At Hotel Bel Air in January, 2004
Flickr-User: Alan Light
Imagine that you live in a nation where the top 1% have more than 40% of the financial wealth of the entire country (1). In this horrible and despicable land of unequal distribution of wealth, the oppressed poor live better than middle-class Europeans, in fact 75% of the oppressed poor in this land own a car and almost one-third own two or more cars (2).
This land is so oppressive that 99% of the world desires to live there and if it were possible, they would move there immediately.
You know the name of this country. It is called the United States of America.
But in today's Washington's Blog we read:
Egyptian, Tunisian and Yemeni protesters all say that inequality is one of the main reasons they're protesting.
However, the U.S. actually has much greater inequality than in any of those countries. Specifically, the "Gini Coefficient" -- the figure economists use to measure inequality - is higher in the U.S.
The author is wrong, it is not inequality that Middle East Arabs are protesting, or even inequality of wealth; what they are most angry about is inequality of opportunity, and that is not reflected in the Gini coefficient.
In the US, everyone has the opportunity to be in the top 1%. Oprah Winfrey is in that top 1% not only in this country but in the top 1% of the entire world. Born into abject poverty (3), in any other country in the world she would have been selling fruit on the street if she were lucky.
By the way, it should be noted that Oprah Winfrey is a contributing factor to the inequality index of the US. Is that a bad thing, Obama?
Who Rules America, Wealth, Income, and Power
Table 1: Distribution of net worth and financial wealth in the United States, 1983-2007
Total Net Worth Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent 1983 33.8% 47.5% 18.7% 1989 37.4% 46.2% 16.5% 1992 37.2% 46.6% 16.2% 1995 38.5% 45.4% 16.1% 1998 38.1% 45.3% 16.6% 2001 33.4% 51.0% 15.6% 2004 34.3% 50.3% 15.3% 2007 34.6% 50.5% 15.0% Financial Wealth Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent 1983 42.9% 48.4% 8.7% 1989 46.9% 46.5% 6.6% 1992 45.6% 46.7% 7.7% 1995 47.2% 45.9% 7.0% 1998 47.3% 43.6% 9.1% 2001 39.7% 51.5% 8.7% 2004 42.2% 50.3% 7.5% 2007 42.7% 50.3% 7.0%
Planck's Constant, Obama: Robin of the Hood
Here's something to consider [Heritage Foundation]:
- Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
- Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
- Snooty Europeans may look down their noses at America but our poor live better than their middle class: The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
- Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
- Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
- As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms.
Wiki, Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood. She experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, including being raped at the age of nine and becoming pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy.
Read my disclaimer regarding links to Wiki articles here.