We are the 1 Percent

Despite some well-crafted dissent, most experts see continued growing income inequality in the United States.

Source:  The Atlantic

And most see that inequality as a major problem.  The basic argument is that those in power wield their power to advance their competitive position via tax breaks, government-­protection and support as well as other forms of what economists call “rent seeking.”  It seems to me that the best corrective to our current situation is to foster real equality of opportunity via “inclusive” political and economic institutions.  To the extent that our institutions are or become “extractive” and concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of only a few, we can expect to decline and ultimately to fail as a nation.  A wide variety of principled arguments can be made as to how this ideal can best be accomplished, and that’s a subject beyond my point today.

My goal hereby is merely to provide a bit of context.

By global standards, most Americans are really, really rich.   

On a global scale, the richest 1 percent earns around $34,000 a year, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic. Since the median income in the United States is $51,914 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), most of us are part of the global 1 percent.  As a country, we are the one percent.

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