It’s tempting to say that the US now has a banana republic-level income inequality, but that’s not fair—to banana republics. “The truth is that Latin America has matured and become more equal,” writes Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, even as the US has gone the other way. In the 1940s, the top 1% of Argentines controlled roughly 20% of the country’s income, twice what America’s top 1% earned. Since then, we’ve switched places; America’s top 1% now enjoys 24% of its income.
Despite this rampaging inequality, Republicans want to extend tax cuts to the rich, while cutting unemployment. That makes no sense economically—rich people won’t spend the extra dough as quickly as the poor. “But there is also a larger question: What kind of country do we aspire to be? Would we really want to be the kind of plutocracy where the richest 1% possesses more net worth than the bottom 90%?” Kristof asks. “Oops! That’s already us.”