A brief tale in pictures:

Please note that this has nothing to do with our current economic problems. That is why it is never discussed in the news, during elections, or by elected officials. Our problems may be due to a lot of different things, including but not limited to:

– Outsourcing blue collar jobs
– Costly wars
– Tax cuts during costly wars
– The collapse of the dollar
– Poor monetary policy
– Lazy, entitled poor people
– Shiftless minorities
– Spanish language billboards
– Snake-handlers
– Al Worthington of Al Worthington Chevrolet in Grand Forks, ND
– Solar wind
– The death of Billy Mays
– Infrastructure destroyed by the Sasquatch, Rodan, or both
– Reckless disregard for official signage
– Jews

But not inequality. So keep moving, there's nothing to see here.

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72 Responses to “NOTHING TO SEE HERE”

  1. bb in GA Says:

    Clearly a huge wealth tax is in order is the consensus I read from the Left.

    I get the ignorant feeling that if my small business, farm, and lands became super valuable via the Real Estate Fairy, dumb luck, hard work, or a some combination that the IRS and GA dept of Revenue would find a way to get a larger hunk of it after I pass than say… what Steve Forbes had to pay when Ol' Malcolm bit it what with Trusts, Foundations, etc. etc.

    I feel we have a bootstrapping problem here in that the people who make our laws are wealthy or aspire to be wealthy and it really isn't in their interest to pass laws that would eventually make their heirs turn loose of millions or billions.

    Unless we have an electoral revolution from the Left (closest thing to that looks like the Tea Party – which may not be populist enough to get to that issue) what is plan to break the log jam?


  2. anotherbozo Says:

    glad people are still commenting on this post. reading the comments on g&t is almost as rewarding as reading Ed's blogs, such is the nature of the constituency. however, I leap ahead of some unread contributors to add:

    re: the myth of American economic mobility: a study a while ago established that classes are less rigid even in England than here, ie, it's possible to move upward with greater ease there, statistically speaking. yet the mythology thrives here, makes TeaParty members, bums with patrician political views.

    re: the "class warfare" accusation, or the retort for your neocon co-worker: an unspoken class warfare has been waged since the republic was founded, make no mistake, and 99% of us are on the losing end. it's not necessary to be aware of a war to be in it. only to lose. maybe "class massacre" is more like it? to speak of class now (a word never mentioned in connection with this country when I was in school, except to quote those pathetic socialists from the 30s) is to acknowledge reality, and the first step in changing (?) it. naw, forget that last. nothing to see here.

  3. bb in GA Says:

    Everybody appreciates kind words, thanks.

    Everybody(even outright crazy people…hmmm) thinks themselves through their ideas and beliefs as reasonable.

    This is the place to come for someone with my set of I&Bs to be find out that "What you know ain't necessarily so." I am comfortable with the Amens and PTLs being reserved for the church house.

    Many of you are much more intelligent and schooled in these subjects than I am. You huff and puff and some more..and then you teach your POV and I appreciate that.

    Some of you are %^&& and you feel the same back at me I am sure.

    I detect the tremendous frustration of the 'run of the blog' contributors here. No matter what you think, I hope that all of these major problems have workable satisfying solutions in your lifetimes.


  4. Dick Nixon Says:

    I was a twenty-year old construction laborer from a lower class background. No skills and very little money. Today I am in the top quartile of earners, with a staff of people, a couple of degrees, nice house, family, money in the bank and have just put my second child through college. Am I one of those wonderful, frugal, bootstrap individuals that Truthin Trollity admires? Naw. The State helped me every step of the way.

    I went nights to a State University. In construction downturns I recieved unemployment compensation. I did well enough in school to get a teaching assistanceship from another University–and the State paid my tuition. I had some time to get the degrees because I didn't have to take care of my aging parents–they were on social security and medicare. Private enterprise liked my degrees, and I was able to get work and move up in a few organizations. I was able to get my first house on a 3% FHA loan–which provided the basis for better housing throughout the years as I traded up. When my kids decided to go to college I was able to get very cheap government sponsored loans for tuition and housing shortfalls– which I was fortunately able to repay.

