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Which America Do You Live In? – 21 Hard To Believe Facts About 'Wealthy America' And 'Poor America'

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

Did you know that 40 percent of all American workers make less than $20,000 a year before taxes?  And 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes.  If you work on Wall Street, or have a cushy job with the federal government, or work for a big tech firm out on the west coast, life is probably pretty good for you right now.  But the truth is that most Americans are not living the high life.  In fact, most Americans are just trying to figure out how to survive from month to month. 

For many Americans, making a choice between buying food for your family and paying the light bill is a common occurrence.  But if you don't live in that America, hearing that people actually live like that may sound very strange to you.  After all, if everyone around you has expensive cars, the latest electronic gadgets and million dollar homes, the notion that America is in the midst of a very serious "economic decline" may seem very bizarre to you.

On Wednesday, the Dow hit a brand new record high, and Wall Street celebrated.  Since the financial crisis of 2008, stocks have been on an unprecedented run.  The top performers in the market have not just made millions of dollars - they have made billions of dollars.  Luxury apartments in Manhattan and beachfront homes in the Hamptons are selling for absolutely astronomical prices, and it seems like life in the good parts of New York City is one gigantic endless party these days.

Meanwhile, life is quite good down in Washington D.C. as well.  The wealth is spread more evenly, but on average the D.C. region actually has the highest standard of living of any major U.S. city.  The reason for this is the obscene growth of the federal government.  Over the past couple of decades, the U.S. government has ballooned in size and so have government salaries.  During one recent year, the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

Out in the San Francisco area, Internet money is flowing like wine right now.  As I wrote about yesterday, top employees of companies such as Facebook and Twitter can make millions of dollars a year.  And if you were lucky to get a piece of the ownership of one of those companies at a very early stage, you are essentially set for life.

And with the Twitter IPO coming up, Internet euphoria is once again reaching a fever pitch.  For example, just check out what a 56-year-old administrative assistant said this week about why she is going to buy Twitter stock...

“I’m just buying because everybody’s talking about Twitter,” she said. “I’m just gonna take a chance.”

Is that how we should make our investment decisions from now on?

Just buy a stock because everybody's talking about it?

That is the kind of insanity that is going on in "wealthy America" right now.

Unfortunately, the gap between "wealthy America" and "poor America" is greater than ever before.

If you live in "wealthy America", what you are about to hear next will probably sound very strange.

CNN recently profiled a 44-year-old overnight prison guard named Delores Gilmore.  She works really hard, but a lot of times she simply does not have enough money to pay all of her bills...

"The first of the month, I pay the rent," she said. "The next check, I pay my light bills. Sometimes I won't pay my rent and I pay the light bill from last month -- if they cut if it off. Then I pay the rent the end of the month."

Her life consists of going to work, taking care of her children, going to sleep, and then getting back up and repeating that same cycle once again...

"I'm not fooling anybody," she told me. "I don't have any friends. And that's sad. ... I go to work, come home, take them where they gotta go, if they gotta go somewhere, come back home, lay down, go to work.


"That's what I do. All day, that's what I do."

Sadly, the truth is that tens of millions of Americans can identify with what she is going through on a daily basis.  In millions of families, both the husband and the wife work multiple jobs and it is still not enough.

If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody.  Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.  The following are 21 facts about "wealthy America" and "poor America" that are hard to believe...

#1 The lowest earning 23,303,064 Americans combined make 36 percent less than the highest earning 2,915 Americans do.

#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year.

#3 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.

#4 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

#5 According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.  That is a brand new all-time record high.

#6 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#7 Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#9 The homeownership rate in the United States is at an 18 year low.

#10 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

#11 18 percent of all food stamp dollars are spent at Wal-Mart.

#12 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#13 It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

#14 One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.

#15 In 1980, CEOs at S&P 500 companies made 42 times as much as their employees did on average.  Today, CEOs at S&P 500 companies make 354 times as much as their employees do on average.  In fact, there are many CEOs that make more than 1000 times what the average employees in their companies make.

#16 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#18 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#19 Approximately one out of every five households in the United States is now on food stamps.

#20 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

#21 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5 percent of all the wealth in the United States.

So which America do you live in?


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Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:29 | 4133613 prains
prains's picture

work HARDER serfs !!!!!!!

<---Oligarchs please register here


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:28 | 4134013 RichardP
RichardP's picture

All those poor people should just get better jobs.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 01:07 | 4134100 sangell
sangell's picture

I retired three years ago so someone else could have mine. While I'm in the good half of America right now my problem is that another decade of ZIRP and QE could dump me into the other half. Even sooner if the value of the dollar collapses. Like I said, I'm retired and not inclined to play in Bernanke's casino or finance the US government with free money. Give me market interest rates and Obama can have my goddamned Social Security checks when I start getting them next year.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 05:37 | 4134376 hansg
hansg's picture

Are any Americans illegally crossing the border into Mexico yet so they can get a job and maybe send some money home? Because it sounds like this might become a viable option soon enough...

