Americans Have No Idea About Wealth Inequality in America
Posted: 24 September 2010 04:10 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Read the article here.

The original study is from the Harvard Business School, and can be found in .pdf form HERE.

Title: Building a Better America – One Wealth Quintile at a Time

Authors: Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School. Dan Ariely, Duke University

Forthcoming in Perspectives on Psychological Science

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Posted: 24 September 2010 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Very interesting!  I had no idea, that people can be so wrong about it. I don’t know the figures by heart, but so now and then one hears something like ‘in the USA 10% of the people earn 90% of the money, so 90% of the people only earn 10% of the money’. Isn’t this known in the USA itself?

GdB

PS Wow, your own Web journal! You look quite different than I thought. Thought you have a big grey beard… Interesting article! It will not surprise you that I agree very much with your writing. Never thought about the special role of SF. Maybe that is the reason I always felt attracted to SF movies, especially those that play in space.

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Posted: 24 September 2010 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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GdB - 24 September 2010 04:49 AM

Very interesting!  I had no idea, that people can be so wrong about it. I don’t know the figures by heart, but so now and then one hears something like ‘in the USA 10% of the people earn 90% of the money, so 90% of the people only earn 10% of the money’. Isn’t this known in the USA itself?

Well, apparently not, given those statistics.

However just to be clear, this wasn’t about earnings, but rather about total wealth ownership. Not sure about the earnings statistics. And it isn’t 90%-10%. Yet.

GdB - 24 September 2010 04:49 AM

PS Wow, your own Web journal! You look quite different than I thought. Thought you have a big grey beard… Interesting article! It will not surprise you that I agree very much with your writing. Never thought about the special role of SF. Maybe that is the reason I always felt attracted to SF movies, especially those that play in space.

Thanks!

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Posted: 24 September 2010 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I glanced through that. Already well aware of the uniquely American concept of inequality in this country. This is something that really angers and disappoints me.
It’s summed up best by the first 2 comments to the article at the bottom. This is basically still a country of slaves. Slaves, sharecroppers, landowners, shopkeepers, bankers, and barons.
Who has the largest prison population in the world?

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Posted: 24 September 2010 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Well, I’m glad that at least so many people think things should be more egalitarian, even the ones making $100k+

Edit: Oh, but then again, the scenario they outlined asked was: “imagine that if you joined this nation, you would be randomly assigned to a place in the distribution, so you could end up anywhere in this distribution, from the very richest to the very poorest.” So that changes things a bit….  confused ... of course if you’re randomly assigned, you’d want a more equal distribution of wealth… kind of misleading

[ Edited: 24 September 2010 12:03 PM by domokato ]
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Posted: 25 September 2010 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The wealth isn’t that troubling to me.  I mean it is concerning, but there is something I and other Americans should be more concerned about, and that is the lack of mobility in income between generations.  Basically, it is unlikely you will make much less or much more than your parents did after correcting for inflation.  Though, the interaction between weak mobility and large wealth disparity is also particularly concerning.  It says we have a long way to go before we truly understand how to construct equality and maximizing peoples potential in a meritocracy.

[ Edited: 25 September 2010 11:19 AM by qutsemnie ]
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Posted: 25 September 2010 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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VYAZMA - 24 September 2010 08:33 AM

I glanced through that. Already well aware of the uniquely American concept of inequality in this country. This is something that really angers and disappoints me.
It’s summed up best by the first 2 comments to the article at the bottom. This is basically still a country of slaves. Slaves, sharecroppers, landowners, shopkeepers, bankers, and barons.
Who has the largest prison population in the world?

Of course, slavery is the ultimate form of Capitalism.
I believe that the current distribution of wealth is that 20% of the population account for 90% of the nation’s wealth.
What really irks me is that a very large portion of the population (in the lower earnings percentile) still believe that cutting taxes for the rich is a good thing and somehow will make their life better. They are willing victims of one of the greatest con games in history. Incredible!

[ Edited: 25 September 2010 12:57 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 25 September 2010 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Write4U-

Of course, slavery is the ultimate form of Capitalism.
I believe that the current distribution of wealth is that 20% of the population account for 90% of the nation’s wealth.
What really irks me is that a very large portion of the population (in the lower earnings percentile) still believe that cutting taxes for the rich is a good thing and somehow will make their life better. They are willing victims of one of the greatest con games in history. Incredible!

