15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America

Oh please. In the 50’s we were owed massive war debts, cheap oil, and the only industrial system that had been strengthened rather than decimated by the second world war. We couldn’t NOT prosper.

I did not argue that higher taxes were the key to prosperity, just that it didn’t inhibit the prosperity of 50s.

One another note, it also seems strange that some prosperity must come at the misery of others such as the destruction of the industrial base of Japan and Germany. I wonder if positive sum gains is possible for the world, or we will enter a zero-sum geopolitical competition.

Nobody claims that such tax rates prevent prosperity, simply that they ‘hurt’ prosperity.

One another note, it also seems strange that some prosperity must come at the misery of others such as the destruction of the industrial base of Japan and Germany. I wonder if positive sum gains is possible for the world, or we will enter a zero-sum geopolitical competition.

It doesn’t ‘have to’- but when the competition gets eliminated, you find yourself in a nice position.
Prosperity can come just as easily from increases in technology/investment in human capital/infrastructure. In fact, in terms of exports, the prosperity of another nation may often be very good for outside economies.

Actually, low taxes push down wages:

How Supply Side Economics of a Low Tax Regime Pushes Down Wages

In recent decades, an intuitive myth has been pushed on the unsuspecting public by Supply Side economists that low taxes encourage corporations, employers and entrepreneurs to create high paying jobs. But the counterintuitive historical truth is that a progressive income tax regime with over 90% for top bracket incomes actually encouraged management and employers to raise wages. The principle behind this truth is that it is easier to be generous with the government’s money.

In the past, when top corporate income tax rate was at over 50% and personal income tax rate at over 90%, both management and employers had less incentive to maximize net income by cutting cost in the form of wages. Why give the government the money when it could be better spent keeping employees happy.

It follows that the low income tax rate regime leads directly to excess profit from stagnant wages which leads to overinvestment because demand could not keep pace with excess profit due to low wages. Says Law on “supply creating its own demand”, which Supply Side economists lean on as intellectual premise, holds true only under full employment with good wages, a condition that Supply Side economists conveniently ignore. To keep demand up, workers in a low wage economy are offered easy money in the form of sub-prime debt rather than as paying consumers with living wages, creating more phantom profit for the financial sector at the expense of the manufacturing sector. This dysfunctionality eventually led to the debt bubble that burst in 2007 with global dimensions.

Wages began to stagnate as the tax on top icome bracket fell, while the financial elite was keeping luxury goods maker busy by using the pension fund of worker to move jobs to low wage economies overseas. As American workers marvel at the low price import at Walt Mart, and their pension funds were giddy with high returns, their own jobs at home are disappearing as the wages and benefits ofr those still working fall below living wage levels. The average American wage earner has very little reason to support a lowering of the top rates in a progressive income tax regime if they understand that employers would rather give tax savings to employees in higher wages than pay high taxes to the government, given the same after-tax net profit.


But according neoliberalism, high real wages are not inherently a good thing, since under that framework, it is seen a symptom of the pathology of inflation.

It doesn’t ‘have to’- but when the competition gets eliminated, you find yourself in a nice position.
Prosperity can come just as easily from increases in technology/investment in human capital/infrastructure. In fact, in terms of exports, the prosperity of another nation may often be very good for outside economies.

So much for the notion that competition increases prosperity!!!

So if the government doesn’t force you to use your money to help the less fortunate, then you don’t help them? If not, what percentage of your net income to you give to the less fortunate?

What percentage do you give? What percentage does the average person on this forum give? Is it more than 1.7% of their income?

Individuals gave a combined 75.6% of the total. With bequests, that rises to 83.4%.

The biggest chunk of the donations, $96.82 billion or 32.8%, went to religious organizations. The second largest slice, $40.98 billion or 13.9%, went to education, including gifts to colleges, universities and libraries.

About 65% of households with incomes less than $100,000 give to charity, the report showed.

