In spite of the complexity of the subject, however, I argue that it is worth it to explore the class issue if for no reason other than to better understand what we can do as citizens to address the problem of income inequality. Since these inequalities are driven by government tax and other policies, exploring class issues might inspire voters to think “trickle up” instead of trickle down.
We are a class society. At the very, very top, there are roughly 400 families whose combined income is well over two trillion dollars. That’s more than Russia’s entire economy. The few in this group are on a different planet. Their children might pay Justin Bieber a million bucks to appear at a birthday party and, after he performs, he must leave. The Beebs is not one of them.
Just underneath this wealthy group are the super-rich. To understand both groups, here is what comedian Chris Rock had to say: “If Bill Gates (worth $72 billion, I think) woke up with Oprah’s money, he would jump out of a (high-rise) window.” Billion-dollar O is merely super rich. Gulp. Got it?
Then you have the class of garden variety millionaires. These poor rich folk have to work. If they are not careful with their bucks, they can go broke in a heartbeat. I’m sure many of you have heard stories about multi-million dollar lottery winners — millionaires — who went from sugar to shaft a few years after winning big.
Underneath millionaires there are upperclass, upper middle class, middle class, and lower middle class citizens. People in this group are usually very well educated. They live well. They vote. They have to work. Unlike the myth that the wealthy are the job creators, the upperclass and the middle class in general are more key to job creation and economic growth than any other class.