Over at DailyKos Mark Sumner has a fantastic diary titled "Fiscal Inequality: Godzilla vs. Ants." In it, Sumner compares the wealth inequality in America and puts together a great visual representation of the differences in American wealth broken out into percentiles. He suggests that if one looks at the situation this way, it is easy to understand why our policymakers have a very, very difficult time making out the faint whine of the hundreds of millions of average Americans over "the basso profundo rumble of the 1%" giants.
I highly recommend clicking the link above and checking out what Sumner has to say. But in case you don't, here is Sumner's visual representation of wealth differences in America:
The "Godzilla" in the center represents the wealth held by the top 1% of Americans. The next biggest figures represents the wealth held by those in the 96% - 99% range, proportionate to that held by the top 1%. The next biggest figures represent the proportionate wealth held by those in the 91 - 95%, and the next biggest figures represent the proportionate wealth held by those in the 81 - 90% range.
And then, the teeny, teeny figures at the bottom, the ones smaller than commas, the ones that look like ants or even dust mites . . . those figures are - proportionally speaking -- what those of us in the 1% - 80% range in this country look like, compared to everyone in the top 20%. It's hard to even see us, and yet no matter how much the others dominate all of us in the bottom 80%, the top 1% still looms over everybody.
Summer goes on to point out that "[e]ven within the one percent things are heavily weighted toward a very few in the top 1% of the 1%" and that he would have attempted to illustrate how large a figure the top 0.01% of America would be by this representation of proportionate wealth, "but the image wouldn't fit on the screen."
Seriously, you should check it out.