We love good infographics here at Occasional Planet because they help us see patterns that escaped our awareness, and understand and digest information. Here’s an important and timely video/infographic that shows the staggering extent of wealth inequality in the United States. Timely because president Obama and his fellow corporate Democrats, along with austerity-obsessed Republicans, are using the “Sequester” to force a “Grand Bargain” that will further increase wealth and income inequality in America. Who is the Sequester designed to force? Progressive Democrats who are against cutting Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and, for once, may have a spine. Call them and give them your support.
The video/infographic uses statistics from Mother Jones, Think Progress and CNN Money to form a graphic presentation of the current wealth distribution in America. Here are some of the facts revealed:
• 1% of America owns 40% of all the nations wealth
• The Bottom 80% owns only 7% of the wealth
• The richest 1% earns 24% of the national income.
• The top 1% owns 50% of the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
• The bottom 50% own .5% (half a percent) of investments.
The video reports on a Harvard study that asked 5,000 Americans to estimate current income distribution in the United States. The outcome: 92% wildly underestimated the extent of wealth inequality. How can that be? In a nutshell, information about wealth inequality is not covered in the news media and hidden in most political discourse. Corporate owned media and corporate owned politicians benefit financially by keeping us in the dark about the extent of wealth transfer upward. Wealth inequality didn’t happen on its own. Corporate owned politicians in both parties, at the national, state and local level, have written thousands of laws that facilitate wealth inequality. Corporate owned media gives us a partisan Punch and Judy show that distracts us from understanding the extent of this wealth transfer. Politicians are motivated to keep the wealthy and their thousands of lobbyists happy—as payback for campaign contributions, or in hopes of lucrative employment when they leave office,
What would happen if the majority of Americans really understood the extent of wealth and income inequality and the roll of government in enabling it? For starters I can think of two things: A widespread national “waking up to reality” would throw the truth of federal, state and local government into high relief, making it shockingly clear that government doesn’t represent the majority of Americans. The current crop of politicians of both parties would lose their jobs. Second, it would expose the journalistic malpractice of a news media that fails to report on the growing and pernicious influence of corporations (and their billionaire owners) over government and economic life. What the video reveals: Right now, the economic reality in the country is much worse than most Americans think it is. The good news: It has over 4.5 million hits on Youtube.