    Sorry Truthin, but the government has not created a drone class– they help some people rise. One just has to have to have the humility to admit that one didn't do it on their own.

  5. Nunya Says:

    @ Dick Nixon

    Thanks for bringing up what most of us should appreciate. No matter how far we got, none of us got here on our own. Public schools, public universities, public roads, bridges, tunnels, law enforcement, fire protection, the military, all make this nation not only a safe place to live but also a safe place to do business.

    I'm amazed at how many successful people I meet who have never even considered the fact that the public university (or the private university subsidized by their parents) had pretty much everything to do with their success. Motivation and initiative is far more prevalent among the affluent than the poor, well, not considering the squalor they were raised in, the lack to a safe educational experience, access to good role models, etc.

    I've managed to do fairly well partly based on my own efforts but mostly based on the circumstances of my birth: Educated parents, a stable home life, good role models, and an a good early education that got the ball rolling.

    I've managed many people who were far smarter than I am but who lacked these advantages. I never forget that and am willing to forego far more of my earnings than I currently do to give them an opportunity to succeed.

  6. John Says:

    Yes, to mirror more recent comments — this is the heart of the divide between left-leaning and right-leaning ideologies, in most cases. People on the left side of the spectrum don't believe that Government™ is the answer to all problems. We just acknowledge its roll in solving some of them.

    Living in Georgia, I get a fairly regular helping of Boortz on my radio, and he's always going on about how horrible public schools are, how we need to destroy all the teachers' unions and give everyone vouchers (a particularly hilarious suggestion as then it's still tax dollars funding schools, except now we're subsidizing private institutions instead). And every time I hear him go on one of those rants, I think back to how I'm the only person in my immediate family with a college education, how I make more in my younger years than anyone in my family makes in their fourties and fifties.

    And I owe it all to the PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

    Sure, my parents motivated me, and I had a lot of self motivation. It wasn't exclusively the government that did it. But I would not be here without the government schools, and the government loans, and the government grants, and all those other horrible things that Republicans assure us are destroying our society. My family could not, in any way whatsoever, afford my higher education without federal assistance. And it has elevated me above my parents' stations in life.

    That same bootstrapping that the right keeps telling us we should all practice has taught me that the government has a key role to play in aiding the less fortunate section of the populace.

    Yes, there's that other horrible, evil phrase — "less fortunate". After all, life isn't about luck, right?!

    Except that my life choices had nothing to do with me being born into a lower-class family, nor do they have anything to do with someone else being born into a family with millions. Fortune, luck, fate has everything to do with that, and no amount of personal pluck and gusto will cover that gap of opportunity.

    That's why we believe in a government that does more than throw people in jail and kill foreigners.

  7. Robert Says:

    You notice how some people only call it 'class warfare' when working people fight back?

  8. Sarah Says:

    I know I am late coming to this party, but I'd like to point out that there were, in fact, several uprisings of various sorts (anti-wealth, pro-labor, anti-slavery) in the 19th and late 18th centuries which were put down with the use of troops (the word Howard Zinn keeps using is "militia" without specifying if that is state militia or federal troops–not that it really matters).

  9. Chris Says:

    I've seen some pretty lazy rich people: popping out of the right womb isn't exactly "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps". I've also seen people that work 2-3 jobs that only make enough money to break even. Doesn't mean they are lazy: quite the opposite, really. It's unfortunate when you have people who want to work and fight for a living, but the economy only throws them the scraps.

    I would rather a bunch of people get together and boycott a corporation that behaves in a way that people don't agree with (poor labor practices, unequal distributions of wealth, exorbitant CEO pay). If only I boycott, say, Wal-Mart, it is pointless. If 100,000, 1,000,000 or 10,000,000 people boycott Wal-Mart, it matters. Hit corporations in the pocket book and remind them who pays their salaries. Unfortunately, this is difficult to pull off.

    I agree with what somebody said before: small companies are better for America than huge corporations. In a small company, the boss probably knows you and has a better chance of giving a flying fuck about you, the boss doesn't make 20 mil, and there isn't the stockholder/bottom line pressure to put profits before people. I'm not saying small companies are perfect, but they are better for society than corporations in many ways.

