September 22, 2021

‘It’s very sad’: A viral video uses slices of pie to show how $98 trillion of American wealth is actually distributed

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From Business Insider

  • Inequality in the US is as bad as it’s ever been, but people were mostly unaware of the situation, according to a recent segment of “CBS This Morning” that aired Friday.
  • CBS News took a creative approach in a segment that quickly went viral, illustrating how $98 trillion of household wealth is distributed through slices of pie.
  • Watch it here.

Inequality in the US is the widest it’s ever been and it continues to worsen, but people are still surprised at how bad it is.

“CBS This Morning” aired a segment Friday morning that illustrated American inequality by using actual slices of pie, and it went viral.

The creative approach allowed people to grasp the depth of the problem in a new and tasty way with the show’s cohost Tony Dokoupil.

The US held about $98 trillion of wealth in the United States in 2018,according to the Brookings Institution. A 2016 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that nine of 10 pieces of the economic pie now belong to the wealthiest 20% of US citizens. Four of those nine would go to the top 1%.

The upper and middle class would own one slice, or 10% of national wealth. The lower and middle class get 0.3% of the pie, and the poorest 20% of Americans don’t get any — and they’re actually thousands of dollars in debt, on average, CBS reported.

People were stunned to see how bad inequality has gotten after visualizing it by carving up the pie, and seeing how the wealthiest 1% had the overwhelming majority of slices.

“It’s very sad — it’s very depressing,” Jessica Ortiz told Dokoupil, adding that she grew up in a very low-income family. Many of the people interviewed endorsed the idea of taxing the rich.

Calls to tax wealth has proved popular in the 2020 presidential election, and wide swaths of the American public back the idea, Democrats and Republicans alike. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have put forward wealth-tax plans near the center of their progressive platforms.

But not everyone supports a wealth tax. Dokoupil interviewed hedge-fund investor John Sheffield, who staunchly opposed it.

“That’s against sorta the American way,” Sheffield said. “It would be a total disaster … And I’d actually like for them to continue to promote it because they won’t get elected in that way.”

Watch the CBS News report here.

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