Income Inequality: Startlingly Bad!

A recent study by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston for Tax Analysts has found that income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans rose by just $59.00 over the last four decades (1966 to 2011), when adjusted for inflation, reports the Huffington Post.

In the meantime, the top ten percent’s income rose by $116,071, also adjusted for inflation.

Welcome to the Greatest Gilded Age my friend. The middle class continues to merge with the lower class to form a single large peasant class. Perhaps the wealthy will tip you nicely if you learn to touch your hat and say “m’lord!” when you see them!

And do not expect the Democrats to help you any more than the Republicans will, particularly the Obama administration. All but a few Democrats are just as owned by Wall Street as the Republicans.

Hey, but look at that dog with a fluffy tail … I mean, gay marriage!

While I emotionally agree with you, I have to say that as far as a debate topic goes the next question is certainly… so what?

Intuitively, I’m quite certain that income inequality is a Bad Thing, but my (and your) intuition don’t necessarily make it so.

Then you must not have read that last paragraph in the Huffpo piece:

I was thinking about this the other day: if growth in income were more evenly spread among the whole population, how much would the average person really benefit? For example, let’s say over a given period that the income of the top 1% doubled, but for the bottom 80%, income grew by 10% (or whatever). If the gummit took the extraordinary step of seizing all the “excessive” growth in the incomes of the ultra-rich, and limited their income growth to the same rate as the average family, then redistributed all the seized money to everyone else, how much of a difference would that make? Would I get an extra $50 a year, or $15,000 a year?

I truly have no idea, but I’m curious how the math would work out.

What’s so magical about the year 1966? I mean, what an odd year to pick as the baseline?

Hint: Go to the source data, and you’ll see that the numbers would have looked much better if he had chosen almost any other year as the baseline.

Not sure what point you are trying to make here, John. Is it “It’s not really that bad!” or “It’s not really bad at all!”?

Is this some kind of Easter egg hunt for the source data? There’s about 60 links I could follow on the page, everything from Powerpoint-looking charts to Katy Perry showing John Meyer what he’s missing.

Remember that percentiles are not people. Every year the top 10% is made up of a different group of people.

John’s point is that you can show any number of different apparent trends by choosing the endpoints carefully. 1966 was probably the year where the bottom 10 percent had the highest relative income (or top 10 percent had the lowest).

I remember learning this when comparing stocks. Taking any two even remotely comparable stocks, you could make either one look better than the other, depending on the buy and sell dates.

I’m interested in the question here: is the current income distribution in the US today really extreme? Detrimental? It’s not an easy question to answer. My gut says the answer is Yes, but my gut is a really bad statistition. But a quick stat like the OP’s doesn’t necessarily shed much light: it can shed more light on the point of view of the reporter than on the subject.

It would be interesting to O’Reilly’s team prepare a summary of the same data. I bet it would paint a different picture.

Suppose the endpoint had been set at 1960 or 1970 or 1980. Does anyone seriously argue that the income disparity would be extremely different? I’m just not buying it? So long as the endpoint is the present the disparity is still gonna range from FUCKING huge, to LUDICROUSLY huge. Suppose it were $57 vs. 90,000. So what?

Sorry. I found this link right away, but maybe I was lucky.

For those wondering, I question the motives of someone who intentionally frames the debate by picking some arbitrary reference point that just so happens to be the worst possible reference point there is. Like I said, what was so magical about 1966 other than blacks and whites couldn’t marry in some states and women were still de facto barred from certain professions?

Wow. In no particular order:
[ul][li] When measuring a hill, one starts at the top of the hill. This shouldn’t be hard to understand.[/li][li] The special motive, if any, was to depict the sharp change. That you need to “question” this obvious motive raises questions about you.[/li][li] Eye-balling the linked graph, it looks like 1970 or 1980 could have been chosen as the starting point, for a stronger “magic” effect. In any case, the “big picture” is that the long period 1952-1980 was, relatively, almost an unchanging plateau.[/li][li] Rising inequality in U.S.A. is clearly a problem; attempts to obfuscate it tell us more about the obfuscator than the problem.[/li][/ul]

In the same order:

  • The bottom of the hill is arbitrary, and there is nothing magic about 1966.
  • Yes, it tells that I question the motive/objectivity of someone who cherry picks his data. You should, too.
  • Then maybe we should ask why those ~25 years were so unusual. Perhaps they are the outlier, not the rest of time.
  • Rising inequality is not clearly a problem. Rich people getting richer doesn’t make other people poorer.

I suspect only the last one matters to you, as no matter how much you protest, you can’t actually argue that inequality is not rising.

As to your last argument, it’s just not true. Inequality- especially when paired with it’s buddy “poor social mobility”- is well documented to lead to all kinds of social problems.

Ok, so, assuming I’m getting this, the claim here is that between 1966 and 2013 the average income for the bottom 90% of Americans in adjusted dollars rose only $59/year? And, well, people are buying that based on the article provided in the OP? Seriously? Does anyone here have any data to back that incredible assertion up with? I mean, a quick google search shows this chart on Wiki, which seems to clearly debunk that claim, assuming I’m understanding what’s being asserted through the mists of horseshit hyperbole in the OP.

Clearly, The Rich™ have gotten richer in the US over that period…substantially so. No question there. But come on guys…even a cursory look around shows that the bottom 90%(!!) of Americans haven’t stagnated and remained at 1966 levels of income, either in absolute or in real purchasing power terms.

So, can we see some data (from a non-Huffington source…I realize that many here see that as unbiased, but to my mind I could just as easily ‘debunk’ this by posting something from Fox) to back this up with? Something solid showing that, in fact Americans in the bottom 90% have indeed only increased their income (even using weasel-like terms such as in the linked article from the OP) by $59 over that period of time??

And, by the by and wtf, 'dopers?

My emphasis…Does this level of horseshit really get a pass because you vaguely agree with the OP that income inequality is a bad thing??

XT, here is a link on a shorter time frame that shows the not-rich are losing wealth.

We live in interesting times, that’s for sure. The increase in the wages for the rich doesn’t help the economy because the rich are less likely to spend the increase and more likely to invest or save. The latter is even worse because that sizable portion of money is out of economic circulation, thus contributing to inflation. However, since the poor and, increasingly, the middle-class are living check-to-check, this means it’s these individuals are contributing to a robust multiplier effect which is the engine of any self-sustaining economy.

The rise of a permanent rich class distorts the this engine by forcing the government to pump more money into the economy, thus increasing inflation. You can see the inflation around us now around now. Food, gas, clothes, healthcare is more expensive than it’s ever been yet wages have been stagnant for everyone but the rich. Why is that? It must be that rich people work harder than the rest of us. Right?

You’re wrong.

In the US, what are these well documented problems?

Nitpick: The bottom of a hill is the lowest point one would have to journey from the hilltop to reach a taller hill. I learned that a few months ago. Thought I’d share. :wink:

Indeed, they’re now $59 richer after already considering inflation.

No one ever says it has anything to do with how hard someone works. It has to do with 1) how much risk they took, and 2) how intelligent they were with their efforts.

Actually income mobility in the US is very low relative to other first world countries. There’s some muddling around the edges of any of those brackets and, of course, there’s the occasional exception (up and down), but for the most part the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor, and the middle stays the middle.