wealth distribution

That isn’t to say that Americans don’t believe that economic inequality has increased. A Gallup poll from April found that 63 percent of Americans believed that the distribution of wealth in the country is unfair. And a Washington Postpoll from this summer found that 68 percent of respondents believe that the current economic system favors the wealthy. These polls indicate that the general population is aware that income is unevenly distributed in this country. Even so, most view themselves on the more fortunate side of the imbalance—but they’re wrong.

Not only are most people earning well below what they should be (if wages had kept up with inflation, productivity, and the pay increases of the top 1 percent of earners)—but most “middle class” people get the short end of the stick on taxes, home prices, education, and every other facet of wealth and access. If Americans knew the comforts of being as wealthy—like Trump and Bush do—perhaps more people would consider themselves “have nots” and be much more skeptical when those politicians make promises about economic growth.

Data suggest a majority of Americans believe they’re on the right side of the income gap divide. They are mistaken

Spent my lunch break here in Berlin reading this fascinating IMF report about income inequality and wealth distribution around the world. The argument here is that governments need to focus on their poorest 20% of citizens in order to create lasting economic growth and social stability. The report also argues strongly that contrary to popular belief, the rising tide of increased wealth/income for the richest does not in fact help the poor much if at all.

It’s really fascinating reading. Highly recommended.


My first time participating in blackout day. Growing up mixed was always strange for me when I was younger. I didn’t know how to identify. My mom is Portuguese, Italian, and Irish and my dad is Hawaiian and African American but culturally more Hawaiian. My dad lives in Hawaii so I was mostly raised by my white mother’s side of the family in a wealthy white community. The majority of everyone around me was white. I grew up thinking it was strange I looked so unique compared to everyone in my family. My mom exposed me to as much of the missing piece of my identity as she could and I’m grateful for that.

98% of my friends growing up were Caucasian. My friends in high school always used to say, “Gianna. You’re not even black.” Because I didn’t fit into their stereotype of how someone “black” should act. I didn’t blame them for making those ignorant remarks because we all grew up in a significantly wealthy place called Alameda, CA next to Oakland, CA, where it’s hard not to notice the racial and wealth inequality between people of minorities and people of white privilege. Oakland is in a state of crisis. All they knew about black culture was from music, the media and driving from some of our 900,000+ dollar homes in alameda, locking their doors through the hood in Oakland (and seeing all the social/racial inequality, and wealth division) to go up into the Berkeley hills to our friends million dollar houses.

It took me a long time to make the effort to try and learn about the one piece of my identity that has always felt to be missing. And I’m still on that journey.


Infographic: Scenes From The Censored Documentary

Gif 1:

Mobility in the United States lags most other advanced industrial democracies.

Gif 2:

“There’s always been a gap between the wealthiest in our society and everyone else. But in the last 30 years, something changed. That gap became the Grand Canyon.

Gif 3:

“This is what America’s economic pie looked like in the decades after World War ll (1947-1977). Income gains were share by everyone with big portions going to average Americans. But since the late 1970’s, the bottom 90% have seen their share of the pie completely devoured by the top 1%.

Video Source: Park Avenue: Money, Power and The American Dream

By 2016, more than half of the world’s wealth will be owned by the 1% 

The rich keep getting richer.

More than half the world’s wealth will be owned by just 1% of the population by 2016 as wealth inequality soars, international anti-poverty charity Oxfam announced Monday in a report.

Released ahead of this week’s annual meeting of global political and economic elites in Davos, Switzerland, the report says the top tier had seen their share of wealth increase from 44% in 2009 to 48% percent in 2014, on track to exceed 50% percent in 2016.

“Do we really want to live in a world where the 1% own more than the rest of us combined?”

Study finds 7 of the top 30 U.S. companies pay their CEOs more than they pay the government in taxes
Everyone except corporations and the politicians they own seem to realize we need corporate tax reform. To that end, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government have put together a study about corporate tax practices and realities—and it is a doozy:

Of America’s 30 largest corporations, seven paid their CEOs more last year than they paid in federal income taxes, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government. The report, Fleecing Uncle Sam, also looks at the 100 highest-paid CEOs in 2013, finding that 29 received more in pay than their company paid in federal income taxes – up from 25 out of the top 100 in our 2010 and 2011 surveys. These 29 companies operate 237 subsidiaries in tax havens.

