We don't begrudge folks for making money. Even a lot of it. But money travels a long way in some places and a little in others. A million bucks in New York City is chump change. A million in Beatrice, Nebraska is sweet, sweet music. Kinda makes sense. Beatrice doesn't have the Museum of Modern Art, nor do they have millions of high-octane inhabitants packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes (Sting quote).
What's interesting, however, is that Nebraska as a whole harbors almost 41,000 millionaire households. Go cornhuskers! Not sure if any of them are in Beatrice; nonetheless, who would've thunk it?
Nebraska's neighbors are faring even better. Kansas has 62,000 millionaire households. Iowa 71,000. Missouri 122,000. Maybe Missourians should change their slogan from "The Show Me State" to "Show Me the Money State."
Or maybe not.
That's because, there are 33 others states with a higher percentage of millionaires per capita. In fact, America hosts 10.8 million millionaire households - a record. Yee -haw. And, we've doubled our millionaire households since 1996, regardless of that little thing called the Great Recession.
If you get in your car and drive about 14 hours due east to Bethesda, Maryland, chances are you're going to bump into a millionaire wherever you go. In fact, Maryland gets the crown for the most millionaire households per capita at just under 7 percent. Maryland also happens to be a hop, skip and a jump from a diminutive district with a name that might ring a bell. Washington D.C. The place where history lives and compromise dies.
Funny thing is, the dearth of compromise within that spherical space on that famous hill has not affected enrollment in the millionaire's club. In fact, partisanship has been an absolute boon, especially for both sides of the Beltway aisle.
Guess you can say it's a matter of "firsts." Here's what we mean.
Income inequality is at its worst since the Great Depression, the time when folks stood in bread lines for blocks. Today, the adjusted poverty rate in D.C. hovers around 23%. Yes, 23%. So while you District residents stand in lines for coffee or a bagel, take a look forward and backward. Chances are you're looking at a bunch of poor people. Most remarkably, however, is that, as Inequality.org cites, "Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 40 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 198 times the income of the bottom 90 percent."
But here's the real kicker. Amid all of our current income doom and gloom, the majority of Congress is now represented by charter members of the millionaires club. The folks for whom we punch ballots every two to four years, the ones we implore to give us "a fair shake" are the ones that use our donations for a limo ride to the country club after a pit stop at the bank. As most folks try to figure out where the hell their money disappeared to, Capitol Hill has capital oozing from its pores. And btw, the wealth of one - ONE - member of Congress equals that of 18 U.S. households.
Don't think for a moment that elephants outweigh donkeys. Truth is, Democrats have a slight edge over Republicans in net worth.
Most Americans watched in horror as the walls of Wall Street came tumbling down and directly onto the backs of the Average Joe or Jill - the economic ruins dubbed The Great Recession. Homes lost. Jobs lost. Marriages lost. Even lives lost from the angst that overcomes the heartiest among us. But how is it that barely a decade removed, the richest have not only become whole again but whole plus a whole lot more, while the rest continue to wither on the vine?
America has more millionaires than the next nine countries combined. According to Forbes, The wealthiest Americans are worth $2.4 trillion, roughly equivalent to the GDP of Russia. This is yet another first. Their average net worth is $5 billion, $800 million more than the year prior. All tolled, there are more than 540 U.S. billionaires, each deciding which one of his 20 bathrooms and 30 classic cars to try on for size.
There are 40 million U.S. citizens living in poverty. Half will straddle into poverty territory during a given year. But no matter how many times we hear the words "income inequality," we heave a heavy sigh and write another check to the billion dollar utility company or the billion dollar insurance company or the billion dollar lending company or the billion dollar retail company or the billion dollar medical company.
It is widely perceived that the founding fathers sought some semblance of balance, of fairness. But they themselves were the chosen ones, the men of means. Throughout our history, and with very few exceptions, the most pervasive of rules has been established to protect and preserve a pecking order, a survival of the fittest, and by fittest we don't mean physically.
We don't advocate violence. But we do fantasize about cold-cocking a billionaire or two or twenty or.... or maybe we just continue to do due diligence on well-heeled jack-offs whose boot heels depress the larynxes of the under-moneyed.
There is no fair play.
There is no fair pay.
There is no middle class.
There is no end in sight for the stricken mass.
Rich people win.
Over and over and over again.