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 05:41 | 4134380 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture

Why do you think they're building that fence?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 06:24 | 4134401 new game
new game's picture

oink oink

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 07:30 | 4134441 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Meanwhile, the clock is still slowly ticking away to the day of their demise. 

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 06:22 | 4134400 new game
new game's picture


top 1 percent will own gold

bottom 99 percent will own pulp

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:28 | 4134662 Muddy1
Muddy1's picture

Michael Snyder's articles sound more and more like Obama and his Socialist cronies everyday.  The undercurrent of this story is "we need to spread (redistribute) the wealth around".  His, "it's not fair that so few have so much attitude sucks.  If he doesn't like the way wealth is distributed around the country he should get a job that pays more and then he can have his piece of the pie.  Crybaby.  

One of my adult children graduated from college in 2008, had a job waiting, used her degree for 3.5 years and couldn't make enough to live on.  She moved to another state, worked in a totally different field, got laid off as work slowed down.  She worked 3 part time jobs to make ends meet and kept sinking financially.  She found another job with good pay and benefits and has been at that job for 11 months.  She is doing well.  My point being she didn't wait for the government to give her someone else's wealth, she didn't sit on her ass taking handouts, she didn't depend on a union to bail her out and still works in a non-union job.  People can get out of a bind without Snyder's implication of "it's not fair that you have more than me so I want the government to make us even and level the playing field" moronic mentality.  But then why am I surprised, he's a fricking lawyer which is the dominant profession of our dear leaders in DC.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:04 | 4135210 ZeroPoint
ZeroPoint's picture

I applaud both you and your daughter for giving her the priceless inheritance of self worth and work ethic. Unfortunately, this result cannot be mass produced.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:32 | 4133628 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

Only 47 more shopping days until Christmas........




Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:34 | 4133632 Umh
Umh's picture

It seems like the wrong people are having children. "#14 One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes."

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:43 | 4133672 Tasty Sandwich
Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:16 | 4133799 plane jain
plane jain's picture

Partly for certain.  There may be some causation vs. correlation going on there.  Maybe adaptation for some of the poorest. Kind of like old school agriculture only instead of having a lot of kids to work the farm, more kids means more government goodies.

Many couple of our acquaintance have no children, 2 couples have 1 child, and 2 have 2 children.  Below replacement rate in a group of 30 something middle class professionals.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:33 | 4133863 Tasty Sandwich
Tasty Sandwich's picture

Old school agriculture = kids produced.

Today's welfare = kids consume.

I find it hard to believe having another kid to get an increased welfare benefit is worth it, unless you just completely neglect the kid.

I'd rather live in 2013 than 1713.  But things aren't looking so great for the world by 2023, so I won't be having kids.


I've heard Jim Rogers say he always thought kids were a waste of time and money.  He changed his mind once he became a billionaire and had done everything else.  I suppose it's a lot easier at that point.  Paying a nanny to take care of the routine stuff and not having to worry about providing leaves a lot more room for spending quality time with the child.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:27 | 4134010 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

"I find it hard to believe having another kid to get an increased welfare benefit is worth it, unless you just completely neglect the kid."

That's pretty much how they do it...neglect, beatings, slapping and verbal abuse.

Go to any low income area grocery store or wal mart and just watch the parenting.

That being said, you MUST have your own child.  Please don't let the negatives of poor parents and a less than optimum national outlook dissuade you from the greatest joy life offers.  When I was young I had the same thoughts but became a  parent anyway.  Today I am a grandfather and my joy is exceeded by the wonder and miracle of new life and grandchildren whose eyes light up when they see 'Grandaddy!'

Be fruitful and multiply.  Growing old is happier with kids around.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:33 | 4134025 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Isn't that kind of self-centered?  Creating life where none previously existed, just so you can be happier?  What about the emotions that will be experienced by the life created for your emotional benefit.  Do you suppose they will be as happy in the life ahead of them as you are now (assuming all the disasters come true that have been predicted in this space)?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:01 | 4134192 aldousd
aldousd's picture

Nobody should ever have any children, ever, by that standard. Life sucks, then you grow up, then life sucks even more. I don't think only rich people should have children. Even though that's probably not what you'd admit where you were going with this, it's kind of implied. I also don't believe anyone should get welfare. Nobody. So take that for what it's worth.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:00 | 4134476 HomeBrewPrepper
HomeBrewPrepper's picture

You should not have children if:
-.people don't know if your pregnant or just fat
- you smoke
- your not married or in a long term committed relationship.
- you still live at home
- you make minimum wage
- you don't know who your baby daddy is

I'm sure there is plenty more I can think of

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 15:00 | 4136186 llewelyn moss
llewelyn moss's picture

Can you have children if you don't know the difference between "you're" and "your"?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 03:11 | 4134267 SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

How about this: teach your kids well, and be responsible (don't have too many, adopt, help others to parent well by being involved in your neighbors life, at church, etc.)  Our kids and grandkids are and should be why we care about this damn mess (and the assumed disasters to come we try to get our heads around in this space every day.)

