Nine out of ten Americans have a perception that wealth distribution in America is skewed unfairly toward the top 10% richest people. They believe that the rich control about one hundred times more wealth than the poorest Americans.
Looking at what the wealthy can do that the rest of us can’t — castle-sized mansions, private jets, even slipping out from under criminal prosecution — that perception might seem accurate.
According to this set of info-graphics, which compiles information from sources like CNN, Mother Jones, and Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the actual figures show just how fuzzy our perceptions really are.
The reality is that over the last thirty years, the United States has seen the wealth of its top 10% skyrocket, placing it among countries like Mozambique, Angola, and Swaziland. Countries that grew out of the crushing tyranny of colonialism, where the resource wealth was placed in the hands of a privileged few.
The top 20% of Americans control 93% of the 54-trillion-dollar American economy. The top 1% of Americans control 40% of the total GDP.
Even Greece and Italy, with their shattered economies and rampant corruption, have more equitable wealth distribution.
Ask most Americans if they think that letting the top 10% line their pockets with thousands of times more cash than the poorest makes for a stronger country they’ll disagree.
Yet, getting Congress to nudge the tax rate upward even 1% on the wealthiest Americans seems like an impossible feat.
Maybe there’s something motivating them that’s stronger than the will of the people.