Wealth inequality in the U.S. is probably worse than you think it is.
A video made shortly after the 2012 election showing how much greater the disparity actually is, has gone viral in the last few days thanks to links from websites including Reddit and Mashable. First, it lays out what people see as ideal, a system in which wealthy Americans get a lot more but poor Americans are slightly above the poverty line.
Reality perhaps has the most shock value. As the narrator lays out in the video (uploaded by an unaffiliated, anonymous YouTube user), the top 1% has 40% of all the nation’s wealth, the bottom 80% only has 7% of it.
Given the political path we’re on, it seems far more likely that gap will grow, rather than shrink, in the coming months and years.
First, there’s the sequester, which will help make poor people poorer.
“There will be cuts to a wide range of services for the needy, analysis shows, including Meals on Wheels for seniors, nutrition assistance for mothers and children, rental help for low-income families and programs for the homeless,” according to a Washington Post report Monday. Our neediest Americans will be hit, including more than half a million women, infants and children, who could lose access to food by Sept. 30, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Meanwhile, corporate profits are skyrocketing. Take a look at the front page of the New York Times Monday— “Recovery in U.S. Is Lifting Profits, but Not Adding Jobs“—which shows how corporate earnings are up, but jobs for the little guy simply aren’t being created.
The report highlights the impact of the sequester, which experts estimate could cost the nation 700,000 jobs, but is expected to have little to no impact on Wall Street profits.
And as one economist points out, corporate earnings have risen by 20% a year since the end of 2008, but “disposable income” has grown by only 1.4% a year over the same period. “There hasn’t been a period in the last 50 years where these trends have been so pronounced,” he said.
Again, more money into the pockets of the wealthy with few indications it will trickle down to the rest of the country.
Of course, the Obama policy that could help to fix some of this, the one most Americans voiced their support for when they voted him back into office, has been stymied by Republicans. The party refuses to compromise on further tax increases after making small concessions in the fiscal cliff battle. Their uncompromising position stopped the president from getting the balanced deal he wanted—one with a little tax revenue, and more budget cuts—in this latest sequester debate.
The GOP also continues to block his appointments to jobs like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a group designed to help protect the little guy against corporations.