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:16 | 4135471 zuuma
zuuma's picture

Sooner or later the "Childless Cohort" always trot out the "having kids is selfish" thing.

That would be the Japanese model, no?  Hows that demographic suicide thing going for them?

I used to puzzle about why the childless said that & even wondered if it were true.

It might be for a few people -- like barren & soon-to-be-barren single women, a' la Madonna -- certainly not for most.

Having kids is actually pretty terrifying. The responsibilities are so vast.
Hardly the same as aquiring some expensive status symbol to show off to aqaintences.

If I had remained childless, I'd have a LOT more money & stuff, now.
The selfish path: "More stuff for me!"

I used to be like that, but now give away my stuff to the kids.

Such a modern problem, too.
Not that many years ago, there wasn't much birth control. Kids happened a lot. Couldn't stop 'em.

Anyway, when someone says having children is "selfish" I now recognize what that is: It's projection.

I guess I could have simply bought an expensive dog. 

Nothing selfish about that, right?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:53 | 4135472 zuuma
zuuma's picture

And here's a baloon for the kids!

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:44 | 4133674 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

What would you suggest? Requiring a minimum income to be allowed to have children? And what happens if after you've had the children you fall below that threshold? Should the children be taken from you?

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:00 | 4133743 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

How about dont have kids unless you can pay for them?

How about as a condition of accepting welfare food stamps and subsidized housing you have to be on birth control?

It is immoral to have children you cant take care of.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:23 | 4133831 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

Are you assuming that having kids when you are financially secure is some sort of guarantee that you will always be financially secure? Do you not know anyone that went broke? What do you do about their kids? Take them away because they can no longer afford them?

It's a child, not a car that can be repoed and resold.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:19 | 4134983 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

no one said anything about taking kids away from anyone, that is something you made up entirely.

but, carl is absolutely correct, it's a problem for society when the least responsible people are reproducing in greater numbers, and expect others should be responsible for raising their hellspawn.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:04 | 4133944 deflator
deflator's picture

You will find a way to take care of your children. That is what we do.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:27 | 4133852 plane jain
plane jain's picture

Not directed at me, but I would vote for education on childrearing and the financial facts of life as part of the high school curriculum, free readily available birth control.  I could even go for a cash incentive (student loan payent?) for women not having a baby before they are 24 and have some chance of being financially independent, or at least have fewer years left to reproduce.

I'm a parent, love my child, and think children are a blessing.  But they are also a responsibility.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:47 | 4133903 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

You make a more reasonable case and I agree with much of it. What I am not in favor of is this idea of mandatory minimum income in order to be allowed to have children. I just find it amazing that some of the very people that perpetually rail against "central planning" seem to advocate for the most extreme form of central planning imaginable: Government mandated minimum incomes in order to be allowed to have a child. To me that is not only insane, it is insanely cruel.

I realize that many have a child and then find themselves in way over their heads and abandon the child. That is a tragedy. But how many people have turned their lives around BECAUSE they had a child? And for how many people, yes particularly poor people, is their child the only ray of hope remaining in their lives? Are we cruel enough to take that away from them because they aren't rich enough? Since when did having money equate to being a good parent?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:28 | 4135038 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

again, you are putting words in other peoples' mouths.

it is dishonest, and a straw-man argument.

no one said anything about "mandatory minimum income", or a government enforced "solution".

just because some have pointed out what a major problem for society is, you jumped the gun and assumed that they are advocating some government law or other - absolutely not true!

i agree with carl as to what the problem is, but government (extortion by thugs with badges and guns) is *never* the solution, it only makes problems worse.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 03:16 | 4134273 SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

"free readily available birth control."

I agree with your comments - but think this is not the best or only approach.  Having a good relationship with your children, where they can talk to you, and encouraging self control in their own self interest - works wonders in tandem.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:36 | 4135333 Georgiabelle
Georgiabelle's picture

There was a study that came out recently that found that smarter women tend to have fewer children. My personal theory on why this is true is that highly intelligent women are more likely to attend college, where they are steeped in a culture of narcissism and nihilism, blunting their desire to do something as inherently unselfish and life-affirming as bearing and raising children. This is especially tragic given how badly our civilization needs for the brightest and best to reproduce. We are so screwed.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:37 | 4133649 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture


Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:18 | 4133806 Agent P
Agent P's picture

Me too, but the club's getting smaller.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:39 | 4133876 GOLDTRADERRR


You post one fucking word,

and you mis-spell it?

You're certainly not john 'IQ' public

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:43 | 4134052 Yenbot
Yenbot's picture

eye before ee eggcept aftor cee

he gots it right!

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:09 | 4134489 Bollixed
Bollixed's picture

That saying receives a lot more weight than it deserves...

