The $50,000,000,000,000 Upward Transfer of Wealth

According to the Rand Corporation, since 1975, a staggering $50 trillion has gone from the bottom 90% straight to the top

Mitchell Peterson
5 min readSep 16, 2021

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Everyone knows inequality has been steadily growing worldwide. Economist Thomas Piketty’s surprise best-seller Capital in the 21st Century laid out the state of global inequality back in 2013. More recently, the Rand Corporation took a stab at putting a price on how much money has been redistributed from the bottom to the top in the US of A.

The number is stupid large: $47,000,000,000,000 to be exact.

How on earth did forty-seven trillion — trillion with a t — get vacuumed from hard-working Americans to corporate CEOs and shareholders? What would the country look like if the distribution of the economic gains would have stayed even, like the post-war period?

It’s a cliche to say America is a bonafide dumpster fire at the moment, but it rings true for a reason. My super-politically involved Italian friend visited me recently and commented, “America is like a third-world country with money.” While that is a bit of an oxymoron, is he wrong?

The poverty stats are insane: almost half the country without $400, 13 million children in food insecurity, the worst COVID response in the world, a minimal social safety net, exploding homelessness, tent cities popping up all over, life expectancy falling, and at least 27.5 million Americans living without health insurance.

And those are just the problems off the top of my head.

And all of that is right next to the government-connected richest people in the world, traveling in their bubbles of unimaginable luxury and wealth: from a gated mega-mansion to a chauffeured town car, to a private airstrip, onto a private luxury jet, to a private airstrip, to a chauffeur-driven SUV, to another gated mega-mansion, all while being trailed by assistants, nannies, chefs, and social media managers.

Sounds a lot like a third-world country with money to me.

Where did America’s middle class go?

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Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.