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The Surprising Truths About Income Inequality in America: Big Issues: GQ


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"Guess what, compatriots? The gap between the richest and the poorest among us is now wider than it has been since we all nose-dived into the Great Depression. So GQ sent Jon Ronson on a journey into the secret financial lives of six different people on the ladder, from a guy washing dishes for 200 bucks a week in Miami to a self-storage gazillionaire. What he found are some surprising truths about class, money, and making it in America."

My favorite line is from the woman he calls Ellen:

"Happiness is having 20 percent more than you imagine needing. The trick is not to be too rich."

Great article, Jared.

See also We've been brainwashed by the rich for another variation on this theme.

After reading this, you should read secret fears of the super rich.

It talks about the psychology of wealth, and it's fascinating.

That was a great article, too. While I find it easy to believe their findings, I also would like to see a more in-depth breakdown of the mentality of those that 1)came from nothing and worked their way to wealth 2)born into wealth 3)"got lucky" or suddenly wealthy from lottery, getting into the right company at the right time, rich dead uncle, etc.

The most interesting profile was the one about the young couple in the Midwest. Several things popped out:

* They had two toddlers. Except for the super-rich guy, they appeared to be the only profilees with kids.

* They were paying 21% of their gross income for health insurance, and expected that to go up every year at a rate far exceeding inflation.

* They formulated it as "for state and federal taxes they take about [10% gross]". I'd be surprised if this family paid any federal income tax, so they really mean that FICA is being withheld from their paychecks. It is VERY CLEAR that without withholding -- in other words, being compelled to do so by the government -- this family would not feel able to save any money for retirement or for potential disability.

Seems to me that this couple, who is only one notch above abject poverty on the income ladder portrayed in this story, is representative of most of America. It's astonishing how many more steps are above them on the income ladder than below them!

Yes, that's the couple making $50k a year and they represent the vast majority of Americans.

Both the guy making $10k a year and the author (making $250k a year) represent a fair number of Americans.

The folks making $1.25mm/year, $6.25mm/year, and $30mm+/year, represent a very, very small number of Americans.

I'm also reminded of The Hollowing Out, which talks about the future of joblessness:

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so i take PW conversations and turn them into real life ones too...economy, jobs, wealth, and sci-fi all in one...i love life

" Mike: you know how people say "when the kids in elementary school graduate from college, 30% of them will work in jobs that don't exist yet" or whatever

what if the pace of technological change and automation results in not 30% of 'new jobs' but 30% less 'real jobs'

so, on one hand, consumer goods become more advanced than ever

including minor biomodification etc

but double-digit unemployment is a permanent feature of future society

me: player piano

Mike: well, yes, I started thinking of sci fi

Mike: anyway, most of what I read doesn't exactly regard this problem with any degree of optimism

me: no i just read an article off PW nonetheless

about this

Mike: stephenson: tribalism and corporatisml widespread violence and massive underclass

me: how growth can be achieved with even less workers

Mike: what I'm reading now: completely changed universe based on ability to be uploaded or not (doesn't really allow for possibility of non-stacked individuals, would be interesting)

charles stross: virtual reality is the only way out and the eventual destination

unless you look at his more literal, earlier novels"