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:24 | 4134510 quadcap
quadcap's picture

unless it sounds like ayy as in neighbor and weigh (and a bunch of other exceptional cases which you just have to learn one at a time...)


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:09 | 4135233 chemystical
chemystical's picture

How do you know he that didn't spell it correctly?   Oh, I see!  You presume that he intended to spell 'neither'.  If that's the case, then his communication was effective...

...bc u knw exctly wtf he wuz tryng to cnvey 2 u azzhole.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:39 | 4133659 therevolutionwas
therevolutionwas's picture

82% of food stamps are not spent at Wal Mart.  I take it the 18% at Wal Mart is for food and stuff.  The rest is spent.........where?  These poor folk on food stamps.  I retired and took a 50% income reduction.  Foodstamp folk have to take a 6% cut;  they will end up rioting it will be such a hardship.  If I could, I would spit on social security payments and send it back.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:50 | 4133692 Umh
Umh's picture

You can send it back or better still not apply for it in the first place. So go ahead if it makes you feel better.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:56 | 4133722 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

Let me see if I understand this correctly: You are upset that you had to take a 50% pay cut because you RETIRED? Really? Do you see anything wrong with your statement?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 01:34 | 4134142 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

How, pray tell, did you gather that the Poster was "upset?"

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 05:46 | 4134382 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture

re: "The rest is spent.........where?"

Just a wild guess here, but is it on lattes at Starbucks? Oh that was just in Oregon, my bad.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:42 | 4133665 g'kar
g&#039;kar's picture

#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.


......and the taxpayer subdizes that person's wages with free stuff so the corporations don't have to pay a real wage and make those dollar menus reflect the true costs.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:45 | 4133680 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

Seems like it's the corporations getting the real subsidy there.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:05 | 4134203 aldousd
aldousd's picture

You might be right, but corporations are just doing what they do: living in their environment. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a corporation is designed to make money, because they are. They always have been. It's that design that pays the employees salaries, and allows the employees to spend money in your good old-fashioned mom and pop buy-local-and-tarriff-the-fuck-out-of-the-world-or-you're-downright-unamerican stores. So get over it. Next.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 05:48 | 4134384 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture

re: "but corporations are just doing what they do: living in their environment."

Right, after they bought off enough legislators to create that environment.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:59 | 4133738 MilwaukeeMark
MilwaukeeMark's picture

Perhaps you meant your post for the Huffington Post. People on
this blog have a minimal understanding of economics. That includes the concept that employees are paid based upon the skill sets they bring to the marketplace, not upon some utopian concept of wealth redistribution.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:14 | 4133779 g'kar
g&#039;kar's picture

Yes, I was a closet marxist until now.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:38 | 4135080 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

yes, you were a marxist with this phrase:

"so the corporations don't have to pay a real wage"

as if to suggest, there is some "real" wage (for some definition of "real") that everyone "ought" to make.

some people are not as smart, not as skilled, not as hard-working as others, and their labor is not as valuable.

if you're an employer, and someone produces $10/hr worth of labor for you, you have to pay less than $10/hr to stay in business.

you would know this if you employed people.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 14:02 | 4135853 MilwaukeeMark
MilwaukeeMark's picture

In that case G'kar. Enjoy your time in the soup lines

Sun, 11/10/2013 - 20:51 | 4137446 g'kar
g&#039;kar's picture


Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:27 | 4133848 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

Funny. When the money flows from the top down, it's "wealth redistribution", when it flows from the bottom up, it's "capitalism". That is some seriously fucked up shit.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:31 | 4134020 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

Please explain how money flows from the bottom up.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 01:27 | 4134136 g'kar
g&#039;kar's picture

Free stuff flows up to the corporations?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 01:30 | 4134139 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

When the corporate officers pocket every last bit of 30 years of productivity gains while for the most part contributing next to nothing to said gains...

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:07 | 4134205 aldousd
aldousd's picture

Unless they don't pay their workers' salaries, I'd hardly say they aren't contributing.  Of course they could just close up shop and make everyone get a new job. How equitable.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 07:36 | 4134443 negative rates
negative rates's picture

The low life, rock bottom drug dealer who supplies wall street and DC politicians with their fix, is how money flows from the bottom up.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 14:12 | 4135864 MilwaukeeMark
MilwaukeeMark's picture

Explaining the basics of economics to you would be like trying to teach Helen Keller to enjoy Italian opera

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:38 | 4133871 Cabreado
Cabreado's picture

What I all at once like and dislike about comments such as yours, is that you expose yourself and your minimal understanding of the concept of milking the host dry.

I have said before -- the impediments to solutions -- and they are persons -- always expose themselves, eventually.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:28 | 4134518 Dr. G
Dr. G's picture

Wait a second, G'kar has something there. If the gubmint pays for healthcare through taxes, it does benefit the corporations since they can omit that line item in their expenses. I'm not advocating that, just pointing out an income statement reality. Personally, I don't think corporations should be taxed at all. Let it all pass through to people so they really know how much their government is taxing them!

