There's probably no huge surprise here. But if you're looking for a good example of America's banana republic-like evolution toward a nation of rich douches and poor suckers, you don't have to search too hard.
Los Angeles could serve as a living laboratory on the topic. Go to Malibu, land of eight-figure real estate. Then go to Skid Row, the largest open-air homeless community in the United States. The physical distance is less than 30 miles, but the metaphorical distance could be measured in light years.
The Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution figured this out recently:
The think tank this week published a top-10 list that looks at "inequality in big cities." Los Angeles ranked ninth.
Brookings says it based its ranking on Census data that showed "the distance between a household that just cracks the top 5 percent by income, and one that just falls into the bottom 20 percent."
Frankly, coming in ninth isn't bad, given that L.A. is the second-largest city in the nation, and seeing that our signature industry, Hollywood, is a distant planet of millionaires who don't begin to represent the demographics of the rest of town.
According to Brookings, the demarcation line at which you've joined the poorest one-fifth of the L.A. population is represented by $17,657 in annual household income.
But if you made $217,770 last year, congratulations, you're in the top five percent in L.A. The city was beat by Atlanta (number one), San Francisco (number two), Miami (three), and more. Here's the list:
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Why is this important? The left-leaning think tank says this:
A city where the rich are very rich, and the poor very poor, is likely to face many difficulties. It may struggle to maintain mixed-income school environments that produce better outcomes for low-income kids. It may have too narrow a tax base from which to sustainably raise the revenues necessary for essential city services. And it may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families, so that those who move up or down the income ladder ultimately have no choice but to move out.
Sounds like our town.