What are the implications of this picture?
I am not an economist, but then again, most likely you aren’t either. On the other hand, the economy affects you and me, so we need to come to grips with these issues to participate intelligently in the political process. There needs to be a genuine national dialog on these issues at all levels.
The L-Curve graph represents income, not wealth. The distribution of wealth is even more skewed. Quoting from a recently-published book by political philosopher David Schweickart,
|If we divided the income of the US into thirds, we find that the top ten percent of the population gets a third, the next thirty percent gets another third, and the bottom sixty percent get the last third. If we divide the wealth of the US into thirds, we find that the top one percent own a third, the next nine percent own another third, and the bottom ninety percent claim the rest. (Actually, these percentages, true a decade ago, are now out of date. The top one percent are now estimated to own between forty and fifty percent of the nation’s wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 95%.)
Think of the L-Curve when you read your daily news [I hope you do READ your daily news rather than rely on the TV infotainment that masquerades as news]. What are its implications for tax structures, campaign finance reform, the policies of the IMF, the WTO, and the World Bank, abandonment of inner cities, factory closings, sweatshop labor, “guest worker” programs, US foreign policy, why we go to war, etc. How does welfare for the poor stack up against corporate welfare?
Should the goal be to get motivated and get yourself onto the vertical spike? [Some people who have responded to this site see it this way, but I think that misses the point.] I saw a bumper sticker recently that says it best for me:
Our economy produces tremendous wealth but it also produces tremendous poverty. Sure, some people can be lazy, but when large numbers of hard working people live in poverty and the middle class is shrinking, it is a systemic, not an individual problem. There is plenty to go around, but it doesn’t adequately go around. It goes to the top, and leaves the masses to fight over the crumbs. (If you are mathematically inclined, check out a recent study of the income distribution that identifies two distinct income classes in the US with different mathematical bahavior.) True, it has been this way through the ages, but that doesn’t mean we should be satisfied with such a system. I believe we can do better…
More at L-Curve website here