One of the most interesting items in American history is the use of the word “abolished”. What exactly happened on that day when slavery was abolished?
Was it on a specific day? Was it a specific week then? Maybe a year? No?
Because we know for a fact that there was outright, coarse, abject slavery in this country. Institutionalized slavery. Where did it go? Sure the slave/stockyards of the nations port cities went away. But the manpower was still there. A steady supply of fresh meat was always on hand. There was no need to import people anymore. Plus massive influxes of immigrants started to pour in. Now slavery took on new dimensions. Lets face it the vast majority of these people ground themselves up in factories and mills. Right on through to WWII. The blacks were still segregated right on through to WWII. They were mostly slaves still. Just like the immigrants.
Sure there are success stories. Thats what we like to highlight. And the post WWII era brought massive amounts of prosperity. But apparently that era is rapidly coming to an end.
But where are the slaves now? You think they just went away? I don’t. I’ve seen the ugly side of 75% of all the mid-size to large cities in this country. Ghettos! I’ve seen the massive amount of rural poverty too. In every state. It’s complete and utter disenfranchisement. It’s total disconnect from the meaningful notions of civic structure. And those citizens who still somehow cling to the notion of a democracy or a republic baffle me. There aren’t many of them. All the rancor, and crime…that’s the result of being self-aware of the disenfranchisement. Plain and simple.
Now we have the various grades of people and families who desperately cling to the edge. They’re poor too. They look down and see abject misery, and look forward and see the rock they are rolling uphill like Sysyphus.
Somewhere along that spectrum the incredible con game you mentioned takes place. That game is enabled with all the old tricks. Racism, carrot and stick, divide and conquer…and just plain old repetitive sloganeering and shystering. Like adding .50 cents on to a minimum wage and making it a big deal.
Capitalism brings forth new innovations. New technologies, but mostly the ever-improving ingenuity. Slavery was one of those ingenuities. It has been improved upon for hundreds of years now.
So to touch upon the title to this thread-“Americans have no idea of wealth inequality in America.” Ask yourself what a slave in 1715 or 1690 would have known about wealth inequality.
It’s mostly the same concept today. Who exactly are “The Americans” in this threads title?

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Posted: 25 September 2010 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Yes, when I was bookkeeping for a fairly large non-profit umbrella company we facilitated several federal and state community projects in addition to private fundraisers and donations.
When there is a cost of living adjustment (COLA) it is always based on percentages of increase, never on the increase in actual cost of living expense. The law prescribes that COLA be applied in percentages of income.
Thus if there is is an actual price increase of 300 dollars per year and this represents a 3% increase in the overall cost of living, increasing salaries by 3% instead of 300 dollars means that a person making 100,000 dollars a year gets a COLA of 3000 dollars, while the person making 10,000 dollars per year gets 300 dollars (which happens to be the actual cost increase). Why should the 100,000 earner be rewarded with a COLA of 3000 dollars?
The name is “cost of Living adjustment”, not “cost of Lifestyle adjustment”.
But is one of those little perks which create inequality.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Write4U - 25 September 2010 12:52 PM

Of course, slavery is the ultimate form of Capitalism.
I believe that the current distribution of wealth is that 20% of the population account for 90% of the nation’s wealth.
What really irks me is that a very large portion of the population (in the lower earnings percentile) still believe that cutting taxes for the rich is a good thing and somehow will make their life better. They are willing victims of one of the greatest con games in history. Incredible!

Aren’t we all slaves to out desires? Capitalism or any system could work if it weren’t for human greed. There will always be greed. There will always be the sociopaths who have no concern for their fellow man.

It’s easy to blame a system but we are the system. A system is nothing. It’s a tool. Individuals control it, they make the decisions. When do individuals become accountable? Or is everyone just a victim of the system?

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Posted: 06 October 2010 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Write4U - 25 September 2010 11:49 PM

Yes, when I was bookkeeping for a fairly large non-profit umbrella company we facilitated several federal and state community projects in addition to private fundraisers and donations.
When there is a cost of living adjustment (COLA) it is always based on percentages of increase, never on the increase in actual cost of living expense. The law prescribes that COLA be applied in percentages of income.
Thus if there is is an actual price increase of 300 dollars per year and this represents a 3% increase in the overall cost of living, increasing salaries by 3% instead of 300 dollars means that a person making 100,000 dollars a year gets a COLA of 3000 dollars, while the person making 10,000 dollars per year gets 300 dollars (which happens to be the actual cost increase). Why should the 100,000 earner be rewarded with a COLA of 3000 dollars?
The name is “cost of Living adjustment”, not “cost of Lifestyle adjustment”.
But is one of those little perks which create inequality.

How much of his $188 million should John Kerry hand over?

