30 Times People Made It Clear To Everyone Else They’re Rich Without Even Trying
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Institute for Policy Studies has been tracking the rapid growth of rich Americans' assets, and it's become one of the most disturbing reminders of inequality during a crisis that has devastated ordinary families.
As the U.S. approaches 1 million deaths from Covid-19, the country's billionaires have seen their combined wealth rise over $1.7 trillion, a gain of over 58 percent during these challenging times.
So when internet personality Bilal Harry Khan tweeted about the disconnect between the classes, it really struck a chord with other Twitter users.
Image credits: TweetsByBilal
"Overhearing rich people's conversations always cracks me up," Bilal said. "The things they casually do in their social lives truly remind you how broke you are." In just a few days, his words received 136,000 likes and, more interestingly, inspired folks to share examples of these exact situations.
From 60-year-old ladies hitting it off by talking about their mansions to a student complaining about having to attend her dad's hotel openings, here are some of the most outrageous ones.
U.S. corporate after-tax profits hit a record high of $2.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2021, further enriching wealthy executives and shareholders. One factor behind the profits spike, according to writers Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo, is the fact that giant corporations have used the excuse of pandemic-related supply chain bottlenecks to jack up prices for gasoline, food, and other essentials.
Workers, particularly those at the bottom end of the wage scale, have gotten some long-overdue pay increases, but these were not the result of any employer largesse. Instead, many have gone on strike and taken other actions to leverage their power at a time of pandemic staffing challenges. Unfortunately, rising consumer prices are taking a bite out of those wage gains.
There are several prominent case studies and analysis reports that provide insight into income inequality, income disparity, and income distributions in the U.S. and across the world.
The Urban Institute, for example, is one of them. In an analysis of 50 years of economic data, the institution showed that the poorest got poorer while the richest got much richer.
Between 1963 and 2016:
- The poorest 10% of Americans went from having zero assets to being $1,000 in debt.
- Families in the middle-income segment more than doubled their prior average wealth.
- Families in the top 10% had more than five times their prior wealth.
- Families in the top 1% had more than seven times their prior wealth.
In 2018, the Economic Policy Institute released a report showing a general trend toward increasing incomes of the top earners following the 2008 recession. Between 2009 and 2015, the incomes of those in the top 1% grew faster than the incomes of the other 99% in 43 states and Washington D.C.
Many factors can be associated with this trend, including salary stagnation for wage-earning Americans, tax cuts for the richest Americans, a loss of manufacturing jobs, and a soaring stock market that inflated the worth of corporate executives and hedge fund managers.
Post-recession, companies are also investing heavily to hire and keep workers with specialized skills in fields such as engineering and healthcare. This has caused reductions or new automation takeovers in other functions, pushing down wages for workers in less competitive positions.
According to a 2022 report by World Inequality Lab, the global bottom 50% captures only a very small share of global income, just 8.5%. This means that, on average, the bottom 50% earns slightly less than one-fifth of the global average, i.e. just $2,915 per year.
The global middle 40% earns 39.5% of the total: its income is very close to the global average, at $17,178 per year.
But the global top 10% earns 52% of the total, which is slightly over five times the global average. Its average income per adult amounts to $90,782 per year.
Global wealth, however, appears to be even more unequally distributed than global income. The poorest half of the world's population owns just 2% of total net wealth, whereas the richest half owns 98% of all the wealth on earth.
The bottom 50% owns, on average, $3,019 of assets (typically in the form of land, housing, deposits, or cash).
Among the richest half of the global population, the middle 40% owns just 22% of total wealth (on average $42,570 per adult), and the top 10% owns 76% (i.e. $573,350 per adult, on average, including a large share of financial wealth such as stocks and bonds).
"We should note that when we measure global wealth inequality using market exchange rates, rather than purchasing power parities, then there is even more inequality," the report noted.
"The global bottom 50% owns less than 1% of total wealth and the global top 10% nearly 82% of it. To summarize ... the world is marked by a very high level of income inequality and an extreme level of wealth inequality."
The World Bank noted that although global poverty has more recently resumed its pre-pandemic downward trajectory, between 75 million and 95 million additional people could be living in extreme poverty in 2022 compared to pre-COVID-19 projections, due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, and rising inflation.
Research suggests that the effects of the current crises will almost certainly be felt in most countries through 2030. Under these conditions, the goal of bringing the global absolute poverty rate to less than 3 percent by 2030, which was already at risk before the pandemic, is now beyond reach, unless countries take swift, significant, and substantial policy action, The World Bank believes.