I watch the budget negotiations in Washington and wonder what planet these guys live on. It sure isn’t this one.

Before I proceed, it might help to point out that the big difference between wealthy nations and Third World nations is the size of their middle classes. Wealthy nations have big ones; Third World nations have a whole lot of poor people and a very few filthy rich people.


I have an unusual question for you.

To get at the question, we’re going to divide the American population into 20% chunks, which is to say fifths, in terms of wealth, top to bottom. So, Upper, Upper Middle, Middle, Lower Middle, and Lower.

Here’s the question itself:

What kind of wealth distribution would be so out there, so over the top, that for the sake of the economy's functioning, for the sake of preventing national unrest, and possibly even in the name of fairness, you’d be willing to say "Let's intervene, even if the government has to help redistribute wealth - this has gone too far" ? Who would have to have so much, who would have to have so little that we're beyond unfair and unworkable and into absurd?

There are some out there who would say: “No such thing. Intervention is wrong by definition.” Really? It would be OK for the top fifth to have 99% of America’s wealth while the other 4/5ths shared 1%? To believe that, you’d have to think of Free Enterprise as a religion and not, incidentally, a religion related to any mainstream Western religion I can think of. That certainly doesn’t reflect Jesus’ attitude toward wealth; quite the contrary. This is the guy who said “It would be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Islam mandates a fixed percentage of everyone’s income be donated to charity specifically to avoid differences in wealth producing dire consequences. Charitable giving is a big part of Judaism, and all three major religions have laws about ethical business conduct, charitable giving, and the avoidance of blatant exploitation.

So, “no such thing” may sound good but there probably aren’t too many Americans who believe it literally. The question isn’t whether intervention is by definition inappropriate, the question is how bad things have to get before we say Enough and intervene.

So, back to the question:

What kind of wealth distribution would be unequal enough to warrant intervention?

Consider your answer,

and, after you do, let me tell you where we are now:

The bottom 60% of the population has, collectively, under 5% of the nation's wealth.

Wait, it gets worse. Way, way worse.

The bottom 40% of the population has approximately 0.3% of the nation's wealth.

That's right, 2/5 population = 3/1,000 $.

Now, let's talk about Entitlements. The thing about entitlements is that reductions in entitlements spreads the burden over the population, but not over the money. At this point in our history, the population has nothing to do with the money, and money is the problem. Congress is operating under the myth that population and money are still linked.

In terms of the numbers, the Democrats are too close to Republicans because whatever they suggest even without Republican opposition still wouldn't be enough, but at least it would be a marginal move in the right direction.

No one is looking at these numbers. The argument the Republicans are making is this:

We need to protect the money of the top 40% of the population because

1. They earned it (BULLSH*T - many inherited it and the Government subsidized a great deal of it, basically welfare for the wealthy, but welfare is only welfare when the poor benefit, even though welfare for the rich is more expensive) and

2. They create jobs with it. Also Bullsh*t. Bush gave them a tax cut and they pocketed it instead of creating jobs with it. That's what Jobless Recovery means.

Really. We need to protect over 95% of America's wealth from the threats posed by the greedy 4.3%. That's what the Republican Party has come to.

Forgetting the fairness of this, and keep in mind that the Republicans think this is unfair, BUT IN THE OTHER DIRECTION, as in that the holders of the 4.3% are moochers,

How the Hell can America's businesses stay open when 40% of the population doesn't have any money?

We're looking at markets in China. The undeveloped market is here. What would Americans consume if the whole population were healthy?

Just so you know, I’ve written about these numbers before. The distribution across quintiles (fifths of the population, 20% blocks) is

Upper                        84%

Upper Middle        11%

Middle                        4%

Lower Middle      0.2%

Lower                     0.1%

Numbers from:

Building a Better America - One Wealth Quintile at a Time
By Michael Norton and Dan Arieli.


