How Rich is Too Rich?: Income and Wealth in America

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Praeger, Jan 1, 1992 - Business & Economics - 252 pages
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A physicist and an economist, writing for a broad audience and using real--not theoretical--data, answer the age-old question: How rich is too rich? In the process, they suggest some practical solutions to the problem of excessive wealth. They outline a way to deal with the "too" rich that will also create a healthier economy. Merging a hundred years of economic theory and research on wealth and income distributions with anecdotal evidence, Herbert Inhaber and Sidney Carroll create a framework with which to evaluate proposals to redistribute great wealth and income. The authors set forth an "Alternative Distribution System," based on the fact that much of the income of the well-off, that upper 3 percent of the United States population with incomes exceeding $110,000 per year, is due to wealth. The ADS, an inheritance plan, would bring the distribution of the lower 97 percent and the upper 3 percent closer together. It would allow a partial correction of the disparity while adding to the total fairness of our society. This very readable text is complemented by a dozen tables that illustrate "The Power of Compound Interest," "United States Income Distribution," "The Estimated Size of the Domestic Underground Economy," and more. Inhaber and Carroll first describe the existence of an extremely unequal distribution of income and wealth, with enormous resources held by a small percentage of Americans at the top. Other chapters detail the law of income distribution, explain the difference between wealth and income, and explain previous theories of income and wealth distributions. In addition to defining and describing the rich, the authors devote a chapter to how the rich avoid income tax. The volume concludes with an examination of the Alternative Distribution System and how income would be altered by it. How Rich Is Too Rich? will enable the informed general reader to assess policies on wealth and income distribution that have been the subject of Congressional budget debates and best-selling books.

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About the author (1992)

Herbert Inhaber is a principal scientist at Westinghouse Savannah River Co. and fellow of the American Nuclear Society. He has published numerous scientific articles in such journals as "Science, Nature, "and "Risk Analysis "and is the author of "Risk of Energy Production.

SIDNEY CARROLL is Professor of Economics at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

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