“It tells you something about American culture that is unlike any other country,” said Claire Gaudiani, a professor at NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and author of The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism. Gaudiani said the willingness of Americans to give cuts across income levels, and their investments go to developing ideas, inventions and people to the benefit of the overall economy.

Gaudiani said Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7%. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73%, while France, with a 0.14% rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany.


Actually from a link posted by another post on this forum. Do you think 2% could adequate fund private charities to take on the functions of a modern welfare state in developed countries?

As for me, I give about five percent, and I would like to add that I am never a “grateful” donor of charity. Some people on this forum say that they are grateful that they are able to help the homeless by giving them money since it is an opportunity for them to perform the corporal works of mercy. However, simply having the opportunity means that there is suffering in the world and that their needs are not adequately being taken care off, so that is not something for one should be grateful for. Furthermore, giving to charity sometimes makes me feel dejected, instead of happy knowing that I made a beneficial difference, when I look at issues from a macro perspective as it reminds me that I do not have enough resources to make a meaningful difference in the world or in my country because my individual contribution is so small. I suppose that is why I find a coordinated approach such as state taxation and government programs are more effective (although not efficient) at solving some problems concerning material welfare. While some individual acts of charity are certainly virtuous, as I use the word “some” to intentionally exclude charitable acts motivated by ostentatious displays of wealth or pretension, they are simple ineffective relative to a coordinated state approach.

So you would rather give the gov’t your 5% and have most of it go to waste rather than doing any real good.

You propose an argument, and a deeply flawed one at that with no historical evidence presented, rather than a proof- the incentive to reduce costs (wages included) ALWAYS exists regardless of the tax rates. If not to increase profits, then to lower costs and outcompete your competitors or to be able to hire more people and produce more.

High or low real wages are completely unrelated to inflation- that would be high NOMINAL wages.

I don’t know how you could stand by and casually observe China’s economy rising like a skyrocket and claim there is no powerful socialist or communist superpower acting as anything. That aside, I dont’ understand what you mean by your various terms since you have not specified what YOU mean when you use them. What I get from this is that your view is that because technology improved, our standard of living improved, therefore we should make more money. Well that doesn’t have to happen for one’s standard of living to improve. Electrical appliances have fallen in price, meaning one who couldn’t afford something 25 years ago now can. How many TVs or telephones were in an average household in 1970 compared to 2010, do you think?

I am willing to bet that you are a conservative pro-life Catholic. You probably believe that the “right to life” … should be apportioned on one’s humanity which is a relatively egalitarian belief.

I don’t understand what this has to do with a discussion on WHY people’s wages must go up over time, but I am a pro-Life Catholic. Conservative, you’d have to define that. Some people think conservative Catholic means you are with the SSPX. Some think it means you are a Catholic with conservative political views. Hard to answer when I don’t know which, if any, you mean.

The CCC teaches that sexual relations must be open to the possibility of new life. It does NOT say new life that passes a human litmus test of quality. God breathes that life into existence, not the doctor, not the parents, and not liberal Catholics. If you believe what the CC teaches, then you take the life God puts in your care and you do your best, even if that means you can’t have a boat or an iPhone4 or nicer clothes. When you try and interject humanist views on a sacred gift, you’ll always end up in confusion and disorder. Interesting, isn’t it, that parents who choose to respect that life and keep those babies find great joy in those children, even in the face of great difficulty in terms of their time, their convenience, and their financial status.

Should one accept that parent’s have the right to base their decision to carry the child to term based on other variables besides the fetus’ existence such as the burden of parental responsibility that they have to undertake or the child’s projected adult intelligence …?

Not if they recognize the truth. Jesus Christ said, and I quote, “I AM the Truth…” The Church he founded and the Holy Spirit inspires teaches that it is wrong to reject human life on the basis of difficulty. That decision, if it’s going to be made, is properly made before engaging in sexual relations. If you can’t live with the possibility of a Down’s Snydrome baby, then you don’t risk behavior that could result in it; you don’t participate in the creation of such a life then destroy God’s gift because you don’t like it.

