I'm not so sure that wealth redistribution is what is exactly wanted or necessary, not from Joe to Jim.
I think that what most people want is rather opportunity
redistribution: the chance to work for and earn an amount that affords a decent,
The numbers in the study cited are far out of date, as the inequality has exacerbated over the past few years as the economy has worsened.
We are now at levels exceeding the inequalities of the Roman Empire:
Over the last 30 years, wealth in the United States has been steadily concentrating in the upper economic echelons. Whereas the top 1 percent used
to control a little over 30 percent of the wealth, they now control 40 percent. It’s a trend that was for decades brushed under the rug but is now
on the tops of minds and at the tips of tongues.
Since too much inequality can foment revolt and instability, the CIA regularly updates statistics on income distribution for countries around the
world, including the U.S. Between 1997 and 2007, inequality in the U.S. grew by almost 10 percent, making it more unequal than Russia, infamous for
its powerful oligarchs. The U.S. is not faring well historically, either. Even the Roman Empire, a society built on conquest and slave labor, had a
more equitable income distribution.
To determine the size of the Roman economy and the distribution of income, historians Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen pored over papyri
ledgers, previous scholarly estimates, imperial edicts, and Biblical passages. Their target was the state of the economy when the empire was at its
population zenith, around 150 C.E. Schiedel and Friesen estimate that the top 1 percent of Roman society controlled 16 percent of the wealth, less
than half of what America’s top 1 percent control.
Even the CIA's figures show a dangerous level of inequality, as shown by the Gini index:
This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. The index is calculated from the Lorenz curve, in
which cumulative family income is plotted against the number of families arranged from the poorest to the richest. The index is the ratio of (a) the
area between a country's Lorenz curve and the 45 degree helping line to (b) the entire triangular area under the 45 degree line. The more nearly equal
a country's income distribution, the closer its Lorenz curve to the 45 degree line and the lower its Gini index, e.g., a Scandinavian country with an
index of 25. The more unequal a country's income distribution, the farther its Lorenz curve from the 45 degree line and the higher its Gini index,
e.g., a Sub-Saharan country with an index of 50. If income were distributed with perfect equality, the Lorenz curve would coincide with the 45 degree
line and the index would be zero; if income were distributed with perfect inequality, the Lorenz curve would coincide with the horizontal axis and the
right vertical axis and the index would be 100.
The US Gini index for 2007 was 45, pretty much the worst of any developed nation, on a par with dictatorships and mismanaged African and Central
The European Union, Sweden, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Russia and even China beat the US with Gini numbers of 30.4, 23, 34, 31.4, 30.5,
37.6, 42.2, and 41.5 respectively. We keep company with the likes of Argentina 45.8, Bulgaria 45.3, Cambodia 44.4, Cameroon 44.6, El Salvador 46.9,
Iran 44.5, Mozambique 45.6, Peru 48, and Singapore 47.8.
The worst were Nambibia 70.7, Seychelles 65.8, South Africa 65, Lesotho 63.2, Botswana 63, and Sierra Leone 62.9.
There are far more countries with better numbers than ours, and these were from 2007. Pretty much every indicator shows the inequality has worsened
considerably since then.
And remember, those figures relate to income
distribution, not overall wealth, which is even more skewed.
A wealth cap has been under discussion in this thread, and the discussion is interesting, to say the least:
One person should only be so rich
I personally believe that a wealth cap of $1 billion should be globally implemented, with those over cap allowed four years to bring themselves into
compliance by donating their excess tax-free to nonprofits, reducing the national debts, and otherwise giving it away to reshape economies and the
edit on 31-12-2011 by apacheman because: (no reason given)