Income Inequality Is Worse in the U.S. Than Egypt
While income inequality in Egypt is more dangerous for its government, as the last two weeks of protests amply demonstrates, the fact is, it's worse in the United States, as ThinkProgress's Pat Garofalo writes.
As Yasser El-Shimy, former diplomatic attaché at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in Foreign Policy, “income inequality has reached levels not before seen in Egypt’s modern history.” But Egypt still bests quite a few countries when it comes to income inequality, including the United States:
According to the CIA World Fact Book, the U.S. is ranked as the 42nd most unequal country in the world, with a Gini Coefficient of 45.
– Tunisia is ranked the 62nd most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of 40.
– Yemen is ranked 76th most unequal, with a Gini Coefficient of 37.7.
– And Egypt is ranked as the 90th most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of around 34.4.
The Gini coefficient is used to measure inequality: the lower a country’s score, the more equal it is. Obviously, there are many things about the U.S. economy that make it far preferable to that in Egypt, including lower poverty rates, higher incomes, significantly better infrastructure, and a much higher standard of living overall. But income inequality in the U.S. is the worst it has been since the 1920′s, which is a real problem.
Currently, the top one percent of households make nearly 25 percent of the total income in the country, after they made less than 10 percent in the 1970′s. Between 1980 and 2005, “more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent.”
Poverty in the U.S. doesn't look like poverty in Egypt. But at the same time, our significantly better infrastructure is crumbling and is likely to get worse as austerity seems to be winning out over investment in our government. As prices rise and incomes stay stagnant, more people are becoming poorer. With the burst housing bubble and disappearing equity, many who at one point were solidly middle class are slipping toward poverty. The millions of unemployed would be absolutely destitute without food stamps.
But Goldman Sach's Leo Blankfein is doing just fine, and that seems to be enough to keep America's rabble rousers--the Koch brothers' joint venture with Fox News, the Tea Party--quiet.