Can you explain this elusive concept of the “1%” and the better method for distributing wealth in the US? Or point me to literature that would help demystify it? My dad was saying that wealth is “infinite” and it isn’t correct to say people own “1% of the wealth.” Is it ok to buy into Bernie’s shtick and be filled with anger towards the wealthy in this country? I think I’m just bummed I can’t afford SF. Help!
First, watch this video:
It’s the quickest, most powerful education about wealth inequality in America you’re gonna get.
Also, your dad is an idiot. Wealth is not infinite. Wealth is a fluid concept, but until we no longer live on a planet with limited resources, not only is wealth limited, but it will inevitably be concentrated amongst a powerful few. Like a relentless gravitational force, wealth coalesces and flow back into itself, creating grotesque power systems ranging from the Catholic Church during the medieval period to the financial services sector in contemporary late-stage capitalism.
While the concept of wealth may be increasingly abstract, within a given monetary system, the wealth of individuals can be accurately measured by their net worth. (A person’s net worth is all their assets minus all their liabilities.) When it comes to high net worth individuals, it’s not about how much money they have in the bank. It’s about how much they own (businesses, real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.) versus how little debt they have.
It’s all about ownership, and your father is wrong, because the 1% really do own an outrageous percentage of everything that there is to possibly own, and the rest of us don’t own dollar store dick. What’s worse, is most of us (especially Millennials) have a negative net worth because of crippling student loans and consumer debt.
Now, there’s no general reason to be filled with anger towards wealthy individuals in this country, (except for the Rich Kids of Instagram — those fuckers should all die in a fire.) What we should be angry about is the rigged system that perpetuates wealth inequality in America, and the simplest way to fix that inequality would be to close all the sheltering loopholes and ratchet up estate taxes to previously unheard of rates. Rich people get to stay rich as long as they’re alive, but when they die, the American people get most of that money back instead of it going to the next generation of spoiled rotten heirs and heiresses. All we’d have to do is sit back and wait a few decades as all the hoarded wealth steadily flows back into the treasury where a progressive government uses those funds to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, schools, and eventually the middle class itself.
That’s all it would take. It would be a renaissance of the American dream. Unfortunately, that kind of thing could never ever happen. Even a guy like Bernie Sanders couldn’t pull that shit off as President of the United States without getting totally JFK’d.
To quote the anarchist philosopher Lucy Parsons, “Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth,” and boy, was she ever right.