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It’s The Inequality, Stupid, By Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot


A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

The richest controls 2/3 of America's net worth

Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn’t reflect the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%, in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.

Winners Take All

The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades’ gains.

Aevrage Household income before taxes.

Out of Balance

A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

Capitol Gain

Why Washington is closer to Wall Street than Main Street.

median net worth of american families, median net worth for mebers of congress, your odds of being a millionaire, member of congress's odds of being a millionaire
member max. est. net worth
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) $451.1 million
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) $435.4 million
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) $366.2 million
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $294.9 million
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) $285.1 million
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) $283.1 million
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) $231.2 million
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $201.5 million
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $136.2 million
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $108.1 million
combined net worth: $2.8 billion

10 Richest Members of Congress 100% Voted to extend the cutsCongressional data from 2009. Family net worth data from 2007. Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; US Census; Edward Wolff, Bard College.

Who’s Winning?

For a healthy few, it’s getting better all the time.

Gains and Losses in 2007-2009, Average CEO Pay vs. Average Worker Pay
A millionaire's atx rate, now and then. Share of Federal Tax revenue


How much income have you given up for the top 1 percent?



Income distribution: Emmanuel Saez [1] (Excel)

Net worth: Edward Wolff [2] (PDF)

Household income/income share: Congressional Budget Office [3]

Real vs. desired distribution of wealth: Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely [4] (PDF)

Net worth of Americans vs. Congress: Federal Reserve [5] (average); Center for Responsive Politics [6] (Congress)

Your chances of being a millionaire: Calculation based on data from Wolff [2] (PDF); US Census (household [7] and population [8] data)  

Member of Congress’ chances: Center for Responsive Politics [9]

Wealthiest members of Congress: Center for Responsive Politics [10]

Tax cut votes: New York Times (Senate [11]; House [12])

Wall street profits, 2007-2009: New York State Comptroller [13] (PDF)

Unemployment rate, 2007-2009: Bureau of Labor Statistics [14]

Home equity, 2007-2009: Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds data, 1995-2004 [15] and 2005-2009 [16] (PDFs)

CEO vs. worker pay: Economic Policy Institute [17]

Historic tax rates: Calculations based on data from The Tax Foundation [18]

Federal tax revenue: Joint Committee on Taxation [19] (PDF)Read also: Kevin Drum on the decline of Big Labor, the rise of Big Business, and why the Obama era fizzled so soon. [20]

More Mother Jones charty goodness: How the rich get richer [21]; how the poor get poorer [22]; who owns Congress? [23]

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5 comments to It’s The Inequality, Stupid, By Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot

  • Leon Night

    What makes the US Government think that this struggling majority of Americans, with all the guns they own, won’t turn on their leaders in revolt at some point? It’s not a question of “if” it is now only a question of “when”. And if the Arab nations are any example, it’s gonna come swift and hard.

  • Zoli

    Sorry to disapoint you Leon Night, but i do not expect any such thing to happen. Just take a look at all the poor folks who are being dooped into suporting laise fair capitalist organizations like the Tea Party. They actually want all stops to be removed by the government, so the elites can go full throtle in their bid to exploit the poor to the maximum. In efect the poor are revolting, but revolting against the very measures meant to protect them.

  • […] And oh yes, in the U.S. the disparity of wealth between the rich and the rest has never been greater. […]

  • roger

    The American voter has a history of
    voting against his/her interest,
    nowhere else in this world has
    advertising worked so well and
    propaganda been so effective.
    Power corrupts and wealth promotes

  • Leon Night

    Hi, Zoli.
    You responded by saying “the poor are revolting, but revolting against the very measures meant to protect them.”

    True… So, if the Tea Party is successful in getting “all stops to be removed by the government, so the elites can go full throtle in their bid to exploit the poor to the maximum”, then the divide between rich and poor will grow, and–as I said–the poor will turn on their leaders in revolt.

    You have simply indicated an interim step toward the ultimate collapse. When the poor, who have made matters worse due to their own ignorance, get even poorer… BOOM!

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