Inequality, the American dream, and the Whiskey Rebellion

Here’s a cool source about capitalism and inequality.

I was also surprised to find that inequality, the gap between the rich and the poor, is found in both capitalist countries as well as countries with government intervention.

This is the Gini Index. It measures the amount of income distribution among a country’s citizens.

gini-index-usa

Regardless of which party you’re a fan of, both of them have seen inequality go up or down, regardless of who is in power. 

A cool fact about America and Myanmar: Myanmar is the most charitable country in the world, followed by the U.S. and New Zealand. Also, poor countries tend to give more, and Iraq came out on top as the most likely population to help a stranger. Amazing. Lastly, older people give more money than younger people, but that gap is closing.

I think it’s because younger people make less than previous generations. Under 30s are now poorer than retired people. And I think THAT is because of inflation increasing so much since the 70’s.

InflationSince1900

So we’re not all greedy capitalists in America. I think altruism or giving charitably is an American cultural value, but strangely enough, with a mix of equality, which means that this is the country where you can “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.”

The American dream

Andrew Carnegie’s first job was as a bobbin boy at a cotton mill, and eventually made the equivalent of $372 billion in today’s dollars and became the 6th richest person in history, from selling his company U.S. Steel to J.P. Morgan. He started out borrowing small amounts of money, invested it in railroads and, with his returns, borrowed more money and made more investments and higher returns. And he gave up 90% of it when he died to charities, foundations and universities.

Rockefeller owned 90% of the American oil production and made the equivalent of 2% of the U.S. GDP in a year.

Bill Gates dropped out of fucking Harvard and became the richest living person alive today.

And everyone believes and dreams of becoming that. I think it’s why so many people play sports in school even though their chances of getting drafted to a team are around 3%.

So I think the American dream value is still alive and well, just in a different form than in the past.

Also, I find it interesting that a “hand out” isn’t given without a large, government bureaucracy, except when it comes to non-profit or private charities.

Americans seem OK with giving money voluntarily to the charity of their choice, but if the money is forced out of their hands through the threat of force (meaning you go to jail and a cop with a gun arrests you if you don’t pay taxes that go to social programs helping poor people), they’re not so OK with that.

Most charitable countries in the world.

Charity

And maybe because I’m American too, but I kind of see the reason in that belief. I think that value goes way back to the founders.

Or at least, the first European founders of the country.

The Whiskey Rebellion

When some of the first taxes put in place were implemented on whiskey in 1791, people fucking revolted and rioted and more than 500 armed men attacked the fortified home of tax inspector General John Neville, and that’s what they call the Whiskey Rebellion. You know what that money was supposed to be used for? The national debt!

People freaked out over 1 tax!

Now people are used to everything having a tax on it: Social Security, gifts, scholarships, unemployment, alimony, gambling, medical marijuana, crowdfunding, and Bitcoin. Some of these things we probably should be revolting over, like Social Security and unemployment.

It seems to me that the reason we don’t revolt in present day is because slowly, over time, Americans have become more and more comfortable being taxed.

 

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