If you believe that is IS okay to do that, then tell me how you reason that an elderly grandparent, needing the exact same amount of resources to continue life, should be kept alive? You can’t. Neither can you reason to continuing care to patients in comas or those who have suffered a great deal of injury in a car accident. What you end up with is that each human life is apportioned to a dollar figure instead of being priceless. Maybe you want to live in a world like that; I sure don’t.

If some Catholics accept your reasoning for economic inequality, why not accept the wishes of 90% of parent’s whose infants were diagnosed with down syndrome to have an abortion because they do not respect the sanctity of the fetus’ existence?

Because they are comparing apples to oranges. All I am saying is that there is no automatic “right” to equal results in the economy. More below.

I strongly believe that the state (and its citizens) should taken on the obligation and responsibility of supporting the material welfare of its citizens. If that means a system of highly progressive taxes and reduced economic liberties, then I will be happy to pay if I can make a financial contribution that enables the state to undertake this burden effectively. To me, this is the most important political issue.

Well that’s your opinion. I don’t think this government was created to do that. It has obligations, such as ensuring fairness in opportunity, but it has no dictate to require mandatory equal results. If I can get the same quality of life sitting on my sofa watching TV than the salesman who is out there, away from his family and busting his butt to earn a good living, then why should I ever move off my couch? I can just sit and complain that I’m not getting what the other fellow is, and under your policies he (and you and everyone else) should have to give up something of yours so I can be “equal” and have a large-screen plasma and faster internet.

The government does, in my view, have a certain role in this. No one wants anyone starving in the streets. If people lose jobs or fall on hard economic times, it’s one thing to provide a minimum existence to ensure they aren’t sleeping in a dumpster and have a hot meal. We don’t have only that, though. We have people who make a living of working a minimum of time then collecting unemployment because it provides more than enough for their bare existence, it actually provides a standard of living they are willing to accept.

That is a far cry from trying to make everyone “have equal” something. If someone is willing to work 4 more hours a day to obtain more, what’s wrong with that? Why should their EXTRA effort go to George across the street when he is unwilling to work any extra at all?

Exactly. Marxists see sin where there is no sin, and see no sin where there is sin. In their minds, there can only be economic “sins”, such as hiring someone else, or designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling a product or service which benefits others, or lending money to those who don’t have any. These are all terrible “sins” in their minds.


You mean to say that envy is NOT one of the cardinal virtues?! :wink:


Here is a “mind blowing” fact: For the most part, rich people engage in behavior that makes them rich, and poor people engage in behavior that makes them poor. Why not show slides on the % of each group’s performance in school, each group’s average age they had children, and other factors that impact income.

Interesting how there was no chart on how the “rich” currently pay a higher share of the federal income tax pie than their share of the income pie. There was one slide on how federal tax rates have dropped for the rich…well duh, when the poor don’t pay federal income taxes, how can it drop? If you pay zero (which 47% of americans currently pay), it won’t drop any more…the floor has been reached.

For the person so eager for equality of outcomes…perhaps when their is equality of effort, risk, performance in school, and general behavior, then we can talk about equality of outcomes.

Maybe because it has to do with a just social order?

A number of Popes (Leo XIII Rerum Novarum; Pius XI Quadregesimo Anno; John Paul II Laborens Exercens) have done exactly that. I strongly urge you to familiarize yourself with these encyclicals and Catholic teaching on social justice.

I don’t think they wrote these encyclicals because they were consumed with envy, which is what you suggested motivated those who are concerned about income distribution.

Yeah, yeah what garbage, let’s see my parents [WWII generation] never made more than $15,000 dollars a year.

Myself and my three older brothers are all homeowners bought and paid for we are far better off than our parents were—so the heck with those stupid charts.

The blame America crowd is always whining how bad off they are yet they’re probably sitting back shoving coffee down their throats in an air-conditioned room with high-speed Internet crying woe is me the evil rich won’t give me any money. :crying:

If you hate America that bad GET OUT or at least start a business then after working your butt off you can be rich too.

