Monday, August 17, 2009

Richman Poorman

Concentration of wealth in hands of rich greatest on record. By Daniel Tencer.

Once upon a time I had a gut reaction to statements such as above - then I looked closer for myself at wealth, income, concentration, statistics.

Mr. Tencer says: "The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans now have a larger share of total income than they ever have in records going back nearly a century — an even larger amount than during the Roaring Twenties, the last time the US saw such similar disparities in wealth. In recent years, the fact that differences between rich and poor are the greatest they’ve been since the Great Depression has become a popular talking point among liberal-leaning economists. But an updated study from University of California-Berkeley economist Emanuel Saez shows that, in 2007, the wealth disparity grew to its highest number on record, based on US tax data going back to 1917. According to Saez’s study, which Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman drew attention to at his New York Times blog, the top 10 percent of earners in America now receive nearly 50 percent of all the income earned in the United States, a higher percentage than they did during the 1920s."

--- "Income" and "wealth" are two different animals, although related. Income is what is coming in, wealth is what you own minus debts. You may have a great deal of wealth and very little income. Or you may blow all of a good income and own little.

So my little chickadees - can you list the "top 10 percent of earners" who receive nearly "50 percent of all income earned in the United States" ? And tell me how many are top earners, 1000? 100,000? A million, or more?

And exactly who is making these top "earners" so tops? Would that be us bottomfeeders who buy their products? Buy the tickets to their concerts, their sports, their movies? I guess Russell Peters ($10M last year), Jeff Foxworthy, and Jerry Seinfeld ($85M) really are a million laughs.

But, no joke folks : In 2008 to break into the top 1 percent, a tax return had to have an AGI of $410,096 or more. In 2006 one only had to make $156,000 to be included in the top 5% earners club. The top 10% of earners Krugman drew attention to is anyone with an AGI of $113,000.

To be in the top 1-10% you might be a professor, author, salesman, musician, restaurant owner/manager, doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, celebrity, sports figure, politician, business administrator, retail manager, ice cream maker, farmer, small time contractor, mid size anything, daycare owner, franchise owner, car dealer, glorified secretary, animal breeder, dog trainer, lottery winner, pet rock man, porn star, call girl, gambler, conman, drug dealer, or Indian chief. You may need to be a 2-income family to join the top 10 percenters club - but the club is not exactly the tiny evil group of fatcats the "progressive" folks would have you believe is crushing you beneath the weight of their wealthy feet. You, and others you know, may be members in the 10% club, and worked for and deserve every dime of it.

So, what do these "disparity" figures, a consistent talking point for the democrats and "left," really mean? Could the repuglicans be right? Do too many Americans now believe they are constitutionally entitled to a nice slice of someone else's hard-earned pie?

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