Say everyone in a society of 100 people is given one to 10 apples a day. This is their wealth. Imagine in that society one individual, and only one, was given one whole orchard a day. Not a small, in-your-backyard apple orchard but a whole orchard that you get scared you may get lost in. That is the wealth inequality in America.
In a study done in 2021 it was found that the top 1% holds 27% of the nation’s wealth, and after years of steady incline this wealth is greater than the combined wealth of the middle class. This is not only appalling but also contrary to what most Americans imagine. Though most seem aware that the top 1% is wealthy, they are not aware of how egregious this difference truly is. How the lives of this 1%, this small portion of America, diverge so drastically from the life of the average American. And when we observe how the middle class does not hold as much wealth as the top 1% it is clear that the reality of living in the United States moves farther and farther from the story of the American dream we are told. The farther this gap widens, the less hard work and success become correlated.
People may boast that America is the wealthiest country in the world but in reality, America simply is where some of the wealthiest people live. And this rising wage gap is attributed to numerous factors. Taxes are one more obvious factor. It is important to understand that when one discusses wealth inequality they are not just talking about how much money one person has. They are talking about assets: business and property among other things. Understanding how assets are taxed compared to income and how tax laws have changed can reveal why the rich are so much richer. More importantly, these people are not just individuals, but individuals who are highly integrated within corporations, and the current tax system does not only tax the bracket of rich people less but also corporations less. And the effect of this has been drastic in increasing the wealth inequality within the country.
Even worse, money also means that many of these corporations and individuals have considerable sway in the formation of laws, which likely explains why this trend continues. Even worse than that, in schools the narrative regarding finance has not yet changed. We are still sprouting the story of the American dream. We are still told that if we work hard, go to college, and work hard at our job that will be enough. But it is no longer enough. In a world becoming more and more dominated by a smaller portion of people, the average American needs to be taught how to accumulate assets. But more importantly, and first, the average American deserves to know that the systems in America are no longer aimed at creating “rags to riches” stories but instead create almost a divide within the country.
Money is not the source of happiness. But in a capitalistic society where everything has a cost, money — an object which at its essence is just an idea — has far greater control over our lives and decisions than it should. And that is not the only consequence. As the gap widens, two groups begin to emerge. And where such divides increase, conflict brews. Something needs to change. Awareness of this inequality is just the beginning. In so many ways it falls to lawmakers to make decisions, specifically regarding taxes, once again for the average American.
“the current tax system does not only tax the bracket of rich people less”
Source? Is this counting unrealized capital gains?