Gap between US rich and poor quadruples since 1979

By Megan Hager

The Maneater, U. Missouri via UWIRE

Income inequality is a growing trend in most advanced industrial nations, and the United States has the third largest gap between its rich and poor on average among the 30 nations studied in a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Compiled graphs on Mother Jones say the top .01 percent makes an average of $27 million per household, as the average income of the bottom 90 percent makes an average of $31,244.

“Most of the economic growth in America has gone to the top half,” political science professor Jonathan Krieckhaus said. “The bottom half of America has had no increase in 40 years. The top 20 percent has doubled.”

Krieckhause said income inequality increases in most advanced countries.

The U.S. gap between its rich and poor is increasing at a record pace, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Economics professor Jeff Milyo says the statistics can be deceiving, though.

“Most people look at patterns and assumed that deviation from the norm is unfair,” Milyo said. “Arguably, that’s an overly naïve way to look at things. You need to observe the way they made their income to assess if it’s fair.”

Milyo explained that anytime someone does his or her job, that person expects to get money. Some jobs are simply more lucrative than others and most people often mistake income inequality for something else.

“When most talk about income inequality, they probably mean concerns with poverty, or they have some envy toward a class of people,” Milyo said. “They’re two separate issues. Instead of focusing on inequality, people should look at poverty without any regard to what the rich look like.”

In theory, legislation could be passed to help redistribute the wealth throughout the nation. But Krieckhaus said raised taxes for the rich and decreased taxes for the poor don’t seem to be doing much.

“It tells you that the government is smashing the rich, and they’re still getting rich,” Krieckhaus said.

In the U.S., though, the income tax for Americans making over a million dollars has decreased over the past 55 years.

According to opensecrets.org, 1 percent of Americans are millionaires and generally 40 to 50 percent of Congress is comprised of millionaires. The website says the public should be concerned about the wealth politicians hold because politicians don’t have to worry about the same economic pressures many Americans face, which could lead to a misrepresentation of citizens.

“It’s quite interesting that inequality hasn’t had an impact on politics,” Krieckhaus said. “It’s not politically rational to run on a platform on class inequality. They run on others instead. Al Gore tried to run on an inequality platform in 2000 but backed out in the last three months. Americans are adverse to thinking about class.”

Read more here: http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2011/3/1/gap-between-us-rich-and-poor-quadruples-1979/
Copyright 2014 The Maneater

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