The Donald, of course, is the poster child for wealth inequality. He revels in his wealth; he even exaggerates his wealth. But he is, beyond doubt, in the top 1%, very likely the top 0.1%, of the richest persons in the United States.
Toby Morris, the excellent author of Pencilsword, had a post a while back on wealth inequality in his country, New Zealand, and addressed it in the usual Toby Morris way, with lovely cartoon of Wealth-Gap Tower. It’s worth a look.
WC can’t produce anything remotely that effective. But WC can borrow the idea. Instead of carton tower, WC will use The Donald’s home, Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York. The grandiose skyscraper, completed in 1983, aspires to be the epitome of extravagance. It comes off instead as a kind of model for hyper-self-indulgence.
It’s the home of The Donald himself, as well as the campaign headquarters for his presidential campaign. It was the setting for the Trumpster’s idiot “reality” television show, The Apprentice. Its tenants have included José Maria Marin, the disgraced former President of the Brazillian Football Confederation and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the ex-dictator and incredibly evil warlord of Haiti. Nice neighbors.
So, instead of Toby Morris’s random skyscraper and the Kiwi’s wealth problems, we’ll scale the United States’ wealth inequality to the Trump Tower. A place that charges $5,900 per month for a one bedroom apartment is kind of the poster child for wealth inequality.
For data on wealth inequality in the United States we’ll use 2007; there’s more recent stuff out there – and it shows the problem here has only gotten worse – but WC wants to be conservative. So we’ll use Edward Wolff’s 2010 report as our source materials. Using that data, we’ll examine who occupies which floors of Trump Tower.1
The top 20 floors are occupied by the wealthiest 1% of the United States. In 2007, they controlled an appalling 34.6% of the national wealth. Over a third of Trump Tower would be tenanted by just 1% of the population.
The next wealthiest 4% of the population occupy the next 16 floors. They control 27.6% of the national wealth. You have to wonder how the poor dears cope. Put another way, the wealthiest 5% of the population would control 36 of the 58 floors of the Trump Tower.
The next 5% of the wealthiest folks get by in about 6.5 floors of Trump Tower. This group has about 11.2% of the national wealth. They round out the top 10% of the wealthiest Americans. Collectively, they would occupy 46.5 floors of the 58 floor Trump Tower.
The next 10% of the wealthiest citizens get 7 floors with about 12% of the nation’s wealth.
The next 20% of Americans control about 10.9% of the national wealth, and rate and rate a smidgeon over 6 floors in Trump Tower.
The “middle 20%” of American wealth – 40% above and 40% below – gets just two floors. They control just 4% of American wealth.
The remaining 40% of Americans, those below the “middle 20%”? They have just 0.116% of America’s wealth, and rate a little over 1/10th of a floor. It’s so small that WC can’t do it to scale; it wouldn’t be visible.2
If current trends continue, in about 202, the top 1% of Americans will control over half of the United States’ wealth.
Why is this increasing concentration of wealth bad? A 2014 study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern concluded that government policies reflect the desires of the wealthy, and that the vast majority of American citizens have “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy . . . when a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”
If you think for a moment that the Donald is going to do anything to reduce wealth inequality in the United States you’re fooling yourself. The Donald is the problem, not the solution.
- Snickering at WC’s crude drawings is entirely permissible. But remember you aren’t here for WC’s dubious drawing skills. ↩
- You can make the case that the total wealth of the lowest 40% of Americans is actually negative, pulled down by the huge debt that group carries. Maybe the sketch should show that 40% in the basement? ↩