U.S. Income Inequality Worse Today Than During The Slavery Era

Historical perspective via the Huffington Post:

Believe it or not, income inequality in the United States is worse today than it was back in 1774. That’s what a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research has found.

In “American Incomes 1774 to 1860,” authors Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson argue that the American colonies were exceptionally egalitarian, compared to both other nations at the time and the U.S. today. And their data even factors in slavery.

NBER’s is not the first study to contend that income inequality today is worse than before. A 2009 study looking at data stretching back to 1917 found that American income inequality was at an all-time high. Likewise, two historians concluded last year that income inequality today is worse even than it was during the Roman Empire [when] the top 1 percent of Ancient Roman earners controlled 16 percent of the Empire’s riches, compared to the top 1 percent of American earners today who control 40 percent of the country’s wealth.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    “We like our own problems down here just fine, Mr. Do-gooder, so you can just keep your ‘solutions’ to yourself, thank you very much.”

    This is the message I got, loud and clear, when I had the poor judgment to engage a band of white trash in a discussion of progressive politics a couple of months back. It depressed me so badly that I couldn’t bother to write sh*t since then.

    White trash do not cultivate lofty ideals or philosophies, for the very practical reason that nobody really cares what they think.  Even the people who believe they are trying to “help” them come in with pre-fab ideological programmes that are totally indifferent to their thoughts or feelings.  To the extent do-gooders engage with them at all, it is only to put them down and demonstrate their complete lack of mental and moral fibre.

    For them, life is, quite simply, just a brutal farce from which nothing can be hoped but to minimize their humiliation.  To this end, the only maxim these people need is, “Don’t ask any questions you don’t want the answers to.”  Which effectively means, “Don’t ask any questions.”

    White trash hate do-gooders more than plutocrats because plutocrats are more straightforward.  It is easier to avoid the wrath of plutocrats because it’s pretty clear that all they want is your money.  Do-gooders are the absolutely worst variety of *sshole because they offer pie in the sky, deliver nothing and treat you like an idiot for your troubles.

    At least when you cheer a plutocrat, you are offered the chance to humiliate some other dupe, preferrably a do-gooder.

    And now, as this study seems to indicate, a permanent majority of American voters seem destined for the same evolutionary track as white trash.  Awesome.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    “We like our own problems down here just fine, Mr. Do-gooder, so you can just keep your ‘solutions’ to yourself, thank you very much.”

    This is the message I got, loud and clear, when I had the poor judgment to engage a band of white trash in a discussion of progressive politics a couple of months back. It depressed me so badly that I couldn’t bother to write sh*t since then.

    White trash do not cultivate lofty ideals or philosophies, for the very practical reason that nobody really cares what they think.  Even the people who believe they are trying to “help” them come in with pre-fab ideological programmes that are totally indifferent to their thoughts or feelings.  To the extent do-gooders engage with them at all, it is only to put them down and demonstrate their complete lack of mental and moral fibre.

    For them, life is, quite simply, just a brutal farce from which nothing can be hoped but to minimize their humiliation.  To this end, the only maxim these people need is, “Don’t ask any questions you don’t want the answers to.”  Which effectively means, “Don’t ask any questions.”

    White trash hate do-gooders more than plutocrats because plutocrats are more straightforward.  It is easier to avoid the wrath of plutocrats because it’s pretty clear that all they want is your money.  Do-gooders are the absolutely worst variety of *sshole because they offer pie in the sky, deliver nothing and treat you like an idiot for your troubles.

    At least when you cheer a plutocrat, you are offered the chance to humiliate some other dupe, preferrably a do-gooder.

    And now, as this study seems to indicate, a permanent majority of American voters seem destined for the same evolutionary track as white trash.  Awesome.

    • Anarchy Pony

      I’m fucking surrounded by these people. It is a strange combination of heart breaking and infuriating.

    • Anarchy Pony

      I’m fucking surrounded by these people. It is a strange combination of heart breaking and infuriating.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Keep the faith.  From the outside, and I’m sure quite often from the inside, it must look like a a pointless act of narcissism to keep replaying a game of “Prisoner’s Dilemma” that you never win.  But it’s not.

        You’re sustaining, however, faintly, the expression of a very profound archtype in the human psyche: nobilitas, the ideal union of the freedom and commitment at its highest pitch.  This is a notion so deeply engrained in the human soul that it never ceases trying to express itself–though it is often perverted from its course by evil customs.

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        Yes it is.

