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It's the Inequality, Stupid : Eleven charts that explain everything that's wrong with America.

Plutocracy Now

It's the Inequality, Stupid

Eleven charts that explain everything that's wrong with America.

How Rich Are the Superrich?

A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

The richest controls 2/3 of America's net worth

Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn't reflect the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%, in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.

Winners Take All

The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades' gains.

Aevrage Household income before taxes.

Out of Balance

A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

Capitol Gain

Why Washington is closer to Wall Street than Main Street.

median net worth of american families, median net worth for mebers of congress, your odds of being a millionaire, member of congress's odds of being a millionaire
member max. est. net worth
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) $451.1 million
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) $435.4 million
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) $366.2 million
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $294.9 million
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) $285.1 million
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) $283.1 million
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) $231.2 million
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $201.5 million
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $136.2 million
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $108.1 million
combined net worth: $2.8 billion
10 Richest Members of Congress 100% Voted to extend the cuts

Congressional data from 2009. Family net worth data from 2007. Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; US Census; Edward Wolff, Bard College.

Who's Winning?

For a healthy few, it's getting better all the time.

Gains and Losses in 2007-2009, Average CEO Pay vs. Average Worker Pay

A millionaire's atx rate, now and then. Share of Federal Tax revenue


How much income have you given up for the top 1 percent?



Income distribution: Emmanuel Saez (Excel)

Net worth: Edward Wolff (PDF)

Household income/income share: Congressional Budget Office

Real vs. desired distribution of wealth: Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely (PDF)

Net worth of Americans vs. Congress: Federal Reserve (average); Center for Responsive Politics (Congress)

Your chances of being a millionaire: Calculation based on data from Wolff (PDF); US Census (household and population data)  

Member of Congress' chances: Center for Responsive Politics

Wealthiest members of Congress: Center for Responsive Politics

Tax cut votes: New York Times (Senate; House)

Wall street profits, 2007-2009: New York State Comptroller (PDF)

Unemployment rate, 2007-2009: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Home equity, 2007-2009: Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds data, 1995-2004 and 2005-2009 (PDFs)

CEO vs. worker pay: Economic Policy Institute

Historic tax rates: Calculations based on data from The Tax Foundation

Federal tax revenue: Joint Committee on Taxation (PDF)

Read also: Kevin Drum on the decline of Big Labor, the rise of Big Business, a...

More Mother Jones charty goodness: How the rich get richer; how the poor get poorer; who owns Congress?

Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Get Dave Gilson's RSS feed.

Views: 10

Comment by SydTheSkeptic on March 10, 2011 at 11:42am


This makes me sick.

We're supposed to be the government, but civilians are so duped by big-money media, they have no clue they're acting or voting against their own interests (and the interests of their children and their children).


A politician (regardless of party) has to play it so that they say just the right things in order to get the vote of their party base, but once they're in, they're indebted to the highest bidder- no matter what.  They work against the voters and they dance around all the backroom deal-making that actually keeps them in office regardless of how destructive their policies are to their constituents.


It's sick.  The weakest in society pay the highest price, and that seems to be okay with a lot of folks. 

Comment by lima on March 10, 2011 at 11:45am
we need to overthrow our government
Comment by Pypermarru1 on March 11, 2011 at 12:49pm
I think the average person would be surprised at the list of Richest members of congress.
Comment by photo2010 on March 12, 2011 at 4:23am
I also feel sick and angry about the inequality in distribution of wealth in this country. That is one of the reasons I like seeing the working people of Wisconsin fighting back. The lobbying of Congress has to stop. I am living on SSDI. I am getting MY OWN MONEY back that i paid out of my wages after thirty years of working until I couldn't work anymore. Our government would like the public to think we're all getting an 'entitlement' That's BULLSHIT! Those of us on SSDI  (Social Security Disability) are getting  our own money back, and it's about 40 percent of what I made when I was working. I am also using up the little savings I have. I will most probably have nothing left by the time I reach 65.
Comment by Chig on March 14, 2011 at 4:13pm

*sigh*   revolutions are a redistribution of wealth.... followed by the same problems.



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