Views: 690

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 4, 2013 at 10:06am

Many exceedingly wealthy people were, of course, were simply born into it. Many, those who work in the top corps, get that way bc of the radically uneven manner in which we're taxed, and bc of how much of the 99%'s income goes to corporations in the form of tax breaks (someone pays taxes for those breaks; it's us.)

Comment by koshersalaami on January 4, 2013 at 10:10am

And that is exactly what I meant by welfare for the wealthy. Though, frankly, there's more involved than that, a lot more, like preference for legacies in Ivy League admissions.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 4, 2013 at 10:14am

The legacy preference is standard in nearly every college, inc. state universities.

Comment by Cranky Cuss on January 4, 2013 at 10:16am

In rebuttal, I give you the wisdom of the world's richest woman, who says the poor don't work hard enough. Please disregard the fact that she inherited her $30 billion:


Comment by Cranky Cuss on January 4, 2013 at 10:18am

(Since my link didn't work, here's the article):

Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here's the world's wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain," she said in a magazine piece. "Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."

Yeah, let them eat cake.

Rinehart made her money the old-fashioned way: She inherited it. Her family iron ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion makes her Australia's wealthiest person and the richest woman on the planet.

"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire," she said by way of encouragement.

"Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others."

Boom. Almost too easy.

Why are people poor? Rinehart blamed what she described as "socialist," anti-business government policies, and urged Australian officials to lower the minimum wage and cut taxes.

"The millionaires and billionaires who choose to invest in Australia are actually those who most help the poor and our young," she said. "This secret needs to be spread widely."

And now it's out there.

Thank you, rich people. We're not worthy.

Comment by Leepin Larry on January 4, 2013 at 10:38am

I'm a little confused by the numbers:

"The bottom 40% of the population has approximately 0.3% of the nation's wealth.

That's right, 2/5 population = 3/100 $"

Wouldn't that be .30 cents/100.00 ?

Comment by koshersalaami on January 4, 2013 at 10:40am

Funny you should say that, Larry.

As you were writing your comment, it occurred to me that I'd gotten that formula wrong and I was going in and editing it. It isn't 3%, it's 0.3%, which means it/s 3/1,000. I went in and corrected it. (Meaning it occurred to me before your comment posted.)

Comment by koshersalaami on January 4, 2013 at 10:41am


To Larry, Thank You.

To anyone who already read this, my numbers weren't extreme enough. The formula actually reads: 2/5 people = 3/1,000 $

Comment by Marlene Dunham on January 4, 2013 at 10:56am

Thanks for the education Kosh.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on January 4, 2013 at 11:03am

I was completely nodding in agreement with you until I got to this part:

"Really. We need to protect over 95% of America's wealth from the threats posed by the greedy 4.3%. That's what the Republican Party has come to."

Greed easily bridges political affiliation.   Avarice easily jumps party membership.

"A plurality of the population’s wealthiest 1 percent, 41 percent, say they are moderate in their political ideology, while 39 percent are conservative and 20 percent liberal. These percentages are similar to those found among the country’s 99 percent, where 40 percent call themselves conservative, 37 percent moderate and 21 percent liberal, Gallup said."

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/69776.html#ixzz2H1vVr0Bu


It's greedy, manipulative,  self-service, douches [ like McCaul (R), Issa(R), Kerry (D) & Rockefeller (D) ]who are complaining about paying more taxes and who are protecting their "hard earned" wealth...  

Just as it is manipulative control freaks that are promoting the redistribution of "OTHER PEOPLE'S  money and assets". (like Obama & Pelosi) while at the same time being fine with cutting grandma's social security and Medicare as part of their "Grand Bargain".

You can't just slam the Rethugliklans on this one.  The Dinocrats and the Tea Party has just as many self-serving douches.

Same goes for your comments about Xians, Jews and Muslims.  I'd dare say that the majority of 1% identify as one or the other of those. 

(and yeah...  I know you are going to delete this, but that doesn't mean that you aren't wrong)


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