Opponents of corporate tax reform point out the United States’ high corporate tax rate (35%) but frequently forget to mention the fact that, with all their evasive maneuvering and tax loophole lobbying, corporations have paid about 19.9% in taxes between 2008-2012. And they don’t create wealth for anyone but themselves:

Corporate stock repurchases have the effect of boosting earnings per share. Higher earnings per share in turn boost stock prices. And since CEO pay is largely dependent on stock price, this pathway leads to soaring levels of CEO pay, even while average worker pay continues to stagnate. Merging with competitors also boosts corporate profits, but rather than leading to more jobs, mergers commonly lead to layoffs as redundant employees are cast off and join the army of unemployed Americans facing an uncertain future. Corporations have also fought for – and won – lucrative loopholes and tax credits that have taxpayers picking up the normal costs of business that corporations used to pay for themselves.

The study is damning. It is everything you imagine it is. You can read some of the infuriating highlights below:

Of America’s 30 largest corporations, seven (23 percent) paid their CEOs more than they paid in federal income taxes last year.

  • All seven of these firms were highly profitable, collectively reporting more than $74 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits. However, they received a combined total of $1.9 billion in refunds from the IRS, giving them an effective tax rate of negative 2.5 percent.
  • The seven CEOs leading these tax-dodging corporations were paid $17.3 million on average in 2013. Boeing and Ford Motors both paid their CEOs more than $23 million last year while receiving large tax refunds.
  • Of America’s 100 highest-paid CEOs, 29 received more in pay last year than their company paid in federal income taxes – up from 25 out of the top 100 in our 2010 and 2011 surveys.
  • Together, these 29 CEOs made nearly $1 billion last year, or $32 million on average. Their corporations reported $24 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits and yet, as a group, claimed $238 million in tax refunds, an effective tax rate of negative one percent.
  • Combined, the 29 companies operate 237 subsidiaries in tax havens. The company with the most subsidiaries in tax havens was Abbott Laboratories, with 79. The pharmaceutical firm’s CEO paycheck was $4 million larger than its IRS bill in 2013.
  • Of the 29 firms, only 12 reported U.S. losses in 2013. At these 12 unprofitable firms, CEO pay averaged $36.6 million—more than three times the $11.7 million national average for large company CEOs.
  • The company that received the largest tax refund was Citigroup, which owes its existence to taxpayer bailouts. In 2013, Citi paid its CEO $18 million while pocketing an IRS refund of $260 million.
  • Three firms have made the list in all three years surveyed. Boeing, Chesapeake Energy, and Ford Motors paid their CEO more than Uncle Sam in 2010, 2011, and 2013.


For many New Zealanders in the lowest 50 per cent, the picture is not one of wealth but of debt: the 200,000 poorest (in wealth terms) owe a combined total of $4.7 billion. No one in the poorest fifth of New Zealand owns more than $6000 in assets. The typical household has a net worth of just under $70,000. Between them, the entire lower half of the country’s adults, some 1.45 million people, own just 5 per cent of all wealth, around $23 billion. In other words, the wealthiest 1 per cent of New Zealanders together own three times as much as is owned collectively by the poorest 50 per cent of the population
—  Max Rashbrooke: “Inequality and New Zealand”, Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, ed. Max Rashbrooke, 22.

The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were advising their investors on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.

This idea is sometimes made quite overt. So when Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health.

At the time, everyone regarded Greenspan’s comment as very reasonable, judging by the lack of reaction and the great acclaim he enjoyed.


Rising income inequality is getting more difficult to ignore. Inequality.is, an interactive website, walks you through the problem (and helps give you ideas about the solution).

American politics are dominated by those with money. As such, America’s tax debate is dominated by voices that insist the rich are unduly persecuted by high taxes and that low-income folks are living the high life. Indeed, a new survey by the Pew Research Center recently found that the most financially secure Americans believe “poor people today have it easy.”

The rich are certainly entitled to their own opinions — but, as the old saying goes, nobody is entitled to their own facts. With that in mind, here’s a set of tax facts that’s worth considering: Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local tax rates than the wealthy.