[FoRK] the real power law

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Mar 23 05:40:46 PST 2005


specifically, http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/images/USIncome.gif

much-cited Power Law for Blogs is the latest incarnation of the age-old
'80-20' rule (the top 20% have 80% and the remaining 80% have 20% -- of hits,
links, popularity, 'wealth of audience' etc. Recently, Alternet has cited
some US income statistics from 2000 (latest available year), statistics that
put the blogosphere's inverse curves to shame. I've plotted this data in red
on the chart above. Read it and weep.

Here's the data that is plotted: The top 400 households in the US had a
median income of $175 million per year. They're the ones that will primarily
benefit from the Bush tax cuts. The top million households had a median
income $1.1 million and all earned over $314 thousand. The top five million
households had income in excess of $150 thousand. The median income for all
households was $43 thousand, a little over twice the poverty level that about
one fourth of households fell below. Put another way, the richest 2% of
American households have over 50% of the country's disposable income.

It looks like two straight lines, but it's actually an astronomically steep
curve that shows just how inequitably income, and power, are distributed in
the US. And Alternet reports that the curve for wealth (accumulated income)
is much steeper even than the income curve shown above. Five million US
households possess over 60% of the nation's total wealth.

Power in our society is shifting quickly and inexorably from the
one-man-one-vote ballot booth (where we all have, at least in theory, equal
influence and power) to the one-share-one-vote boardroom (where the
distribution of power is roughly as diagrammed above).

Kinda sobering, isn't it?

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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