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:43 | 4133667 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture


Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:44 | 4133677 screw face
screw face's picture

no comment

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:52 | 4133696 monad
monad's picture

The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto

Assimilate this and you may grasp the magnitude of our dilemma; and position yourself & your late term zygotes better for what's coming. Especially if you're a google engineer sincerely outraged that your ubiquitous surveillance system was weaponized. Personally I think all google engineers are so ethically disoriented that they would cream their dockers to work for The Shadow. What did you expect, Dexter? Whadya, stoopit? Look around. Everything you give the gremlins will be weaponized. Stop. Turn on to what your work is being used for. Tune in to what you can do about it. Morph into a real game changer. 

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:11 | 4134212 aldousd
aldousd's picture

You're so full of shit. I worked at a government contracting firm for 10 years, and getting out of there was the best thing I have ever done.  I will tell you straight up that almost everyone who does that work thinks it's evil, and can't wait to find something better.  You don't know this when you sign up to work there. Right out of college, benefits, good pay, etc. But when you see what kind of mindless claptrap goes around in endless cycles at a government contractor, god forbid working for less money for the feds directly, you want out -- if not for moral reasons, just to preserve your intellectual sanity.  My own breaking point was a combination of the two.  I started a failing business to get out. Best mistake I ever made.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:11 | 4134599 monad
monad's picture

Thank you for illustrating my point. o.0

You might want to follow that link to figure out what I'm talking about.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:50 | 4133697 countupir
countupir's picture

I am trying to get around 40% plus 65%.  How do you get 105% make less than $40k/year?  Is this government math?  Anyone? 

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:53 | 4133711 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

I really hope you're kidding.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:02 | 4133748 countupir
countupir's picture

The point is the problem with using the government statistics is they are warped and don't adhere to common sense terms.  You need a key/legend just to really understand what they are trying to decribe.  What is poor in a country like the US?  If you have ever been to just about any other country you know poor in US terms is rich in a hell of a lot of other countries.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:11 | 4133781 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

I don't wholly measure rich or poor by the amount of money one has or doesn't have but rather by the struggle or ease with which one can provide for oneself and family. There are many places in the world where one can provide with very little income, simultaneously, there are places (Zimbabwe comes to mind) where a billion dollars in their "currency" could not buy a loaf of bread.

And yes. I've been to very very poor places. I was born in one.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:28 | 4133853 prains
prains's picture

real quality of life for you and your children is a metric that doesn't always need to be measured in terms of income

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:57 | 4133700 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

The left believes that rich people spend actual effort trying to keep the lower classes "in their place."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The rich dont give a fuck about the non rich. They wouldnt spend their time unproductively like that. They are too busy trying to make money and gaming the system. That is what the rich do. There is a huge difference between Their theory and reality and leftist theory creates bad policy that we have to regulate those with wealth rather than open up capital and labor flows.

The solution is to make sure the system cannot be gamed. Lower barriers for labor and capital flows. We have lowered the barriers in the general labor market to a great deal. Now it is time to lower barriers to business formation and competitive entry into all areas.

End the rent seeking everywhere, especially in healthcare where job certifications are used as barriers to entry so prices can be kept high.

A recreational therapist has to have a college degree and be certified? To play bingo or build necklaces with patients?

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:00 | 4133742 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

The rich need the poor. After all, who are they supposed to steal from? Other rich people? That would be uncivilized.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:09 | 4133756 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture


Those rich that sell to the poor could make more money if the productivity of poor people were increased so the poir had more capital.

Economics is not a zero sum game.

The rich just want to make money, not hold people down. Wasting effort to hold people down is time that could have been spent making money.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:17 | 4133802 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

I don't disagree with you. All I'm saying is that history has proven that in order for a few to have much, many must have little. Notice the gains at the top as the bottom gets more crowded. It's not an accident. And it will end badly. It always does.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:23 | 4133833 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

Ending barriers to all capital and labor flows and aggressively policing markets to make sure barriers dont develop subtly due to "certifications" and non economic regulations would help reduce our Gini coefficient.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:32 | 4133860 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

Who makes the laws? Who drafts the regulations? It sure as fuck ain't the worker, citizens or politicians. Most regulations are drafted by lobbyists. Who do they serve?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:51 | 4135144 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

they serve special interests, such as the "healthcare" lobby, and harm the average person.

exactly why society would benefit from getting rid of such laws.


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:45 | 4134049 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

Carl Popper said:  "Ending barriers to all capital and labor flows and aggressively policing markets to make sure barriers dont develop subtly due to "certifications" and non economic regulations would help reduce our Gini coefficient."

Let's not forget Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men.  Plus the Ozone layer. Might just as well fix that once and for all while we're establishing our Worker's Paradise.  Oh yeah, GoBull Warming.  How could I forget?!  Let's put an end to that, too, while we're at it and then we'll take a look at the GINI coefficient.  Should be completely and totally yet equally broke by then and the perfect "0" attained.  Great work!

