The average well-being of our societies is not dependent any longer on national income and economic growth… But the differences between us and where we are in relation to each other now matter very much. — Richard Wilkinson“
The Case for Asteroid Status
While the foundations of our capitalistic society are clearly built on the existence of economic inequality as a basis for compelling a desire to achieve, the inequality that exists now in our culture has exceeded levels that can be considered constructive to our economy. Beyond the intrinsic difficulty of maintaining a cohesive social structure (as in e pluribus unum), many other societal ills are correlated with increased societal inequality (life expectancy, literacy, trust are all lower; infant mortality, homicide, teenage births, imprisonment, obesity, and alcohol and drug addition are all higher). The United States is highest in economic inequality among developed nations.
15 Facts About U.S. Income Inequality That Everyone Should Know, by Maxwell Strachan
- In 1970, the average CEO made 39 times what the average worker did. In 2000, the average CEO made 1039 times the worker’s salary (in 2008 it was 1723 times, in resource below)
- Substantial increases in productivity of workers has driven an increase in national income, yet those very workers driving the creativity have experienced a simultaneous stagnation in their wages.
23 Mind-Blowing Facts About Income Inequality In America, by Gus Lubin in Business Insider
- The median household income has dropped over 10% since March of 2009. (During the same period the S&P500 is up over 80%.
- The bottom 90% have 73% of the debt
- Despite the myth of social mobility, poor Americans have a slim chance of rising to the upper middle class – their odds have dropped by two-thirds steadily since the 1940’s. Social mobility is lower in the U.S. that it is in many other developed nations.
- Taxes on the highest earners are close to the lowest they’ve ever been in history.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on rising inequality HERE.
Mother Jones: It’s the Inequality Stupid by Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot – “Eleven charts that explain what’s wrong with America.”
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, by Chrystia Freeland
The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph Stiglitz
Slate – The Great Divergence In Pictures: A visual guide to income inequality, by Timothy Noah.
Information is Beautiful, Income Inequality Between High Earners and Low Earners as measured by the Gini coefficient
The below charts can be downloaded as a pdf for use at Mother Jones HERE and HERE. Find a number of other helpful charts designed for download online at Mother Jones. Out of Balance graphic can be downloaded HERE.
A closer look at the asteroid – what skeptics say, facts that weigh against this being an asteroid and important details.
Is the solution a more progressive tax code? Is it services to lower income levels to adjust for the gap? Help us by recommending resources you think offer sensible solutions that create minimal disruption with potential maximum effect.