Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Gap Between Rich and Poor

According to a new survey put out by Bloomberg and the LA Times, Americans see the widening gap between rich and poor as a serious national concern. A few of the key observations:

-What the "poor people" think about the gap: according to the results of the poll, 84% of people earning less than $40,000 a year say the growing gap is a "serious problem", and over 50% say it is "very serious."

-What the "rich people" think about the gap: more than 60% of those who earn more than $100,000 a year said it was a serious problem.

-Bloomberg also added that "the portion of national income earned by the top 20 percent of households grew to 50.4 percent last year, up from 45.6 percent 20 years ago; the bottom 60 percent of U.S. households received 26 percent, down from 29.9 percent in 1985, according to the Census Bureau"

-The average pay of corporate CEOs rose to 369 times that of the average worker last year, compared with 131 times in 1993 and 36 times in 1976

You open up a can of worms when you discuss issues like this. On the one hand, I'm very much in favor of capitalism and free markets. On the other, I sometimes feel like there are people in the United States who are monopolizing the country's wealth and opportunity. These are the people who inherit their wealth and do not have to work for it.

Yes, I think one of the perks of making it big in the United States should be the ability to provide the very best situation for your kids. But I also think Warren Buffett's philosophy that he wants to leave his children "enough money that they can do anything, but not enough that they can do nothing" is a better approach than handing billions of dollars to someone who never really worked a day in their life.

I do think there should be a gap between rich and poor though. It gives people something to aspire to. It represents the American dream. Should it be as large as these numbers show?

I don't think so.

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