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:16 | 4134214 aldousd
aldousd's picture

True!  Getting rich selling something, you don't really care who is buying it, you just look for your audience and sell to them.  That's the way it should be.  There are lots of distortions that put people who wouldn't otherwise have been in one audience into it, but that isn't the fault of someone selling to them (aka Walmart, McDonalds, etc) It is just the way it is.  If you provide goods or services to people that want them, and they provide you a margin, good for you. Fuck the haters. Seriously. They're just jealous. There's a reason why Zealous and Jealous only differ by one letter.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:04 | 4135209 GainByBrokenWindow
GainByBrokenWindow's picture

Bingo. If there was less regulation restricting small business (and more restricting large international ones with lobby-ist departments) those people making less than a livable wage could go work for themselves and create something that will pay them more, and maybe even increasing employment to boot.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:55 | 4133717 uncle_vito
uncle_vito's picture

Tell this to Obama.   Wasn't he supposed to do something about this instead of enrich his greedy ass?

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 22:57 | 4133726 q99x2
q99x2's picture

I live in a different reality. It is my personal arrangement of incoming energized particles. I can't seem to find my way out at this point. Some one suggested helping others so I might try that. 

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:01 | 4133728 tchild2
tchild2's picture

So, what is anybody supposed to do?  Life is unfair.  Does the author want to give away his surplus income to the broke prison guard?  Doe the author believe that goverment should solve poverty?  What to do Author?  Suggestions Author?

Where I live, when I was in high School 30 years ago, everyone I knew was broke.  Now, where I live, people have money everywhere.  Life has gotten better for myself and everyone I know.  Every man must race to his own rescue.  Life is unfair, so what can any of us do except to do our best?

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:16 | 4133793 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

Your last paragraph is so true. High school kids have a low labor participation rate because now they can get what they want without working for it.

We have enough surplus to maintain huge numbers in nonproductive activities.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:01 | 4135195 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

enough surplus for now, until the cheap oil runs out.

then, a whole new way of life sets in.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:58 | 4133907 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

I think what you are trying to say is that you have done things that make money.  I am not one of those dickheads that blather about bad choices....  But technical degrees pay way more than other jobs, plus you get to deal with logical minds rather than marshmallow heads.

Think of it this way (talking extreme here to make a point):

WS care only about making money

CEO care only about making money

Certain degrees make money, some don't.

If that is the world, you cannot make a choice based on fluffy thinking and expect to make money.  You have to do the things that make you money.  Not the things that you like and then be pissed that it does not correspond to the things that you knew made money...

Now the discussion about what you do with that in a spectrum of society with varying levels of payment is a different discussion..

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:19 | 4134218 aldousd
aldousd's picture

Haha! You must be a professor of humanities at Liberal Arts University(tm). Nobody else could sport such wisdom with aplomb.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:59 | 4133936 Cabreado
Cabreado's picture

"Life is unfair, so what can any of us do except to do our best?"

Have a social conscience, recognize the host requires greater input than "life is unfair."


Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:13 | 4133786 monad
monad's picture

<- The one that hides its physical assets from the tax collector

<- The one that hides the fruits of its labor from the tax collector

Which State do you live in? 

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:19 | 4133814 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

People are now incentivized to report lower income than they have, due to all the entitlements.

All employment numbers and income numbers are suspect now.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:20 | 4133819 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

"I'm not fooling anybody," she told me. "I don't have any friends. And that's sad. ... I go to work, come home, take them where they gotta go, if they gotta go somewhere, come back home, lay down, go to work.

"That's what I do. All day, that's what I do."

And that folks is how most people live every single day of their lives.

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:24 | 4133838 ThirdCoastSurfer
ThirdCoastSurfer's picture

Most of this argument has nothing to do with anything but greed. The vast majority of those unhappy with the economic balance are firmly upper lower class or middle class who's greed to own, as the band Nickleback laments in "rock star": "hilltop houses and 15 cars" is beyond reason and detrimental to society in a pleatura of ways from illness to injury. Despite the $100,00 spend on each individual in public education tax dollars, we cannot see past our desire for evermore, evermore, driven mostly by advertisements that foment this greed by making it socially acceptable to do so. There are almost 50,000 storage rental facilities in the US -which does not include garages no cars could ever park in or storage sheds.attics and basements on property; and yet,  the lament is still for evermore, evermore and it's so unfair that you have more than I.     

Economics is not a zero sum game. Even if you were to take everything from the rich and distribute it to the poor it would not make things equal for very long and the ecomomy would collapse, and history is repleate with examples. That said, to a certain extent, economics is also a two way street. The example of Heny Ford implementing the $5 wage that created the working middle-class is a perfect example.  Still, it worked for the auto industry because it was limited to the auto industry and it's extenuations. A macro minimum wage only serves to set a floor for inflation. Unfair as it is, the price for all goods and services merly adjusts higher to reflect the base and the minimum wage will always be the bottom rung of the working poor no matter how high you adjust it. In fact, the higher you raise it, the more you entrap into the gravitational pull of this vortex.   

