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This Viral Video Will Change How You Think About Wealth Distribution in the U.S.

Like Occupy Wall Street in infographic form, this simple video makes extreme inequality impossible to ignore.

Ready to get mad? Here’s 6 minutes and 24 seconds of outrage in the form of a simple animated infographic video with narration that illustrates the extreme wealth concentration among a tiny percentage of the U.S. population. The narrator gains effectiveness by pointing out that 92% of Americans agree a far smoother distribution of wealth would be preferable.

The video, posted by an anonymous YouTube account known only as Politizane, was produced last November, but it seems to have begun rocketing around the web when it was shared two days ago on Reddit and subsequently on Upworthy, a startup dedicated to spreading socially redeeming memes.

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  • Ecnomist

    Gee. . .doesn't this sound completely outrageous?  Guess what folks, it's never been any different.  In fact, "wealth distrubution" is more even now than ever.  The only difference in conditions is perception, and the reason?  It's the internet.  You're just getting educated to a long-term reality. 

  • Richard Chimelis

    This is a total falsehood. This degree of inequality has not been a constant at all. In 1976, the top 1% held 19.9% of the wealth in the U.S. while in 2010 they held 35.4%, with that figure increasing every year since. However, the imbalance is not the core of the problem--the incredible level of greed, immorality, the lack of consideration for the rest of society and the total disregard for the devastating effect this is having on the health of our society now and into the future. This is not a consistent historical condition in our lifetimes. Shame on our apathy and ignorance.

  • Ardie Cocinar

    Sooooo what is the point of this video? Because someone has been able to amass a fortune, he/she has to share it with the rest of us? If you take out the outlier, the graph is much closer to the ideal. Do I ever get envious because there are people that have more money and capital than I'll ever have access to? Of course, that's human nature. Does that mean I sit around, bemoan my fate, and demand fiscal equality? Nope, I still have my life to live. I'm grateful for what little I have, and am proud to say that I've earned all of it. Did I have help? Yup, and I repaid in interest. There are those that do and those that do not. Why can't the liberals or fans of socialism, ever remember the hero JFK?...."Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." There are those whom genuinely rely on the government for support (truly disabled, mentally handicapped, and impoverished children) But I'm afraid we have become an entitled, hand out society. Where is the pride? My wife and I have waited to have children while I'm in school so we can get by on her limited income. I could go the route of fellow students and have kids for food stamps, WIC, tax deductions, AHCCS (State of AZ medicare), daycare and so on; but no, I never want to be a burden to anyone. So instead of having kids and being a drain while I'm in school, we bought a house and pay property taxes on it and are supporting the economy. Not because we hate kids, but because we were wise, and had the forethought to plan. In a short year or two, I will start my family and instill in the children the same beliefs I have; if you want it, you earn it. Do not leverage your future for passing fancies. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. And when you need help, you make sure you have exhausted all other options and made every sacrifice before you go into debt.

  • neutral_corner

    The belief that the only alternative to the current distribution of wealth in America is welfare and food stamps is pretty well dismissed at the start of the video, when the author clearly indicates that socialism doesn't work and is neither the proposed solution to the crisis nor even a minority of Americans' "ideal" profile of distributed wealth. It's also astonishingly condescending to look at 6 or 7 out of 10 Americans' assets as relative pocket change and assert, "you people are stupid and lazy, whereas I am smart and responsible."

    The point of this video is that the United States has both an economic system and a political echo chamber in which citizens vote against their own self interests, and that passing laws and electing legislators and executives in order to bring about a system of wealth distribution that is in line with more than 9 out of 10 Americans' idealized wealth profile is not, in fact, socialism -- nor does that system of laws and regulations need to take the form of a redistributive welfare state where government doles out checks to its citizens. Health care reform, progressive taxation, resource conservation and tax reform for offshore assets/operations/shelters are just some -- but clearly not all -- elements of a system whereby the United States can place an emphasis on jobs rather than welfare, while simultaneously putting a greater share of our collective national wealth back into the hands of our working and middle classes, where it can be invested more democratically. It's no surprise that the widespread consolidation of industries like banking, aviation, media and agriculture have happened at the exact same time in our history as this nearly unprecedented consolidation of American wealth -- the last time it happened a century-and-a-quarter ago, we saw the first great Progressive uprising in the United States, and that Progressive uprising also happened to coincide with the United States becoming a top-tier global superpower.

  • Rainbowbeach

    You are mistaken in thinking that the conditions described in the video are supportive of your 'self-motivated' and independent ideals. The situation presented in the video describes the creeping development of a new feudalism, not a system of fair and free-enterprise.
    The video tells one half of the story - what is happening right now. The other half is how this situation came to be and how it is progressing . The video alludes to this bigger picture by stating how significantly the proportional income of the 1% has increased between 1976 and 2012. 
    The point is that a mechanism is systemically at work that is steadily impoverishing the vast majority whilst obscenely enriching a tiny minority. This enrichment gives the 1%, and the 10% below them, a powerful dominion over the key resources that the rest of us need to survive - land, water, energy, etc. We then each have to work increasingly harder, if we are 'lucky' enough to have jobs that let us work the necessarily long hours, just to rent back from the 1% the basics that we ned to survive each and every day. 

