Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Your Mind... With Facts

A lot has been made recently about the alleged uneven distribution of income in the United States.  The Occupy Wall Street crowd ("Flea Party" as Ann Coulter calls them) is attacking the so-called top 1%.  USA Today had an article yesterday on the front page on "The Fading Middle Class" and referenced the statistic that the top 20% of households collected 50% of all U.S. income.  Granted, this is clearly not consistent with the ideals of communism or socialism but is it much different than in other countries in the world?

You never see these statistics in the media as they relate to other countries.  I was curious how the U.S. compared to other nations on this metric.  After all, in any society ever known to mankind there have been rich and poor people.  It was true in Babylon, Athens and Rome as well as in Moscow and Havana.  A quick trip to Google provided some information.  I could not find any information on the top 1% but I did find the numbers for how much of each country's household income was earned by the top 10% in each nation.

The United States is actually way down the list when it comes to the concentration of income in the top 10%.  We rank 77th out of 139 nations in the data compiled by using CIA World Factbook sources.  30% of national household income is held by the top 10% of households in the U.S.  The average worldwide is 31.5% meaning that income is less concentrated in the U.S. among wealthy households than it is in the world at-large.

Here are some of the countries that have more income concentrated with the wealthy than we have in the United States.  Canada (46%), Columbia (45%-the drug lords do pretty well down there and don't seem to be sharing it very well), Brazil (43%), Chile (42%), Taiwan (40%), Kenya (38%-perhaps President Obama should be focusing more on class warfare in his father's country?), Mexico (36%-no wonder we get so many illegal immigrants coming across the border), Turkey (33%), Venezuela (33%-Sean Penn wants us to be more like this socialist country?),  Argentina (33%), India (31%), Russia (30.4%-that's right, the former Communist country).

The United States has essentially the same concentration of income as Communist Vietnam and the Totalitarain regime in Iran.  They are #78 and #79 on the list.  There was no information at all for communist Cuba and North Korea.  They don't have much income to spread around anyway and what they do have undoubtedly ends up in the pockets of the party elite.  China is listed as being toward the bottom of the list but this seems very suspect.  This article states that the top 10% earns 65 times the amount of the poorest 10% in China (and this is a Communist country?)  I doubt that the Communist Chinese want to publicize their actual numbers too openly or broadly.  It does not seem to fit the party platform they are selling to the people.

The European Union average concentration in the top 10% is 25.4%.  Of course, their economic model is not working out too well for them right now.   Greece, Italy and Spain (the debt-laden countries of the EuroZone) all have about 26% concentration in the top 10%.  However, the lack of future growth is the biggest problem these countries face in servicing their debt.  Could it be that the incentive to get rich and get to the top 10% helps everyone?  While they are banging their drums at Occupy Wall Street they might want to occupy their minds with that thought...and the facts above.

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