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July 27, 2010

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Works for me (Chrome, OS X). Can I ask what you used to make this?

Are you sure this isn't a profile view of Ayn Rand's dental x-rays through time, with the exaggerated, fanged overbite of an individual who managed to redden tooth and claw to the disadvantage of all else.

Ah, thanks for the feedback but let's not make this a QA session. Email to [email protected] if you have problems, otherwise let's discuss the topic not the tech.

(Made with GWT, btw.)

Data from the good old days (the "Leave It To Beaver" and "My Three Sons" pre- dirty hippy days) would show a much more equal distribution than the 1979 graph, and data from the Robber Baron era would look much like the 2006 graph. But we can't talk about taxing the rich without "Commie Socialist redistribution of wealth!" being yelled in our ears. It's discouraging that people who grew up in "The Good Old Days" get suckered into believing that it's The Liberals that fucked everything up and the solution is to give even more money to the rich.

This kind of graphic can get the point across to almost anyone. Nice visual, Jacob!

This graph probably needs a bit more explanation: it took me a few minutes to figure out how to make sense out of it.

1) The vertical axis is households ranked by income, wealthiest at the top, poorest at the bottom. The bottom 4/5 is grouped into quintiles, while the top is divided more finely.

2) The horizontal axis is wealth. Note how the top line varies the most, and the changes in the bottom four quintiles are subtle, but for the bottom quintile, going from a box to a box and a quarter is a notable increase in standard of living. That quintile is doing worse these days.

I hope this helps.

Scamp Dog: I believe that the horizontal axis is actually income (vs. wealth). If I understand correctly, distribution of wealth is even more skewed than distribution of income.

From looking at the source data and squinting at the graph, it looks like each green box represents about 0.2% of total pre-tax income.

Thanks, pretty cool.

Thanks for the feedback, I'll see if I can improve the next version.

I love infographics, especially animated ones, but it's hard to make them comprehensible. (Tufte makes it look so easy. Wait, no he doesn't.)

What I'd like to see is some numbers on the axes (even a normalized scale would help.)

Below is the comment I almost posted before I remembered that Jacob already made this very point. I got all caught up in the graphic, which my browser at work wouldn't display. I forgot the text, which I had read hours ago, until I suddenly noticed that what I was writing sounded familiar somehow. I thought I'd leave it for a laugh instead of not posting it at all.

"This doesn't exactly show that trickle down didn't work, only because it's shows proportions of total pre-tax income. It certainly shows concentrations of income toward the top, but I don't know if trickle down necessarily requires that the middle and bottom have to get bigger shares of the total. I think, though I'm not sure, that they just have to end up better off, which would be possible if the whole pie grew enough to overcome their shrinking shares of it."

" I think, though I'm not sure, that they just have to end up better off, which would be possible if the whole pie grew enough to overcome their shrinking shares of it"

Which, of course, it did for almost 30 years, just slowly. I go back to the discussion by TP that they represent very little "real" value, the top end got most of those gains by the explosion of hedge funds, that only they could pqrticipate in.

If I understand correctly, distribution of wealth is even more skewed than distribution of income.

I believe you understand correctly.

Crooked Timber has covered this subject quite a lot recently.

John Quiggin (of CT) has a wiki with draft text for his book Zombie Economics. Here is his chapter on trickle-down (and its failure).

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