While I was in college, I used to frequent a place called Gourmet Haven, where I’d run to grab a snack or drink now and again. I almost never carried cash, so I’d hit the ATM and inevitably, catch someone’s receipt they left in the machine.
I still can’t imagine being in my 20s, let alone in college, and having a balance that high. Mine looked more like $60, soon to be $38 once I took out $20 and paid the $2 fee.
Using the ATM on an elite college campus was a constant reminder of the distribution of wealth in America. I never felt poor, but I knew I wasn’t rich. And actually, something tells me that even rich people don’t feel rich. There was that New York Times article a few years ago that described how challenging it is to live in New York City on $500,000. You have to pay for your nanny, private schools, your mortgage, your co-op maintenance fee, and that doesn’t even get to any other bills you’ve acquired or taxes for that matter.
So even people who make a half a million dollars a year are struggling to make ends meet (depending on where they live), and might even be doing the whole check-to-check thing the rest of us do. (Shout out to all the people working the 9 to 5 just to stay alive.)
But do we even really understand how much money the wealthiest Americans have than all the rest of us? Over the last few years there’s been a lot of chatter about “The 1%,” these ultra rich boogeymen who finance presidential campaigns and take supersonic private jets with panoramic glass windows. But the phrase is so bastardized now that I don’t think anyone knows what it means, what the implications of “The 1%” really look like.
This video compares what Americans think the distribution of wealth in America is to what the actual distribution of wealth looks like.
1% of the country owns 40% of the wealth.
The top 1% owns half the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
The average CEO makes 380 times more than his average employees. He makes so much money that the average worker would need to work more than a month to make what the average CEO makes in one hour.
Uh, so here’s what all that looks like:
Basically the top 10% of people are SO MUCH RICHER than “Rich People,” not to mention all the rest of us. The richest people can’t even fit on the graph.
Once you wrap your brain around the implications of all this, do you think there’s anything we can or should do to correct this inequality? Tell us what you think in the comments.