I think I better understand why so many people vote Republican now. The average American is projecting an economic vision of American that is fantastically, horrifyingly wrong.
This study cites other works that estimate the income disparity may be so bad, that 1% of the nation’s population controls 50% of its wealth (Davies, Sandstrom, Shorrocks, & Wolff, 2009; Keister, 2000; Wolff, 2002).
The results of the study that are shown in the graph is solid. Out of a list of 1 million Americans, roughly 5,500 were randomly chose. Their median income is close to the national average ($45,000 to the national $48,000). I think it’s important to go over medians vs. averages. The median is the middle set of numbers out of a population. and the average is the numerical sum divided by the population’s quantity. So if four guys make $1 and one guy makes $999,996, the median is still $1 but the average is $200,000. Since only 20% of the population makes over the average, this population would be pretty unequal, yeah?
Anyway, politically the sample is the national norm. So they’re normal Americans with normal American views, as best as they can be defined. And they failed to grasp the reality of their nation’s economy, in totality.
The difference in American wealth inequality has probably never been as stark. Wealth inequality is certainly the highest since the Great Depression. The y-axis below describes the share of national wealth of the top 10%. Please compare the glaringly different historical norm to today. During the prime years of America’s “Greatest Generation”, the largest share the top decile controlled only 30%. It’s now estimated that the top 1% controls as much as 50% of the wealth.
Why this is bad is fairly obvious. If wealth is highly concentrated, it’s harder for the median middle class (as opposed to the middle class derived from an averaged income) to get their kids into good colleges, adequately save for retirement, or influence their elected officials. It’s been strongly documented that the non-wealthy have almost no chance of influencing their elected politicians if the non-wealthy favor a policy and the rich don’t. I wrote about this. It’s time to wake up and realize the American glory days had a very different economic reality, one where the wealthy were less wealthy and the poor were less poor. And more people were better off and able to influence their politicians.
Many of us are being left behind, and increasingly marginalized by politicians that prefer the rich by a factor of 3 to 1. It’s due, very likely, to imbalanced economic inequalities. Is this a trend you want to continue for you and your children? Because let me tell you, you’re not likely to be benefiting from it. And if you are, you probably won’t be soon enough.