Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided.
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