    An unequal distribution of wealth is like putting all of your eggs in one basket. Didn't work out too well in 1929.

  10. Jimbo Says:


  11. MikeSimpson Says:

    This just HAPPENS to leave out the fact that the top earners also pay a higher pct. of taxes than they earn, I.E. the top 1% earns 19% of all wages but pays 29% of all taxes. The top Earners also pay a higher share now than they did BEFORE the so-called "tax cuts for the rich", which shows that the tax cuts did just what they were supposed to do—encourage more investment, which then lead to more profit, which then lead to PAYING MORE TAXES.
    The bottom 2/5 of wage earners actually pay very little income taxes at all, and the bottom 1/5 usually have a negative income tax rate due to EITC.
    I realize most here cant understand this, but the tax system IS a progressive one, and the "rich" have paid a larger share than they earn every year since 1979; and it has gone UP almost EVERY year.
    The truth is, once you start making over 100K a year, you're gonna get drilled.

  12. Green Says:

    Damn those rich people making all that money for themselves! Do you know most of them don't even work for it? They have all that money because they invest the money they already have buying things that would make them more money, or hiring people to do the actual work, or buying shares in companies that buy things to make money or hiring people to work.

    It's just not fair! They've made enough money.

    If the rest of us are going to have any chance in this world those rich people should be forced to sell all their stocks, shut down all their businesses and fire all their employees. That will keep them from making any more money and stealing from the rest of us.

    Trickle down economics is a lie! All we have to do is keep rich people from making money. If all those rich people stop making money that will just leave more money for the rest of us! And with all that money we probably won't have to work anymore either! Free at last!

    Bwahahahahahahaha! Some of you are actually taking this seriously, aren't you?

  13. Ed Says:

    Yeah, you were pretty convincing.

  14. Peter Niccum Says:

    The question that no one is asking and would allow us to see how bad or good these numbers are is: How does that distribution of wealth compare to other developed and undeveloped countries.

    I am guessing that were that analysis done, the US would compare very favorably with the rest of the world.

    Pins and needles

  15. Chris Says:

    Mike Simpson: are you a communist? You sound pretty mad that people aren't treated equally in taxation: perhaps everybody should make the same amount of money and then everybody can be equal!

  16. Heywood J. Says:

    Peter Niccum:

    The question that no one is asking and would allow us to see how bad or good these numbers are is: How does that distribution of wealth compare to other developed and undeveloped countries.

    Yes, if only someone would ask such a question. It's called the Gini coefficient.

    I am guessing that were that analysis done, the US would compare very favorably with the rest of the world.

    Bad guess. Hopefully you were being sarcastic. Sometimes it's hard to tell with some folks. Bottom line, we're neck-and-neck w/China, and behind Brazil and a sharply-declining Mexico. Other than that, not so much.

  17. Mike the Mad Biologist Says:

    I disagree agree with "Please note that this has nothing to do with our current economic problems." When you have a small group of people with excess capital, you tend to develop speculative, inflationary bubbles (hi-tech bubble of late 90s, real estate, etc.).

    People with too much money also want to park part of it some place safe, such as AAA rated investments; lots of people bought CDOs unaware that these were actually junk, not AAA. Likewise (as CDOs show), rich people with too much money are obvious marks, which leads to fraud.

    I would argue that the rise in inequality has everything to do with our current problems, to the extent those stem from the collapse of Big Shitpile.

  18. oldhat Says:

    This is amazing. Something pretty fin de siecle about it.

  19. Neil Says:

    @Heywood –
    Thanks for introducing me to the Gini Coefficient. I had never heard of it before and found it interesting. I am confused by one point, however. Gini seems to measure disparity in Incomes, whereas these graphs (and Niccum's comment) are addressing primarily inequity in wealth (except the one with CEO pay) – two very different things. For example, a person making a 6-figure income with a $1M mortgage and a $1M house might very well have a net worth (wealth) of $0, right?

  20. Robert Woodrow Taylor Says:

    Rome, one of the earliest, (if not the earliest), Republics, fell when it became an Ogliarchy. It seems to me that societies naturally tend to this, when it gets bad enough, then they naturally tend to have revolutions. The Ogliarch's tend to forget this.