      If we people control the government, then it will mostly work on our behalf. If we decide to let "markets" decide what happens, it won't. That's the lesson that anyone who actually observed the events of the last forty years would realize. Too bad there are so few of us.

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  4. Concentrated wealth is what creates deep culture. Overly concentrated wealth breeds rebellion, anarchy and crime. I am puzzled too.

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  5. This has fluctuated dramatically historically. This is how it was in the 1920's and the nineteenth century. But there have been cycles for multiple reasons. It's very complex. Inequality declined between the l920's and 1970's and then began to increase again. The 1970's Vietnam War, oil embargoes, Johnson's War on Poverty run on deficits all had an effect. Some people think the post-WWII expansion and building ran out of steam. I agree with the first writer that this country is phobic about socialism and I also don't think those of us without wealth have any power whatsoever over those with wealth, who own the whole country and and it's politicians. In fact many of whom ARE the politicians. The rich just get richer and there will never be anarchy in this country. Crime, yes, but like the rich, very organized.

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Comments Welcome -- but no flaming. If you wish, you can email me at paul_sunstone@q.com