Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Alternate Universe with Less Extreme Income Inequality

Today's Pioneer Press included a story on income inequality, accompanied by the graph shown at left, below. (Click it to see it larger.)

Three graphs of income inequality over time
I thought it would be interesting to plot out the lines pretending we live in an alternate universe where the divergent income line that started back in the Reagan era didn't happen.

The center graph shows what it would look like if the incomes of the top 1 percent grew at just the rate of the bottom 90 percent. Gee, they still look like they'd be pretty well off.

The graph at right flips that concept around, asking, What if the incomes of the bottom 90 percent had grown at the rate of the top 1 percent?

The fact that the black line in this graph, representing the bottom 90 percent, hardly seems to have moved at all is a telling artifact that shows just how far apart the two trend lines are. Increasing income from $17K to $61K is barely visible when placed on the same scale with an increase of $252K to $906K.

All of which reminds me of a flier I saw posted on a bulletin board yesterday in Chicago:

Small poster reading Before they fire one more teacher make the rich play by the rules

1 comment:

Artie said...

DN3 - amazing information. It's very interesting how lackadasical most of us are when reviewing these charts. It seems to me that many of us who are in the bottom 90% seem to shrug our shoulders and accept things simply as "that's the way things are..." Thanks for fighting the fight.