America

Income More Unequal In U.S. Than In Parts Of Latin America

There's a fascinating series being published over on Slate by Timothy Noah. It explores the growing income inequality in the United States. Really interesting stuff worth a read. One paragraph really popped out at me.

All my life I've heard Latin America described as a failed society (or collection of failed societies) because of its grotesque maldistribution of wealth. Peasants in rags beg for food outside the high walls of opulent villas, and so on. But according to the Central Intelligence Agency (whose patriotism I hesitate to question), income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic. The main difference is that the United States is big enough to maintain geographic distance between the villa-dweller and the beggar. As Ralston Thorpe tells his St. Paul's classmate, the investment banker Sherman McCoy, in Tom Wolfe's 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities: "You've got to insulate, insulate, insulate."

Slum in Caracas, Venezuela

hide captionCatia, one of the poorest slums in Caracas, Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press

I hate it when facts intrude into a long held belief. Admittedly, Slate is somewhat to the left, but their reporting, and Timothy Noah, are solid. Also in the piece, while American's believe that they have more social mobility than people in other countries, actually, we don't.

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