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  • There's a chart I saw recently that I can't get out of my head.

  • A Harvard business professor and economist asked more than five thousand Americans:

  • how they thought wealth was distributed in the United States.

  • this is what they said they thought it was: dividing the country into five rough

  • groups of the top bottom and middle three twenty percent groups,

  • they asked people how they thought the wealth in this country was divided?

  • then he ask them, what they thought was the ideal distribution?

  • And ninety two percent, that's at least nine out of ten of them, said it should be more like this.

  • In other words, more equitable than they think it is.

  • Now that fact is telling, admittedly, the notion that most Americans know that the system is already skewed unfairly.

  • But what's most interesting to me is the reality compared to our perception.

  • The ideal is as far removed from our perception of reality as the actual distribution is from what we think exists in this country.

  • So, ignore the ideal for a moment.

  • Here's what we think it is again.

  • And here is the actual distribution.

  • Shockingly skewed.

  • Not only do the bottom twenty percent and the next twenty percent,

  • the bottom forty percent of Americans barely have any of the wealth.

  • I mean it's hard to even see them on the chart.

  • But the top one percent has more of the country's wealth than nine out of ten Americans believe the entire top twenty percent should have.

  • Mind-blowing.

  • But let's look at it another way because I find this chart kind of difficult to wrap my head around.

  • Instead, let's reduce the three hundred and eleven million Americans to just a representative one hundred people

  • Make it simple.

  • Here they are.

  • Teachers, coaches,

  • firefighters, construction workers, engineers, doctors, lawyers,

  • some investment bankers, a C.E.O., maybe a celebrity or two.

  • Now let's line 'em up according to their wealth.

  • Poorest people on the left, wealthiest on the right.

  • Just a steady row of folks based on their net worth.

  • We'll color code them like we did before based on which twenty percent quintile they fall into.

  • Now let's reduce the total wealth of the United States,

  • which was roughly fifty four trillion dollars in two thousand and nine,

  • to this symbolic pile of cash, and let's distribute it among our one hundred Americans.

  • Well, here's socialism, all of the wealth of the country distributed equally.

  • We all know that won't work.

  • We need to encourage people to work and work hard

  • to achieve that good ole American dream and, keep our country moving forward.

  • So, here's that ideal we asked everyone about,

  • something like this curve.

  • This isn't too bad! we've got some incentive as the wealthiest folks are now about ten to twenty times better off than the poorest Americans.

  • But hey, even the poor folks aren't actually poor since the poverty line has stayed almost entirely off the chart.

  • We have a super healthy middle-class with a smooth transition into wealth,

  • and yes, Republicans and Democrats alike chose this curve.

  • Nine out of ten people, ninety-two percent said this was a nice, ideal distribution of America's wealth.

  • But let's move on.

  • This is what people think America's wealth distribution actually looks like.

  • Not as inequitable, clearly.

  • But for me,

  • even this still looks pretty great!

  • Yes, the poorest twenty to thirty percent are starting to suffer quite a lot,

  • compared to the ideal,

  • and the middle class is certainly struggling more than they were,

  • while the rich and wealthy are making roughly a hundred times that of the poorest Americans

  • and at about ten times that of the still healthy middle class.

  • Sadly, this isn't even close to the reality.

  • Here is the actual distribution of wealth in America.

  • The poorest Americans don't even register.

  • They're down to pocket change.

  • and the middle class is barely distinguishable from the poor.

  • In fact, even the rich between the top ten and twenty percentile are worse off.

  • Only the top ten percent are better off, and how much better off?

  • So much better off that the top two to five percent are actually off the chart at this scale.

  • And the top one percent,

  • this guy,

  • well, his stack of money stretches ten times higher than we can show.

  • Here's his stack of cash restacked all by itself.

  • This is the top one percent we've been hearing so much about.

  • So much green in his pockets that i have to give him a whole new column of his own because he won't fit on my chart

  • One percent of America has forty percent of all the nation's wealth.

  • The bottom eighty percent,

  • eight out of every ten people or eighty out of these hundred,

  • only has seven percent between them.

  • And this has only gotten worse in the last twenty to thirty years.

  • While the richest one percent take home almost a quarter of the national income today.

  • In nineteen seventy-six they took home only nine percent,

  • meaning their share of income has nearly tripled in the last thirty years.

  • The top one percent own half the country's stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

  • The bottom fifty percent of Americans own only half a percent of these investments.

  • Which means

  • they aren't investing -

  • they're just scraping by. I'm sure many of these wealthy people have worked

  • very hard for their money, but do you really believe that the C.E.O. is working

  • three hundred and eighty times harder than his average employee, not his lowest

  • paid employee, not the janitor,

  • but the average earner in his company, the average worker needs to work more than a month

  • to earn what the C.E.O. makes in one hour.

  • We certainly don't have to go all the way to socialism

  • to find something that is fair for hardworking Americans.

  • We don't even have to achieve what most of us consider might be ideal.

  • All we need to do is wake up

  • and realize that the reality in this country

  • is not at all what we think it is.

There's a chart I saw recently that I can't get out of my head.

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B1 US percent wealth twenty percent ideal distribution poorest

Wealth Inequality in America

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    VoiceTube posted on 2016/05/15
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