Americans Nearly Unanimous on 'Ideal' Wealth Distribution, But Unaware of Real Levels of Inequality

By Catherine Woodiwiss 3-07-2013

This week's viral video is a must-see. The six-minute "Wealth Inequality in America," released Friday, presents the shocking, true size of the wealth gap in the country.

In a series of animated infographics, the video lends a visual punch to numbers that are hard to wrap one’s head around. The top 1 percent of Americans hold 50 percent of all investments in stocks and bonds, for example – while 80 percent of Americans share a paltry 7 percent of the nation’s wealth. 

But most interesting are the gaps between where Americans think we are and where we really we are when it comes to wealth. A full 92 percent of Americans agree on what a healthy, ideal wealth distribution curve would look like — one that is far more equitable than what we think is the case. (“That is telling, admittedly,” says the narrator. “The fact that most Americans know that the system is already skewed unfairly.")

But this perceived gap between ideal and reality is pocket change compared with the true state of inequality – an ugly curve in which the poorest and middle class are a barely-indistinguishable line while the top 1 percent is, quite literally, off the charts.  

What's encouraging is how united Americans are on how wealth should look in our country. But this video is proving to be a real wake-up call to how far we are from that goal. Take a few moments to watch the sobering video below. If you've seen it, it bears watching again and sharing.


Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor for Sojourners

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