If you have six minutes to spare, I strongly recommend watching this video.
It’s the best illustration I’ve ever seen of America’s horrific maldistribution of wealth. And it came to my attention at just the right moment; after I’d written a long diary about Governor Shumlin’s budget plan. Specifically, his plan to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit and use the money to make child care more affordable. The basic theory being, if you remove a few barriers, then the poor can work their way up the economic ladder and attain a measure of security and success.
After viewing this video, I’m even more convinced that it won’t work.
To me, the key graphic is this:
The gray-on-gray text is a bit hard on the eyes, but this chart shows the absurd concentration of wealth at the top end. (The curve rises so sharply that, for the top 1%,the vast majority of their wealth doesn’t fit on the screen — it soars way up into the stratosphere.)
The problem with Shumlin’s plan is it seeks to move people from the bottom 10% to the next tier or two — get them into the middle class, where they would presumably enjoy some financial stability.
However, the next 10% and the next 10% and the 10% after that are hardly any better off than the bottom 10%. They are perilously close to the raw edge of poverty.
So, let’s say the Governor’s plan works. Poor people find jobs and manage to hold onto them.
Well, those jobs pay so badly that they offer little or no security or stability.
Our economy isn’t a “ladder” anymore. It’s a flat expanse that gradually rises to the base of an insurmountable cliff. And everybody in that flat expense is basically in the same boat.
Even if Shumlin’s plans were absolutely brilliant and certain to work as designed, all he would do is deliver some people from the bottom 10% into the 10th or 20th percentile, where they would be one single misfortune away from tumbling back into poverty.
This chart and this video also render completely ridiculous the Governor’s assertion that our tax system is quite fair enough, and the wealthy can’t afford to be squeezed any more — not even a tiny bit more. That’s a big fat f*cking lie, and he should stop saying it.
Given the current income distribution, the only way to balance our books is to pull more money out of the top ranks. Because, as Willie Sutton used to say, that’s where the money is.