Thursday, September 23, 2010

Money Talks

I've been really avoiding the Huffington Post's main headlines lately. There's just too much fear mongering and blinking red graphics and bullshit. But today's headline caught my eye and I think its a really important topic that not enough people know about.

A new study has been released titled "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile At A Time" by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School. The study shows that across all ideological belief systems, economic standings, and gender groups there is a huge misunderstanding in the amount of wealth that the wealthiest control. American's believe that the top 20% wealthiest citizens control about 59% of the wealth. We believe this universally whether we are rich or poor or inbetween. Yet actually the richest 20% control more like 84% of the wealth.

Even more interesting was that most Americans believed that the top 20% should be controlling about 32% of the wealth. This is the percentage that exists in Sweden.

"The respondents were presented with unlabeled pie charts representing the wealth distributions of the U.S., where the richest 20 percent controlled about 84 percent of wealth, and Sweden, where the top 20 percent only controlled 36 percent of wealth. Without knowing which country they were picking, 92 percent of respondents said they'd rather live in a country with Sweden's wealth distribution."

The division between classes is getting larger and larger. As Forbes pointed out recently the 400 richest Americans got richer last year while the rest of us struggled to stay employed. I just realized that if the top 20% have 84% of the wealth than the other 80% of American people have 16% of the wealth. That does not look good and it really doesn't feel good. You know what we can do about that. We could have a more progressive tax system. Obama's opposition to tax cuts for those making over 250,000 a year is one of the best things he's done. Without this we're still going to be fighting for jobs and clinging to that 16% of the wealth.

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