How rich is rich?

Only months ago, there was a lot of angst over tax cuts for the rich, with the Republicans saying the Bush era tax cuts had to be extended for people making more than $250,000 a year, giving the general population the impression that if the rich didn’t get their fair share, everything would collapse, economically.

That argument, of course, was farcical. But people fell for it, Obama caved and the tax cuts were extended. A graphical representation of income distribution in the U.S. would have been a big help then.

Anyway, the issue isn’t dead. The GOP is still fighting to make the tax cuts permanent. But Mother Jones magazine has put together a couple of graphs that you should keep handy, just to remind yourself that when the issue comes around again, the rich won’t be hurting if their Bush tax cuts are eliminated.

Take a look at this:

It says the top one-hundreth of one percent of Americans have an average family income of more than $27 million, while the bottom 90% have an average income of a little more than $31,000. Breaking it down by each figure, that means that for every 10,000 families, 9,000 are on the low end in the $31,000 range. Of the remaining 1,000 families, 900 are in the $165,000 range¬† — not bad, and not affected by the tax on the rich.¬† Of the remaining 100 families, 90 are in the $1.1 million range. Then you get to the final 10 families. Of that group, 9 are pulling down $3.2 million with the last family raking in $27.3 million. There are the super rich and the super poor. Which group do you fall in?

This chart, though, doesn’t give a complete idea of what income distribution is. But the next one says what it really is, what Americans think it is, and what Americans think it should be:

So if you took all the wealth in America, the top 20% control more than 80% of it. Pretty big chunk. But we as a nation think the top 20% control less than 60% of the wealth. Still a huge number, but nowhere close to reality. And what we as a nation think is fair? Well, we say the top 20% should control about 30% of the wealth. That is fantasy.

We really need to pay more attention to what is real, and ignore the fantasy projected to us by on-air TV people and bloated radio pundits, many of whom are in those top brackets. They tell us that rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the rich will hurt the economy. What they fail to tell you is that if the rich lose those tax cuts, it affects their economy.