Something like 3 billion poeple in the world still cook their meals using open fires indoors. Anyone who does in America is likely by choice or ignorance, and this includes illegal immigrants. 

While life will always be unfair, in dealth the means by which such wealth was accumulated should be put to trial as it will in the afterlife and those found wanting should be dispossessed in death without recompense to the surviving heirs. Since none us know when or how the end will arrive, the threat to those who's wealth could be considered ill begotten would force them to spread it wider and riskier than it is currently and this is as close as we will ever get to "fairness".

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:24 | 4133839 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Good article.  Scary but good. 

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:36 | 4133868 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

#10 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

Well if folks stopped buying chinese slaves crap there, it wouldn't be the case...

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:07 | 4133951 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

In addition to asking poor people to save less of the little money that they have to spend, shouldn't we ask the government to stop subsidizing this POS company???? 

Or better yet have the POS Executives of this POS company try to build a company that does not require killing their customers and the country they profit in?

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 23:46 | 4133904 venturen
venturen's picture

The first ones to de activate are the bankers. They are the ones gaming the system. We need an overhaul of the tax system or the whole thing is going the way of the French revoluation! 

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:04 | 4133948 EARLPEARL
EARLPEARL's picture


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:32 | 4134006 highwaytoserfdom
highwaytoserfdom's picture

And corporations buy back there stock because they are lazy and won't do anything but pinch profits without growth.   Education system has 70 percent trained not to creat but pinch pennies. Brand by hype instead of quality.  Finance industry is double the size and if measured in loans, real (as opposed to synthetic paper)  ten times too large. 

Audit the FED and stop the usury madness of fractional reserve.   

Residential real estate is not an investment it is shelter expense and has created a huge land bubble for the property tax robbers.  


"The Rothschilds, and that class of money-lenders of whom they are the representatives and agents -- men who never think of lending a shilling to their next-door neighbors, for purposes of honest industry, unless upon the most ample security, and at the highest rate of interest -- stand ready, at all times, to lend money in unlimited amounts to those robbers and murderers, who call themselves governments, to be expended in shooting down those who do not submit quietly to being robbed and enslaved." by: Lysander Spooner
(1808-1887) Political theorist, activist, abolitionist
Fri, 11/08/2013 - 00:52 | 4134073 Dr. Bonzo
Dr. Bonzo's picture

Any one of us is inches from humility... There but for the grace of god....

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 01:46 | 4134167 robnume
robnume's picture

I know where I live. On Walmart Street. Didn't used to be that way.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:07 | 4134204 g'kar
g&#039;kar's picture

That's a dangerous street to live on.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:19 | 4134217 Vice
Vice's picture

This is so depressing. Something needs to be done. 

Why did I take the red pill

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 02:47 | 4134250 dunce
dunce's picture

I am sure every figure reported is true ,but what is left out is that those who are public employees do very much better than the average private sector employees. Sure there are some private sector people that make big bucks, but government jobs now have higher pay and much better benefits. they pay taxes but all their pay comes from taxes so it is just a money shuffle for them. In the private sector  your taxes supposedly buy services, who thinks they are getting what they are paying for. do you really appreciate the NSA, the IRS, the DHS, the EPA, or many other parasites limiting your liberty.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 04:55 | 4134328 daemon
daemon's picture

"If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody."

For how long exactly ?  Don't you know that, every time a free market capitalist system is started, it inevitably ends up with people rigging it for their own profit, trying to suppress opportunities for others, to eliminate competition .

Let me tell you a story : " Once upon a time, a guy had a great idea to make money. Being an entrepreneur, he started a business. Some years later, his business had had such a huge succes that the guy had become multi billionaire; he had made (more or less voluntarily) a lot of friends in the government (because you know, sometimes it can be useful), he had made (more or less voluntarily) a lot of friends among other successful entrepreneurs (because you know, even when there is no government, there is always someone else to "corrupt").

In the end he had become a very rich, very powerful entrepreneur, .... and a very .... crony capitalist ."


Your systems people, whether capitalism or socialism, are for the dead. For your systems to operate "smoothly", they always rely on the condition that people won't try to take advantage of other people, won't try to rig the system for their own profit at the expense of others, ... . Sorry, to teach you that hard lesson, but we are made to survive, to more or less take advantage of every opportunity and not to necessarily pay attention to the well-being of other people or living beings .


Fri, 11/08/2013 - 06:55 | 4134412 justsayin2u
justsayin2u's picture

If I wanted to have an easy life and retire after 20 years with a rich pension I'd work for local or state or federal government - that where the new rich work.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 07:29 | 4134439 Razzle Dazzle
Razzle Dazzle's picture

Just limit each person to $50M worth. If caught hiding the funds, you lose the lot or shot, either way you lose. Gives another a chance to make their fortune. 

