A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies

Wealth Inequality in America

This superb six-minute video builds on pioneering research about American attitudes toward wealth by economists Michael Norton and Dan Ariely. Most Americans, the research shows, would like to see wealth in the United States much more equally distributed than they believe it is. But most Americans underestimate how staggeringly unequal the United States has become. Thanks to politizane on YouTube.

  • Beverly Kurtin

    As a victim of the Bush crash of ’08, I resent that my entire life’s savings were totally destroyed by the bank into which I had entrusted my savings. Like most Americans, I’ve worked hard all my life, starting at age twelve. Frankly, I enjoyed working and wish that a massive hemorrhagic stroke had not put me in the group known as “the disabled.” When I saw the handwriting on the television, I requested my bank to sell all of my shares and place them into a CD. By the time they got around to selling my shares, they had shrunk to about 9% of their value; so much for a comfortable retirement.

    Now I am part of Romney’s 47% who rely on the “government” for my income. WHOA! I’m not relying on the government, I paid into FICA for over 50 years and am simply getting my tax money back as promised. The top 1% would love to see Social Security cut and Medicare eliminated along with Medicaid.

    WHY? So they can redirect our hard earned FICA into THEIR pockets somehow.
    I do not resent the wealthy who got wealthy by working for their money. I abhor the wealthy who got that way by stealing from their corporations.

    If the multiple millions of dollars CEOs get should be going into their employee’s pockets. The claim is that the shareholders should get the profits. It is the PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR THE CORPORATIONS WHO MAKE THE PROFITS. It is beyond time that the odious “bonuses” (even failed companies give their top guys millions of dollars) go to the employees.

    It is beyond time for another revolution in this country–not with guns, with voting more intelligently at the ballot box. THINK before voting the next time and get the Pubs OUT, they’re the ones who are holding everything up in Congress.

    We are no longer a democracy; we are a plutocracy run by the oligarchs. We cannot permit this situation to continue to exist. The rich need to be taxed the way they used to be taxed until “Saint Reagan” messed up our society.

    God has abandoned America.

    • James Ritchie

      There was no “Bush crash”. What planet do you live on where a president can cause a crash? Certainly not earth. Being stupid with investments caused you to lose your money. You certainly had some kind of stroke because nothing you say makes any sense at all. Those with your complete lack of economics should invest money in anything. You’re a prime example of ” a fool and his money”.

  • nyrker

    So should I give away money? I don’t understand how equality can be achieved. You have to work for money. In order to work you have to go to school, learn a profession or trade. How come no one criticizes money stars or rappers only corporate officers come on give me a break. Oprah Winfrey is very very wealthy I don’t hear anyone speaking out against her.

    • knowzit

      Obviously, no one criticizes entertainers because we pay to be entertained. We decide how much we’re willing to pay, based on what we think the entertainment is worth to us. The same is not true for CEOs. I’m pretty sure NO ONE thinks a CEO is worth the grossly bloated amount of overpayment he is receiving.

      • Yankeelawdog

        That may be true but my hat’s off to the individual who battles their way to top to gain the position of CEO. Just because I didn’t do it or don’t receive “bloated” earnings should not disqualify the person who does.

    • Yankeelawdog


  • Yankeelawdog

    While this is intriguing I question the factual data this was based on in relation to “actual” wealth vs poverty. How was this actually determined? Presumably it was based at least in part on filed tax returns and the number of people who reported their income. It also doesn’t take into consideration how much the so-called wealthy and rich contribute or donate to private charitable causes which provide a great deal of assistance to the poor. There is no question there is a disproportion between the wealthy and poor but how is that “skewed?” When something is “skewed” it’s for a reason and I’m not sure that is either objectively understood or explainable

  • grizzdotcom .

    I just love all these quaint people who seem to think they have a right to “wake up” and steal another person’s wealth out of greed. It’s disgusting, really. The working class is not “entitled” to the wealth of the higher classes anymore than a homeless person is “entitled” to take up residence in your home.

    • honestycounts1

      The higher classes aren’t entitled to the wealth of the middle class, they lay off workers and ship jobs overseas, since less employees the more profitable the company and the bigger the salaries of the top earners. It is the such who are stealing people’s jobs and livelihoods to fill up their own piggy banks. The top earners have gotten that way only because of the society enables them to, it is them who owe society.

      • grizzdotcom .

        They’re not stealing jobs they’re giving jobs to people in third world countries without unions. If you want your jobs back work for as little as people over there, it’s called competition. I’d like to see our consumer society last a month without the corporations that provide for us all.

  • googleface

    does anyone know the software that was used to make this video?

  • John Bouman

    I don’t see how your website can call this video “superb” when there are so many flaws in it. For one, the video confuses wealth with income. A relative of mine has earned $100,000 each year for the past 30 years. He is not poor in terms of income. However, he never saved anything (he likes to spend) and so his wealth is $0. Should I subsidize this person, as the video suggests? Another point neglected by the video is the dynamic nature of our wealth (as well as income). Many start-up, young households have little wealth. However, later in their lives, assuming they do the responsible thing and save, they will have accumulated much more wealth. Should we subsidize the young households, as the video suggests? Some re-distribution of incomes or wealth is fine, but let’s face all the (correct) facts first before we draw conclusions.

  • James Ritchie

    I suspect most Americans are smart enough to understand that wealth inequality is completely meaningless. It’s just a socialist’s way of trying to change things so that no one has much of anything. There is no such thing as wealth equality. Never has been, and God be merciful, never will be. No one is poor because if wealth inequality. They’re poor because they make stupid life choices, or because they spend all their time bitching and moaning about wealth inequality, rather than getting off their asses and earning more money.

  • carrstone

    Work hard[er]? Try working smart[er]; it’s not my quote, I know, but really… if you’re so badly done by, why d’you go on shopping in their store?

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