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When you're betting someone's salary, it's time to reassess

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$10,000 is a very popular amount right now. It's a nice round number: it can buy most people a more than decent vacation; it makes a nifty down payment on a house and hey, what else are you going to keep in your $5,000 purse?

$10,000, of course, was also the amount that Mitt Romney bet Rick Perry (even though it may have been illegal, oops) to prove that his Massachusetts health care plan did not mandate people to buy private medical insurance. Ironically, he would have lost.

Figure 1

 Credit: DailyCaller 

And who in the over-stimulated North America doesn't know about Lindsay Lohan who had her Chanel purse stolen a few days ago while vacationing in the beautiful state of Hawaii. She got her purse back alright, but her petty cash of $10,000 disappeared as quickly as her movie career. I'm assuming the money is currently being enjoyed by one of the 99%.

Figure 2

Credit: Wisdom Teeth Recovery

The obvious problem here is that for the fabled 1% (or even the 0.5%) income earners, 10K is easy money. They can afford to lose it if someone grabs their purse or if they think they have a better health care system than they actually do. But for a frightening number of Americans, this same amount of money is what they earn in an entire year, as seen in the figures below. And, in America, that means they live in conditions often as bad (or worse) than 3rd World Countries.

It's hard to see the beauty of our capitalistic system when it's not only caused these discrepancies in wealth but has produced people so inured to it that they don't even know the worth of the money they have. Mitt Romney's throwaway bet (or Lindsay's cash stashed in her purse) could probably buy all the tents for any given Occupy protest, which is one of the reasons the protests started in the first place.

Raw Income Distribution:

Figure 1   


Cumulative Curve:
Figure 4

Grouped Income Distribution:

Figure 5

Sources for the data:

U.S. Census Bureau (2009 data)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (2009 data)

This article was cross-posted at Open Salon.


Dominique is an Associate Professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. His research work aims at reducing the negative effects associated with motor vehicle crashes. When he's not developing mathematical and (more...)

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$10,000 is also an amount many people pay in&... by Dominique Lord on Thursday, Dec 15, 2011 at 10:02:13 AM
$10,000 is the amount that many Americans have gon... by Doc McCoy on Thursday, Dec 15, 2011 at 11:46:05 PM
...the real issue at hand. Obviously, some folks h... by Dominique Lord on Saturday, Dec 17, 2011 at 8:38:38 PM
and seemingly, they all seem to contradict one ano... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Dec 17, 2011 at 10:09:18 PM first need to understand them. If you would... by Dominique Lord on Sunday, Dec 18, 2011 at 8:52:06 AM