    Don't think that you own a house simply because you are paying out a mortgage on it. The GFC foreclosures should be stark enough evidence of that illusion.

    These people own you, they own your family, and they own your collective future. They do this fundamentally by owning all of the money that you and everyone else needs to borrow to get anything done beyond basic day-to-day subsistence. They then own the collateral you put up to secure that loan - in essence your lifetime paying it back. Try to differentiate between freedom and slavery and the critical factors that determine the difference.. Your true freedom depends uoon it.

  • Bartacamus

     and how did this 1% amass such fortunes.....? looking at the latest recession we have enough proof to see that most of it wasn't acquired "legally" - so to speak....

  • Cgreetham

    The point of this was to show that this country is no longer going to continue to be if we continue along this path.  Inequality like this is not sustainable.

  • firstPostEver

    So, what's the answer?  Mandatory education for the bottom tiers?  Mandatory work ethic?  MBA's for everyone?  No more baristas; everyone MUST start a dotcom sensation?  Forced savings/investing?  Maybe person can only be a janitor for 2 years, then they MUST become VP?

    Oh, no.  None of that.  Let's just TAKE from the top tier and redistribute it.

    A more valuable study would be a Happiness chart.  It would be much more equalized, and THAT's all that counts.


  • neutral_corner

    The only answer to a distribution of American wealth that more than 9 out of 10 Americans find astonishingly unfair is for the government to simply take it from the wealthy and hand it to the poor?

  • I Debt Therefore I Am

     Mandatory education = Already exist in most part to keep workers from actually entering the work force.

    MBA's for everyone = They are earning MBA's and becoming baristas.

    No more baristas = See above. Baristas have degrees and are able to recite Shakespeare in 3 different languages while making your coffee, cafe, kawa etc.

    Start a dotcom = And get paid in bit coins

    Forced Savings = LOLOLOL seriously though.... You can only save and invest after you have used your claims on debt to purchase essentials such as food. I guess instead of buying pink slime steak you could purchase dog food and stash a little claims on debt.

    Janitors = Will soon have college degrees.

  • Ardie Cocinar

    I agree with the satyr of the original comment, and the basic points of Gcarey. First off, we do have an internet VC, it's called Kick Stater. Great place to get small ideas going and to raise capital. Second, your idea of bringing real wealth growth vs stock growth is also good, but with the caveat being this is the system we already have. Value is generated by a company that is good at what it does. Apple, Google, Microsoft etc...Investors see this value and want to have a slice so they buy shares. The value of the company increases, because America likes winners, and people in stock market get rich. The employees don't see the increase of the stock directly (unless they have stock options) but they get the benefit of working for a booming company, and steady income. The company has enough capital from sale of product and stock to expand, hiring more employees. This increases the value and it is an upward spiral....Capitalism does work, people just aren't taking advantage of it. You are only worth what people are willing to pay you.

  • Gcarey

    Excellent presentation of statistical information. Please emphasize the sources for the data. All I hear for the doubting Thomas's are whether the data is correct or not.

    The solution is to have an equitable tax policy and opportunities to make money again here in the US other than via the stock market. Like bringing back a robust manufacturing economy to the US and all that is required to make that happen. Wean ourselves from the fossil fuel based energy sources and get into job creating and quality of life and happiness index increasing clean energy sources as we seek to restore our amazingly beautiful country to a vibrant life enhancing economic and ecological environment.  How about using the web as a people's VC group who can start up a business. Create a website that brings people with good ideas and people who can make those ideas happen as a business team and proposes it to the people in a public forum instead of some VC fat cats. How many illnesses are not addressed today because they don't fit the economic model for the big Phama's to make money ... Say Dr. Soanso thinks he has a cure ... put it up to the people to invest and keep the books of all such companies open and transparent to prevent the hucksters and fraud.  You get the idea use the engine of capitalism for others than the 1%. Just a thought! I am sure you have some as well.

    We are choosing a distopian fatalist view that we can't change the status quo or the current state of ecological pollution and economic inequities. We have the technologies we have the science and the skills, we need the will as a people as a country as a planet to do this.
    Think globally and act locally a nice 60's catch phrase ... doesn't mean it isn't correct .. kind of like do unto others as you would have them do unto you ... true then true now ... the power of the people can be harness via the internet today quicker, more effectively and precisely than ever before in history ... we need to use these technologies to do just that. ... just need to will to do it.

  • Bob Smith

    If the super wealthy have either criminally, or unethically, but technically legally (like "bribing" politicians to pass laws in their favor) padded their bank accounts, they should be forced to give it up.