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:15 | 4134618 Sixdeuce062
Sixdeuce062's picture

i see three things wrong with that: one thats a type a communism/socialism and those things are bad, second after inflation hits 50mil wont buy you a loaf of bread at the discount shop. three if half of the us population would wake the hell up they would realize they have a chance and there would be a lot of dead politicians

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:34 | 4134527 RiverRoad
RiverRoad's picture

Thanks Nixon for opening up China for your bankster buddies.  In order to compete with the Chinese/Asia on a level playing field we've had to outsource our workforce, pay people peanuts, destroy our middle class and trash our dollar.  And don't get me started on what he did with the dollar.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:43 | 4134544 MarcusAurelius
MarcusAurelius's picture

These statistics are more sobering for the average guy than anything else. He should look at them and say "how did I let this happen" versus "boy those rich fellas sure got it good compared to me". It is the middle class transfer of wealth that has made this happen. Everyone looking for someone else to make them rich. If you are going to get wealthy it happens only from YOU and no one else. Stop putting your money into Wall Street, stop shopping at Wal-mart, stop voting for the idiots that claim they represent you, stop buying brand names, stop going to all the fast food places, and a host of other actions that over time will transfer the wealth back. Support your local businesses and friends. Do not buy anything from a corporation. Create your own small economies within your state or municipality as there is plenty of peole to do this. If you start to do some of these things you will see the TBTF entities will fail or they will be dismantled. There won't be any need for them. The problem is how many people care to do it?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 08:52 | 4134570 PowerPlayer
PowerPlayer's picture

This is why Obama is such a fool. How does he think young healthy people have money for insurance premiums as they are trying to buy a house and pay off student loans.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:23 | 4134643 sablya
sablya's picture

Everything is going according to plan.  The enslavement of the masses through the aggregation of wealth in the hands of the few is the plan.  That is what the bankers through the Fed are doing.  They've found effective ways to transfer wealth (i.e. steal) from the poor and give it to themselves.  The funny thing is, that the people themselves are in favor of this wealth transfer.  Everyone can see the effect but most people don't realize that the Fed is actually the perpetrators of this crime of epic proportions.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:23 | 4134644 RobM1981
RobM1981's picture

Well then, by all means let's stay the course.  Our president and his followers have clearly led us to the promised land.  I say let's double down on this great success.


Raise taxes.  Hand the poor money, instead of jobs.  Continue emphasizing English over Science and Math in school.  Brainwash the kids.


Seriously, who didn't see this coming?  This is what liberalism does.  Detroit, on a larger scale.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:37 | 4134716 Blame Crash
Blame Crash's picture

It's technology that has enabled the corporate and government factions to strip people of their wealth and rig the system so that everything will soon be theirs.  American slavery that is making a come back.

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:40 | 4134738 Sixdeuce062
Sixdeuce062's picture

Wow I have never seen so many commies and zolcialists comments posted in one place here all because there are some people with dare i say a type of entilement of success and envy. Well its like this there is crony capitalism in the US, anyone can see that but to sit there and blame TPTB 100% is absolute bullshit. They have a big hand in the way things in the US are now that no lie but its just as much the fault of the sheeple for letting it happen. Not to mention turning a blind eye to the problems that are going on. and as far as true capitalism as a wise man once said " you cant have wealth of nations with out moral sentiments" which means for those who have never read either of those books you capitalism does not work if the people do not have a moral compass. You dont need authoritarian rule and justice if the people have a moral compass " oh wait the US gradually threw that away after WW2 in the 60's guess that would explain why the US after 60's has been on a general decline. regardless of your thoughts on morallity, and how you can get caught up in the "game" of what kind of big government is the best maybe you can pull that big green envious weenie out of your butt and realize that its not about the MONAY ( event they realize its just a tool) its about TPTB being in control and you being a loyal serf or sheeple and when you finally realize that TPTB is a club not indivuals you will understand that the: "what type of government and economic system is the best" is nothing but a distraction used to keep you in your place

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:12 | 4135251 chemystical
chemystical's picture


If the disparity trend between haves and have nots continues at this pace, then when should we expect to see these advertisements on the sides of the zerohedge webpage:

Hot American Girls Want To Meet You


Sat, 11/09/2013 - 10:09 | 4138207 Yukon6400
Yukon6400's picture

ARTICLE: "If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody."


Correct. We live in a welfare state. The 21 "Facts" you list are indicative of that.


ARTICLE: "#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year."

Cross reference that with redistributive payments like EBT, etc. and the income thresholds imposed by those programs and you will probably see a tight grouping right under that threshold. When the next dollar earned loses $3,000-$5,000 benfits, it's hard to have the courage to earn that next dollar.


Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:40 | 4142683 Conservative_Ex...
Conservative_Extremist's picture

Typical Communist dribble..  Especially the CNN story about the prision guard..  Why dont you check out what prision guards get in Cali..

Until they dissolve every public employee union and make every state a right to work state this country under its current dictator will remain an economic disaster.

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