Story by Morgan Gstalter
There’s a new viral video circulating on the web and creating much debate.
Through sharing it on Facebook or embedding it in a tweet, the video, entitled “Wealth Inequality in America,” is gaining popularity.
The video was posted on YouTube by user “Politizane” on November 20, 2012, but has recently been gaining more media attention and over 11 million views.
A chart created by an unnamed Harvard University business professor and economist drew viewers.
According to the video, he asked Americans how they thought the wealth was distributed. He also asked them what they thought was the ideal distribution of wealth.
Nintey-two percent of them said it needed to be shifted toward equality.
Using colorful bar graphs, viewers can easily see the seperation and inequality of wealth distributed across America. The top 20 percent of the population dominated the chart.
The narrator of the video said he found that graph was hard to wrap his head around so he took the estimated 311 million Americans and brought it down to a representative sample of 100/
He mixed in various occupations and incomes lined up according to their wealth.
With the estimated $54 trillion worth of the United States in 2009, the video demonstrates visually the various distribution methods of this lump of cash.
There was “The ‘Dreaded’ Socialism,” in which the money was divided evenly between the Americans.
But the narrator corrects himself saying, “We all know that won’t work. We need to encourage people to work and work hard, to achieve that good ol’ American dream and keep our country moving forward.”
Then, with startling infographics, the actual distribution of wealth was shown.
Lindsay Carlson, first-year psychology major, didn’t know what to say when shown the video.
“This video went viral because it puts everything into perspective in easily understood graphics,” Carlson said. “People have a wrong perception about America because, compared to other countries, we couldn’t possibly have poverty that was that bad. But when you see it visually, you can tell that there is a severe gap in equal opportunity. The CEOs aren’t watching these kinds of videos.”
CEOs, as Carlson brings up, play an interesting role in this video.
Apparently, the CEO, in the top 1 percent of the population takes home 24 percent of the national wealth.
In 1974, they only took in 9 percent of the wealth, meaning their income tripled within the last 30 years.
The CEO used as demonstration would need to work 380 times harder than the average worker of his company to justify the severe imbalance of wealth.
The video says, “Not the lowest paid employee, not the janitor, but the average earner in his company.
The average worker needs to work more than a month to make what the CEO makes in an hour.”
Some people have found some issues with this video, however.
Mark Perry, a professor of economics for the University of Michigan said he sees problems with this video.
He said on the American Enterprise Institute’s website, “It’s not clear who produced it, and it’s not clear what solution is being proposed to the ‘problem’ of wealth inequality identified in the video,” Perry said. “What is clear is that it’s another fallacious, static analysis of wealth distribution that focuses only on abstract, statistical brackets at a given point in time, while completely disregarding the most important point: what is happening to actual flesh-and-blood human beings whose income and wealth change all the time and who are moving among the various abstract statistical brackets from year to year.”
Marcell Locust, a first-year business major, said he thought America was doing better.
“People are beginning to realize what’s happening, and a YouTube video is a great way to demonstrate that,” Locust said. “Lots of people don’t have time to watch the news, especially younger people, like college kids. It’s easier to watch informative videos like this when they’re not on CNN.”