The Future of Inequality

You’ve all seen the charts on income equality in the US, right? Just in case you haven’t, they show basically flat income for all but the rich since the 1970s, with radically increased income for the rich and super-rich. Surprised? I doubt it.

I decided it might be useful to project the trend into the future.

Somewhere are exactly the figures I would like, but I had to settle for a chart that gave accurate figures only for the first and last points, which come via the Congressional Budget Office. The other two data points I estimated from the chart. They are more smooth than the chart showed, but they will do for purposes of illustration. You shouldn’t take these figures as accurate to the last dollar, but it doesn’t matter. What they show is shocking.

The chart below shows four data points for the top 1% income bracket, the middle 60%, and the bottom 20%, in constant dollars, starting in 1979. The last figures in the chart were for 2007. The lines are trendlines, or linear regression, to the year 2024.

 

The income changes for the middle 60% and bottom 20% are so subtle they look essentially flat, while the upper income bracket is headed skyward. In 2007, the richest 1% made 26 times the income of the middle 60%, 67 times what the bottom 20% made.

Even if these figures were wildly inaccurate, it is very easy to see the gross inequality of income in the US today.

In 2024, income for the middle 60% will be about the same as today, at about $50K, while income for the richest 1% will increase to about $2,300,000, or some 43 times what middle Americans will make, nearly 110 times what the bottom 20% will make.

This is what “Occupy” is all about. This is why every regular American should be steaming mad. This is why we have no real choice, we must be activists. This kind of inequality has no place in a democracy.

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