Wow freedom what a concept! :eek:

So you do believe that the economic status quo is a reflection of a “just social order” and the government should leave the wealthy alone and protect their privilege to enjoy their wealth unmolested by the government?

If so, what have they done to merit their wealth? Have most of the wealthy (defined by a net worth of $100 million and up), not just a few selected examples such as Sergei Brin, Larry Page, Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, or Bill Gates, done anything that has benefit the common good (defined by global welfare or even considering the welfare of people in developed countries) while generating wealth such as provide access to information or increasing computer processing power that would not have been done by someone else?

If you think Catholic Social teaching demands equality of income, then cite your source from among those documents you mention.

I wonder why, if the Church teaches what you suggest, they do not put it into practice in a domain that they control. Why don’t they ensure every parish gets the same distribution of income? If all the rich folks in town attend St. Peters and St. Paul’s is in the poor section of town, why aren’t they diverting funds from Peter’s to Paul’s on a routine basis?

Nowhere in any of those documents does the Church suggest a tax on one group to elevate the standard of living of one group to match the standard of another. They speak of governments (and people) having an obligation to take care of the poor and to provide at least a basic sustenance so that people can survive. If our government is providing that, via WIC, foodstamps, housing, utility bill assistance, etc.,and our charities are supplementing that, as as individuals we are supporting both and maybe helping in ways on our own initiative, then we are following the teachings. Is it perfect? Probably not, there is always more to do, but that is long way from ensuring someone who doesn’t work extra hard or extra long gets the same as those who do.

You might take notice of Jesus’ own words; "I was naked… (not wearing less fine clothing)… I was hungry (not eating macaroni while you were enjoying a steak)… I was thirsty (not drinking water while you had a nice glass of Chablis). These words suggest sharing what you have with those who have NOT, not supplementing those who already have in order to make them equal.

In the parable of the vineyard, workers are paid a different scale (the same amount for different amounts of work done) and what happens to the fellow at the end when he whines that he didn’t receive “equality?” Did Jesus say, “You’re right, that wasn’t fair? We need to work on our Social Justice?”

My post does not even ethically demand equality of income, it just questions whether the current status quo is just.

No one believes in an exact equality of wealth and income; instead, I believe that natural inequalities should primarily be utilized to increase the standard of living of everyone and mitigate any negative effects from those inequalities.

I just asked a simple question:

So you do believe that the economic status quo is a reflection of a “just social order” and the government should leave the wealthy alone and protect their privilege to enjoy their wealth unmolested by the government?

If so, what have they done to merit their wealth?

I do believe inequality itself is harmful, but not necessarily something that must be fought at all costs if there are counterbalancing mitigating factors? Is there more leisure time or higher real wages for most people since the 1970s (or 50s)? The question of real wages are posed in the context of expenses such as housing, health insurance, transportation, and day care (for BOTH wage earners of the modern family) which are the largest expenses for family, not obvious retorts such as the availability of computers and other gadgets. In other words, has growing wealth inequality resulted in greater material progress, higher living standards, and economic security in the absolute sense? If greater income inequality even has those benefits, are they large enough to justify the detrimental effects of income inequality?

Lol. How can one defend sitting here examining a list of 15 ways to look at how much money the rich have?

My question to you is why is this any of your business? If someone is wealthy and didn’t break any laws becoming wealthy, it, and I must state this emphatically, is none of your business, and it certainly is none of the government’s business.
If your desire for “social justice” amounts to simple envy, your solution will amount to simple thievery. Income redistribution through property tax (income is private property) is a violation of Church teaching and natural law.

The wealthy would reply: “Law, what do I care about law? H’aint I got the power?”

No, answer the question instead of invoking ad hominems about my motivations to evade it.

In the process of acquiring their wealth, did the wealthy make significant contributions in human knowledge or contributed to material progress? One can rely on macroeconomic data to support the supposition.

I actually possess a profound respect for conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and Paul Craig Roberts. Where are the conservatives who share their economic views at least? They do not advocate socialist redistribution, but they have the common welfare in mind and are intellectually well equipped and sincere conservatives.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.