There are hundreds of charts like the one above, or something similar, floating around. They sometimes look different – some are circular charts, some are graphs, some are lines like this one. Some tell the story of wealth, some use income.
But they ALL tell the same story – the rich are getting MUCH richer and the poor are getting poorer. Especially since the 1980s.
And increasingly, the people in the middle, the traditional “middle class” – the class that built America – are dropping down to the bottom group.
Here are just a few observations about the financial imbalances that continue to haunt the USA,
The Greatest Financial Inequality in the Developed World, a level of inequality approaching some developing countries. (as measured by the Gini index)
Two families together – the Kochs and the Waltons – have the same wealth as the combined total wealth of the bottom 40% of all Americans.
Two American families have the same wealth as 128 million Americans!
Nearly 70% of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
How is this possible in such a supposedly wealthy and free nation?
34% of Americans have no savings AT ALL (2016 figures).
In 2019, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, America’s billionaires added $500 billion to their wealth in a single year.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg increased his wealth by $27.3 billion in 2019 while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates added $22.7 billion. Covid 19 only increased the rates of wealth creation whilst many people and small business struggled.
And, at the same time, 40 million Americans need food stamps.
There are 750,000 homeless people in America on any given night.
There are more black 17 year old men in prison than in college.
Inequality is a global problem but, like many things, it is very bad in the United States. Some might even claim that the neo-liberal economics which took over the world since the 1980s, starting with Reaganomics and spreading outwards, has been a major cause of the dramatic increases in inequality.
Whatever the causes, growing inequality is not sustainable and we must address the issue by becoming familiar with the causes.
For much more detailed information about all types of inequality in America see this Stanford site,