        Imagine how bad it is when you’re directly related to them. Unless you are related to them, in which case you don’t have to imagine and should instead please accept my empathy and condolences.

        My advice is cultivate detachment and keep your eyes open for the occasional “sport” that they’ll throw. Sometimes you can help that one.

        Sometimes.

    • Andrew

      Perhaps Ragnar Redbeard was right.

    • Andrew

      Perhaps Ragnar Redbeard was right.

    • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

      to me it seems
      a problem of the Bell Curve’s distribution of “intelligence”
      the white trash and all underclass people
      are the people of the middle & lower distribution of the bell
      the great unwashed masses, the herd
      they don’t have the luxury of thinking beyond necessity
      nor the wit with which to appraise their options
      in an increasingly complex and hostile environment

      you can lead a horse’s ass to water
      but you can’t make him think

      he that hath learned no wit by nature nor art
      may complain of good breeding or comes of a very dull kindred

    • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

      to me it seems
      a problem of the Bell Curve’s distribution of “intelligence”
      the white trash and all underclass people
      are the people of the middle & lower distribution of the bell
      the great unwashed masses, the herd
      they don’t have the luxury of thinking beyond necessity
      nor the wit with which to appraise their options
      in an increasingly complex and hostile environment

      you can lead a horse’s ass to water
      but you can’t make him think

      he that hath learned no wit by nature nor art
      may complain of good breeding or comes of a very dull kindred

      • Calypso_1

        There are “white trash” above a single standard deviation of the mean.   And they are well adapted to let you think their deviation trends in the other direction.   It’s a cunning not to be taken lightly and far more likely to carry shades of sociopathy than their more fiscally situated cousins. 

        • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

          the intelligence of the top 5% of the herd
          puts them at variance with the remaining 95%
          some will use that variance to exploit the herd
          some will try to help the herd
          and some will try and get as far from the herd as possible

          unfortunately, the intelligence of the wealthy elites is also distributed similarly
          so only a small number of the wealthy (~7,300 people)
          actually have enough intelligence to use wealth wisely
          the rest squander it on trinkets & debauchery 

          • Andrew

            Most of the stupidity of the lower 95% of the herd is cultivated, manufactured, and inculcated by the top 5%.

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            could be
            but a certain portion of the 95% are complicit as well
            it’s easy to see that W. and many politicians
            are not the brightest bulbs
            but they were/are very compliant
            compliance is more useful than intelligence to the elites
            information/edumacation merely reinforces compliance

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            I might hasten to add:
            those who are not mentally impaired are
            on average
            smarter than the herd
            but nonetheless
            seem to be unable to break from the herd’s mentality
            I place some blame for this on edumacation
            but it’s also plethora things modern
            that stupefies absolutely

  • http://twitter.com/alizardx A.Lizard

    Self-identified Futurists who tell us about our coming glorious technological future generally don’t know enough about the present and history to realize that when a society is run for the exclusive benefit of its most wealthy and connected, it’s a predictor of doom for that society, not paradise, unless drastic political change takes place first which puts power in the hands of people with fewer bad habits. (like suicidal stupidity)

    It used to be that an elite could only sink its own society. Now that we have a transnational global elite, we have a single point of failure for the whole world.

    “The Singularity” may be the collapse of technological civilization, not nerdvana. In fact, that’s where current trends point.

    Read Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” for case studies of elites driving their societies into complete extinction. (including the elites themselves)

    • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

      I enjoyed Jared Diamond’s _Collapse_ and it was very good.

      I’ve been looking forward to reading Joseph A. Tainter’s _The Collapse of Complex Societies_, but for whatever reason I’m just too cheap to buy it. I always “cheap out” at the last minute when I realize what else I can buy with 37 bucks.

      Ultimately it doesn’t matter, I suppose. I’ve got enough chickens, guns, ammo, and printed books to sustain me through any “Singularity” that doesn’t involve an actual Schwarzschild radius.

      Maybe I need to get that Tainter book before it’s too late. Imagine the regrets I’ll have when the only thing I have to do all day is shoot would-be chicken thieves and obsess about not having bought that book. But no, for 37  bucks I can buy two more bricks of .22 ammo or…

    • Anarchy Pony

      That’s Jared Diamond.

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        Yeah, but wouldn’t it be cool if it were Jared Leto instead?

        • Anarchy Pony

          He did play the athletic pride of southern Oregon Steve Prefontaine.

      • http://twitter.com/alizardx A.Lizard

        fixed, thanks.