Please Expose Yourself to This Virus: An Animated Look at Wealth Inequality


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Graphic showing wealth inequality in America

Before you click the video: imagine for a moment how you think that wealth is distributed among each 1% slice of the American populace. Take a moment, draw a curve, if you’re willing to do so. Now watch the video and test your belief against the truth.

This 6-1/2 minute video from mashable.com has apparently been going viral since last Friday.  It takes a static chart that I believe I may have published here before and animates it, with narration.  It’s amazing what a little animated narration can do.  Here’s a link to check out and share, but I’ll also embed the actual video itself below.

In my pre-law-school experience as a social scientist, dealing among other things with issues involving race, I often found that what led people to what seemed like self-defeating outcomes was not that they had bad values or morals but that they had rotten information.

If you believe that we’re on the verge of mandated income inequality, such that the wealthiest 20% of our society makes the same or maybe just a tad more than the least wealthy, then of course all sorts of terrible consequences will occur to you.  If you think that the ratio between income among the top and lowest 20% is 10:1, maybe you think that that’s not enough and maybe you’re right.  Once we decide that we’re talking about a 100:1 ratio, even if you’re conservative you’re probably calmed down a bit.  But what you may not fully comprehend is exactly what we’re dealing with right now in our society.  Well-narrated animated pictures make that reality clear.

The pertinent thing that’s left out of this video is: “what do the super-wealthy 1%  (and especially the super-duper-wealthy .1%) do with all that money?”  The answer is: buy power.  Fix the political game so that the income of the wealthy is undertaxed and so that that will become almost impossible to change.  It’s like a computer virus that embeds itself into the rootkit of the operating system of our society.

I had a surprisingly unfriendly conversation this weekend with an elderly stranger who, unbeknownst to me, has been holding a grudge against me for the past year — ever since I and the members of Occupy Fullerton got a resolution that he disliked past the Fullerton City Council. The conversation ended up turning out much better than it began, but it took quite a while. I found that the man did seem to have quite a humane core — he was proud of the things in his personal and professional life that one ought to be proud of — and that he did generally seem to understand the underlying problems that would lead us to what may well have been — I don’t agree, but I won’t debate it here — an imprudent resolution. As I recall, we agreed in particular — and this man was no socialist, not one bit — that the skyrocketing wealth disparity since 1980 creates real significant problems.

I don’t remember if he chuckled (or maybe grimaced?) when I said it, but when I said it I was completely serious: we could disagree very much about the meaning and the significance of various “trees,” but if he and I saw the same forest than he, too, should have been in the Occupy Wall Street movement. And, no less importantly, the Occupy Wall Street movement, even if it meant working with a parallel organization for people who consider themselves to be embedded deeply within the mainstream, should have tried harder to find a way to work with the likes of him.

Does that seem absurd? Let me know what you think after you spend 6-1/2 minutes with this video.


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Runs for office sometimes, so far to offer a challenge to someone nasty who would otherwise have run unopposed. Someday he might pick a fight intending to win it rather than just to dent someone. You'll know it when you see it. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. A family member works part-time as a campaign treasurer. He doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he hated. He does advise some local campaigns informally and generally without compensation. If that changes, he will declare the interest. He also runs a less frequently published blog called "The Brean," for his chosen hometown, where he is now fighting with its wealthiest and most avaricious citizen-donors. This just seems to be his way.