Studies (yes, actual studies) have indicted that the average American has no idea how bad wealth inequality in this country has become.
So, a few markers for your edification. This comes from Congress's nonpartisan research service.
The top 1% owns 34.6% (more than one-third) of the wealth of the country.
The top 10% owns a whopping 74.5% (very close to three quarters) of the wealth of the country, including virtually all of the financial wealth (privately held stock, financial securities, business equity, trust funds, etc.).
The bottom 50%—all together now!—reportedly own 1.1% of America's wealth. (Caveat: until they win the Lotto; then it's fat city, baby. Matter of time*.)
So here's what I want to know. What are the dividing lines? What does your net worth have to be to land you in the top 10%? And what's the highest your net worth can be while still relegating you to the bottom 50%, slamming the door to entry in the top 50%?
I haven't been able to find those figures. Anybody know?
And here's something interesting...and actually kind of heartening. The study I mentioned in up top—Norton & Ariely, 2010—discovered that "All demographic groups—even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy—desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo." Shades of Warren Buffet.
*Median amount of time needed to win Lotto jackpot, assuming you buy 200 tickets per week: approx. 640 years. I lost again this week, dang it. But I only bought one ticket, so my median time to jackpot is presumably 128,000 years.
"Open Mike" is a series of off-topic posts by Yr. Hmbl. Editor that appear on Sundays.
A hopeful warning: All views are welcome in response to this, but please, be polite, no insults, and hold the excessive diatribes. It might help to remember that we have some tenpercenters and even some onepercenters among us. So no hate, please. We're all friends here.
CORRECTIONS (Monday 12:30 p.m.): The original version of this post contained a critical error: the first sentence said "income inequality" whereas what I intended to say was "wealth inequality." My apologies.
Originally the post speculated that non-Americans might be even less aware of inequality in America than Americans are. Many readers disputed this, and it wasn't an important assertion anyway, so I deleted it.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by John Denniston: "This story may be apocryphal—it was told to me by a buddy and attributed to a successful local artist by the name of Alan Wood. Wood was at a gallery opening featuring his paintings. At the end of a long annoying conversation with one of the very rich who was boasting of how much he owned, what he'd just bought, and what he planned to buy in the future, Wood said, 'I have something you will never own.' To this Mr. Very Rich replied, 'What can you possibly have that I can't buy?' Wood replied, 'Enough.'"
Featured Comment by Speed: "Net worth percentile in 2010 in U.S. dollars:
- 25th percentile: $8,300
- 50th percentile: $77,300
- 75th percentile: $301,700
- 90th percentile: $952,900
"This comes from this report (page 77). The report includes data from 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. Older data is available here: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989–2001."