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Posted: 06 October 2010 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Very interesting discussion.  I heard a related story on NPR the other day about a new book by economist Robert Reich, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future”.  Something that stuck with me was that the periods with the highest concentration of wealth at the top were right before the great depression & right before our current major recession…

I found Gnostikosis’ comments very interesting & I still struggle with this.  Human greed, albeit excessive, is definitely at the core of capitalism’s problems and has been throughout history, but how do you deal with it?  It’s human nature, right?  Is regulation the answer, or can it only do so much?  I understand that people think the idea of free markets sounds good (on the surface), and surely a Chinese-like manipulation of the economy is not the way to go.  But the most common argument from free-marketers (including Tea-partiers - new documentary promises interesting insights about that group cool hmm) seems to be about personal liberty - “We don’t want evil, corrupt big-government infringing on our personal freedoms.”  It’s ironic that many of the conservatives in this camp are more than willing to let the government limit your & my personal freedoms as long as it’s a moral position that they agree with (e.g. gay marriage, abortion, etc., etc.), but I digress zipper...

Granted my perspective is limited, but it seems that the often derided “big-government” market intervention (e.g., regulation of industry) doesn’t restrict personal liberty, but actually protects all us peons.  This has been reinforced by SO many stories of wealthy businessmen throughout history unfairly manipulating the system via predatory/monopolistic actions.  A book I’m currently finishing, Internal Combustion, contains numerous examples from the control of coal in Europe (Hostmen of Newcastle) to America’s transportation infrastructure (GM-led consortium, including Phillips Petroleum & Firestone Tire, convicted in 1949 of “conspiracy to monopolize” for covertly buying public transportation systems around the country, converting them from electric trollies to diesel-burning/tire-using GM buses with guaranteed contracts for those companies, then running those public transport systems into the ground so that even more profitable individual cars could rule the landscape).  The documentary FLOW (For Love of Water) shows the manipulation of water supplies for profit.  Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price showcases several dubious action including unfair labor practices.  Etc., etc., etc.  Competition is good, but it has to be fair competition.

I found the documentary “The Corporation” very instructive as to what ails our current market structure.

winbert

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Posted: 06 October 2010 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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winbert - 06 October 2010 09:20 AM

Very interesting discussion.  I heard a related story on NPR the other day about a new book by economist Robert Reich, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future”.  Something that stuck with me was that the periods with the highest concentration of wealth at the top were right before the great depression & right before our current major recession…

I found Gnostikosis’ comments very interesting & I still struggle with this.  Human greed, albeit excessive, is definitely at the core of capitalism’s problems and has been throughout history, but how do you deal with it?  It’s human nature, right?  Is regulation the answer, or can it only do so much?  I understand that people think the idea of free markets sounds good (on the surface), and surely a Chinese-like manipulation of the economy is not the way to go.  But the most common argument from free-marketers (including Tea-partiers - new documentary promises interesting insights about that group cool hmm) seems to be about personal liberty - “We don’t want evil, corrupt big-government infringing on our personal freedoms.”  It’s ironic that many of the conservatives in this camp are more than willing to let the government limit your & my personal freedoms as long as it’s a moral position that they agree with (e.g. gay marriage, abortion, etc., etc.), but I digress zipper...

Granted my perspective is limited, but it seems that the often derided “big-government” market intervention (e.g., regulation of industry) doesn’t restrict personal liberty, but actually protects all us peons.  This has been reinforced by SO many stories of wealthy businessmen throughout history unfairly manipulating the system via predatory/monopolistic actions.  A book I’m currently finishing, Internal Combustion, contains numerous examples from the control of coal in Europe (Hostmen of Newcastle) to America’s transportation infrastructure (GM-led consortium, including Phillips Petroleum & Firestone Tire, convicted in 1949 of “conspiracy to monopolize” for covertly buying public transportation systems around the country, converting them from electric trollies to diesel-burning/tire-using GM buses with guaranteed contracts for those companies, then running those public transport systems into the ground so that even more profitable individual cars could rule the landscape).  The documentary FLOW (For Love of Water) shows the manipulation of water supplies for profit.  Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price showcases several dubious action including unfair labor practices.  Etc., etc., etc.  Competition is good, but it has to be fair competition.

I found the documentary “The Corporation” very instructive as to what ails our current market structure.

winbert

How much of his $188 million should John Kerry hand over?
What percentage of their millions should millionaires Barack and Michelle Obama, Pelosi, Kerry, John Edwards, Gore, etc…hand over, as a matter of fairness?

What about Michael Moore?  Should he sell his mansion and give more to the poor (any?), should he have some of his millions shaved off to give to others?  Just how much money should he, or Susan Sarandon given from their millions?

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Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Democrat):

“It’s a free country; I wish it weren’t, but it’s a free country.” when speaking of a rally on the Capitol.

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