Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The L-Curve

HERE is a good way to visualize the amount of income that the top 1% is bringing in:


A football field. Incomes are represented by stacks of 100-dollar bills.

Median income at the 50-yard line is a stack 1.6 inches high.

The family at the 95-yard line has a stack 4 inches high.

At the 99-yard line the stack is a foot high.At the 1-foot line the stack is 40 inches high.

Then, suddenly, as you get to the top few the stack grows to 30km.And this is an old site - the numbers are much more concentrated today.

The L-Curve graph represents income, not wealth. The distribution of wealth is even more skewed. Quoting from a recently-published book by political philosopher David Schweickart:

If we divided the income of the US into thirds, we find that the top ten percent of the population gets a third, the next thirty percent gets another third, and the bottom sixty percent get the last third.

If we divide the wealth of the US into thirds, we find that the top one percent own a third, the next nine percent own another third, and the bottom ninety percent claim the rest. (Actually, these percentages, true a decade ago, are now out of date.

The top one percent are now estimated to own between forty and fifty percent of the nation's wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 95%.)

If you are not outraged, you're not paying attention!

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