In my constant search for good, graphic representations of the state of the world, I stumbled across a couple of economics blogs which go into amazing detail.

Modeled Behavior, an economics blog, has a beautiful set of graphs which detail the rise in incomes of the top 1% over the last 40 years, compared with the stagnation of the bottom 80%. There are a lot of different ways to look at this data, and it’s important to see it in many forms. However you look at it, the data is clear: a virtually flat set of lines for most of us and a wildly climbing curve for the top 1%, rising and falling with the “economy”.

Since 1970 we’ve had computers become commonplace in homes, governments and businesses. We’ve had a second gender enter the workforce en masse. We’ve had “Globalization” connect markets all over the world to allow us westerners access to dirt-cheap foreign labour and resources. And yet none of this seems to have had any real positive effect on four fifths of the population. In fact, since 1976, 58% of income growth went to the top one percent of income earners, and almost all of the rest went to others in the top 20% (mostly those near the top of it).

This isn’t about the guy on your block with a nice car, or even those dudes uptown with the mansion. This is about the very small number of people, a few percent at most – who own things like CFL teams for fun. The super-small number of people at the top who own more than everyone else put together.

A rising tide is not lifting any other boats. And trashing the planet isn’t making most of us any richer.