Rising Wealth Inequality: Should We Care?


Just one percent of Americans mention inequality when asked what is the most important problem facing the country. Why? Partly because the concentration of wealth is strikingly low by historical standards and the gap between rich and poor has not increased as much as many pundits believe. Another factor may be the relative affluence that the typical American enjoys today.

The nation is looking for the same thing it has for decades – not a leveling of income differences, but a fair chance for everyone to achieve the American Dream.

A prominent public opinion analyst has observed that voters’ economic concerns “have shifted from those of getting to those of keeping.” Those words were written by Samuel Lubell in 1952. Between that year and 1979, the income of the median family doubled, and while progress has slowed, it has still grown respectably since then.

Despite the sluggish recovery, a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year found that three in four Americans who had reached midlife either said they were rich enough to lead the kind of life they wanted or believed they would be in the future. Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, using a national survey that tracks multiple generations, has shown that four in five Americans have exceeded the income their parents had at the same age.

The median American is richer than about 95 percent of people worldwide, a fact that may explain why the gap separating them from the richest Americans is so low on the list of most peoples’ concerns. Instead, Americans want to expand opportunities for upward mobility for the nation’s poorest.

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Upward mobility is almost never spoken of by the media enthralled by Obama.
To them the poor are just poor.
And always will be poor.
Well, I can remember being newlywed and taking out loans to finish college.
I can remember evening meals of beans and rice, beans and franks, eggs, even going to a local hardware store where hot dogs were only a nickle apiece.
But we worked hard and saved.
We risked everything to start our own business.

In other words, we didn’t STAY poor.
And no one else has to either, unless they give up.

One of the things we used to do in the late 1980’s was finance micro-loans to women in India.
These ladies had no husband, father or grown sons.
They were impoverished.
But they had initiative.
One started a breakfast bar right outside her home.
One took in boarders.
One started a shoe repair shop.
They only needed ~ a hundred dollars.
The amazing thing to me was how often their plans worked out.
How just that little bit of help got them into entrepreneurship and out of begging.

From the thread about how the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes; they pay much more:

Here’s another way to look at the fact that America’s rich are already paying more than the rich of most civilized countries:
The top ten percent of American taxpayers pay more to the national government in taxes, both as a percentage of the total taxes collected and in proportion to their share of the national income, than upper-income taxpayers in any other developed country. This chart says it all: