Who Sits On All The Money?
October 10, 2013 8:49 AM   Subscribe

My informing animated video on wealth distribution was preceded by an advert for the new Jaguar F-Type. Apparently even the Guardian thinks I'm wealthier than I really am.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:16 AM on October 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Also done earlier this year about the wealth inequality gap in the US.
posted by Kitteh at 9:23 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think all animated videos on wealth distribution should just be Richie Rich cartoons.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:40 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's a nice video, but I don't think it does a great job of elucidating just how much of the wealth sits right at the very top of the top, or how far from the bottom you need to get before you register at all. The best metaphor I've heard for this is Jan Pen's parade:

Suppose that every person in the economy walks by, as if in a parade. Imagine that the parade takes exactly an hour to pass, and that the marchers are arranged in order of income, with the lowest incomes at the front and the highest at the back. Also imagine that the heights of the people in the parade are proportional to what they make: those earning the average income will be of average height, those earning twice the average income will be twice the average height, and so on. We spectators, let us imagine, are also of average height. Pen then described what the observers would see...

The linked article contains an illustration of it, but I've never been able to find an animation of it.
posted by Jakey at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Could use neoliberalism and Thatcher tags.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:59 AM on October 10, 2013

Read a stat yesterday that 33% of the wealth in Russia sits with 110 people. I have little against wealth, but at some point it becomes impossible to understand how so few can control so much.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:53 AM on October 10, 2013

Jakey's image: the foot at the end says it all.

I was recently a victim of the big guy. I won't go into details, but I was on minimum wage, my employer knew the legal loopholes better than me, could afford better lawyers, and the amount was substantial.

There cannot be justice in an unequal society, and there is precious little hope. I can only imagine what it's like in Russia.
posted by EnterTheStory at 11:59 AM on October 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

And that concentrated wealth wants to stay concentrated, so you can bet every twisted thing you can imagine it might do to retain itself will, inevitably, be done. Entire industries will be shifted from one nation to another, entire economic classes devasted, any amount of big-data metainformational spying to keep a finger on the pulse of the public, renditions and torture and drones, government shutdowns, the utter destruction of ecosystems — anything and everything advantageous to the interests of those few thousand people who hold the wealth and power of this world. Your quality of life, and your very life itself, is of absolutely no consequence. It does not factor in the least.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:00 PM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Astonishingly, drone attacks and Government shutdowns aren't a big driver of inequality in the UK, it not being part of the US and all. [sings McFly's "It's all about yoooouuuu"....]

Hats off to the pressure group behind this and the Guardian for linking to the source of this: Office for National Statistics - Total Wealth. Most of the wealth difference is not property, as I would have guessed, but private pensions. Also, state pension rights are not included in the figures, which (quick back of envelope) looks like they are worth about £150-200,000.

So the difference is more generational than the video suggests: rich people are over sixty and have no dependent children. Poor people are single parents. (Again, from the source data). Supporting families (very difficult) and single parents (easier, but we just cut child benefit for high-rate taxpayers, no luck if the marriage fails and the paperwork takes a while: also, huge poverty traps) look like appropriate policy responses. I'd also suggest removing some universal benefits for rich old people like the winter fuel allowance, because they took my child benefit, so I want payback, but that's probably insignificant sums. Building high-density housing where the work is, too? Capital gains on house sales? Oooohhh....
posted by alasdair at 1:55 PM on October 10, 2013

This is not a phenomenon restricted to the UK, in fact, inequality has been rising across the entire world for several decades now.
posted by smoke at 4:29 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm absolutely dumbfounded that with all the information about wealth inequality out there--talking hard facts and figures--so many people of the supposed 'middle class' don't believe that there exists such a disparity. I'm a tail-end boomer, and since I hang with so many retirees, I hear this crap all the time. WTF people! Wake up and look around you at what the next generation is dealing with!
posted by BlueHorse at 8:36 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, it has.

OECD Report: Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising.

Globally the incomes of the top 1% have increased 60% in twenty years. The growth in income for the 0.01% has been even greater. Following the financial crisis, the process has accelerated, with the top 1% further increasing their share of income. The luxury goods market has registered double digit growth every year since the crisis hit. Source: Milanovic, Branko, 2012. "Global income inequality by the numbers : in history and now --an overview-" Policy Research Working Paper Series 6259, The World Bank.
Dr Jason Hickel, LSE: "the income of the top 0.01 percent has seen even greater growth."

Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report:
Distribution of Wealth Across Individuals: Inequality Remains High

To determine how global wealth is distributed across households and individuals – rather than regions or countries – we combine our data on the level of household wealth across countries with information on the pattern of wealth distribution within countries. Our estimates for mid-2013 indicate that once debts have been subtracted, an adult requires just 4,000 US dollars in assets to be in the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, a person needs at least 75,000 US dollars to be a member of the top 10 percent of global wealth holders, and 753,000 US dollars to belong to the top 1 percent. Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1 percent of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest 10 percent hold 86 percent of the world’s wealth, and the top 1 percent alone account for 46 percent of global assets.

This working paper: (i) provides an overview of global, regional and national income inequalities based on the latest distribution data from the World Bank, UNU-WIDER and Eurostat; (ii) discusses the negative implications of rising income inequality for development; (iii) calls for placing equity at the center of development in the context of the United Nations development agenda; (iv) describes the likelihood of inequalities being exacerbated during the global economic crisis; (v) advocates for urgent policy changes at national and international levels to ensure a “Recovery for All”; and, (vi) to serve as a general reference source,
World Institute for Development Economics Research: " Global inequality across countries is high and rising."
posted by smoke at 4:38 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank-you for those links, very interesting. However, unless I'm misreading them, they say that inequality within countries is rising, but my point is that global inequality is falling. So there may be more rich Chinese, but there are also hundreds of millions of Chinese who have escaped from absolute, gruelling poverty. I think that's a good deal.
posted by alasdair at 3:53 PM on November 6, 2013

« Older Playing Space Invaders on a mountain   |   Lana! LANAAA! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments