Richard Kind is a funny, talented actor. I had the pleasure of working with him when I did a cameo on the show “Spin City,” where Kind co-starred. He was thoughtful and helpful on set, even though I was a dreaded non-lefty.
Fast forward to this year’s White House Correspondents’ dinner. Pleased to be invited, Kind gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter. After praising President Barack Obama as “the smartest man in the room,” Kind offered his opinion on what issue he “cares most about”: “The disparity between the ultra-rich and the next level is as disgraceful as anything that has gone on in our history. Now maybe some of them can control my life, my career, my employment, but I have to tell you something is wrong. I don’t know how it got wrong, but something is wrong.”
“The next level”? What does that even mean? “As disgraceful as anything that has gone on in our history?” Right up there with slavery, the World War II relocation camps for Americans of Japanese descent and the fact that the race-hustling Rev. Al Sharpton has a television show on MSNB-Hee Haw?
First, despite the primacy of Kind’s concern, most Americans do not care about the “wealth gap.” Only 15 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup poll, consider this an important issue. Far more Americans worry about economic growth and unemployment — as opposed to worrying about whether someone has more stuff than they do.
Besides, what exactly is the gap? Is it getting bigger or smaller? What is the appropriate gap? How does the United States compare to other countries?
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (a consortium of 34 economically developed countries): “In OECD countries today, the average income of the richest 10 percent of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10 percent.” In the United States, the gap between the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent is 14 to one — about the same as the gap between the rich and the poor in Israel and Turkey. For countries like Mexico and Chile, the gap is 27 to one.
True, the wealth gap grew over the last 20 years, but the so-called “Great Recession” was less than kind to the rich. From 2007 to 2009, the top 1 percent’s share of the national income declined from 23.5 percent to 18.12 percent — a drop of 23 percent.
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