I found this video describing wealth distribution in the United States interesting, very interesting, as well as a bit shocking. It’s worth the 6+ minutes of your time to watch.
If you watch this on YouTube and click on “Show More” under the video, you’ll see links to the data sources used to make it. I haven’t personally read through the sources to verify the data. There’s also brief commentary about the video at the site Upworthy, which was where I originally found it.
For starters, it’s clear that the difference in wealth between the poor, middle class, rich, and super-rich has grown in the last 35 years and continues to widen. I’m not sure if the other takeaway is
- that the average American’s perception of wealth distribution is skewed,
- the magnitude of the wealth inequality,
- the fact that those who are wealthy control the media that influences perception, or
- some combination of all of the above.
After reading so much Postman, I’d say I am most concerned that the media is in control of the message around wealth distribution and is influencing public perception. Since the rich, and in some cases super-rich, control the media, it’s in their best interest to promote a skewed perception of wealth inequality in order to keep the masses of people at the middle and lower income levels from demanding change. Truth be told, I find it surprising that this isn’t a bigger issue in the media given the level of wealth inequality.
Is uneven wealth distribution wrong?
To be clear, as he states in the video, I’m not against uneven wealth distribution and don’t feel it is wrong. After all, the United States is a capitalist country where those who work harder or take risks are permitted to be rewarded unevenly. It’s the primary reason the US is considered the “land of opportunity”.
However, as he concludes in the video, is one person’s value to a company worth more than 380 times another one’s? At some point, I do believe that there is a line that has to be drawn, somewhere.
At the end of the day, it’s good that we can have these discussions and debates out in the open. It’s also another reason why it’s so important for us to preserve the openness of the internet and to strive to make it available to all people in order to promote, permit, and provide access to multiple sources of information to those who seek it.
We need to expose perception bias and misconceptions on issues of all types, not just wealth distribution. I feel this is one of the biggest issues America faces – that we allow a select few to shape the message and discussion around our most critical, important topics. They will influence the message to fit their motives, which makes it difficult for the general public to tell the difference between facts, half-truths, and outright lies. Facilitating the free flow of information and allowing open, uncontrolled debate is one way (but certainly not the only way) to break up the control they have over the discussion.