This is like America's richest 1%, but with money instead of corn.
Imagine the wealthiest one percent of America as a single person. Obviously, he’s an old white guy. Now, picture Mr. Moneybags inside a bank vault that contains all the cash in the entire country and he’s using a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the money.
The vacuum cleaner is so big that he can’t run it all by himself, so nine of his closest friends are in the vault helping him capture the towering piles of cash stacking up all around them. The reason why the mountains of money keep getting bigger is because there are 90 people outside of the vault who keep bringing them money.
Since the 10 people running the vacuum cleaner already have more money than they could possibly ever spend, they use about a quarter of the money inside the vault to keep this nice little arrangement running smoothly. They make sure that the bank tellers get some benefits and that the security guards have enough to feed their families. Some of these tellers and guards are living pretty comfortably, so they don’t complain and do what they’re told… because they don’t want to be on the outside.
On the other side of the bank’s heavily guarded gates, there are 50 people – the rest of America. Most of them think that if they just keep working hard enough, they can get a job inside the bank, too. Some of these folks outside are too hungry or sick to even try. The rich guys know that maintaining this arrangement is a balancing act, so they don’t take money from the poorest outsiders – they just keep a steady trickle of small bills and pocket change flowing to help them survive for a while (but not so much that they won’t want to work “for themselves.”)
This is the America I see when I look at this graph:
The world is not a simple place. Our country’s vast and unequal distribution of wealth is not a conspiracy – it’s the result of many influences ranging from complicit corporate media to our “pay-to-play” democracy. Rich people are obviously not all amoral money-grubbers. “Upward mobility” – while increasingly difficult – is still more possible for America’s working class and poor than in many other parts of the world.
But, really – don’t you think we can do better than this?
These charts are from a collection called “15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America.” I would like to see people print out poster-sized versions of these charts and walk around Tea Party rallies with them. That way, when a Tea Partier starts screaming about how wealth is being redistributed, you can point to the sign and say, “Yes, the wealth of America is clearly being re-distributed. Which way do you think it’s going?”
*Note: I know that these figures are pre-Obama, but these trends have not changed significantly, and any “re-distribution” is certainly not of the radical, socialist variety that Glenn Beck is crying about.
Regarding my suggestion to confront Tea Partiers with the facts... don't even bother with clowns like this guy. There are lots of good folks out there who have been brainwashed by FoxNews and a little reality check could go a long way.