A Visual Reminder Of US Social Stratification

Tyler Durden's picture

While many watch the revolutions starting virtually on a daily basis in the "developing world", few are concerned that these have any chance of occurring in the United States: "our society is far more cohesive and far less stratified" the rebuttal logic goes. Is it? Over the past two years, the one social class that has received the most voluminous amount of opprobrium is the ubiquitously derogatory "bankster" which represents far more a wealth and income qualification, that a job description. Americans it appears are becoming increasingly sensitive to the stratification within our own society, even if on a subliminal level. And while we have repeatedly shown before in visual terms just how polarized US society is, it worth reminding every few months or so, that the US is rapidly becoming a banana republic not only in its approach to legislative and judicial matters (not to mention regulatory), but toward the distribution of income and wealth. Not that there is anything wrong with a stratified society: after all, that is the purest hallmark of a capitalist society. However when one introduces the basest elements of socialism (and, ostensibly, communism and fascism according to some) in its midst, then things get far more transparent and subjective. Below we once again bring to our readers attention, in easily digestible format, the dramatic schisms that continue to tear through the fabric of US society. And if there is anything that the revolutions in the Maghreb should have taught us by now is that extreme social polarization can only last for so long before a violent snapback restores equilibrium, usually through bloodshed and death.

Graphics courtesy of Mother Jones'

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.

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 it all

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

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.

Who's Winning

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