In response to all the varied discussions regarding income inequality:

This is the actual U.S. pre-tax income distribution for individuals (not families or households – there’s a huge difference) taken from the U.S. Census Bureau. I plotted the chart on a logarithmic scale to better show the attenuated distribution characteristics (typically descreasing number of individual earners as income increases). The dashed line represents a best fit curve for the data, which would reflect a smooth logarithmic distribution of income per population in a perfect world (you wouldn’t want 1 CEO for every receptionist – we wouldn’t be able to afford anything – and why be a CEO if you only earn as much as a receptionist).

Strictly mathematically speaking, if your income is below the yellow dashed line, then you should be earning more to maintain a smooth distribution. Above the yellow dashed line, and you should be earning less to make the distribution curve smooth. The data show some skew at and over the $100k range. The high percentage of no income earners is misleading, since it includes anyone over age 15. I couldn’t find the raw data from the Census Bureau for those age 18 and over.

Again, this is pre-tax income. A progressive tax policy could consider targeting tax rates to provide a smoother distribution curve. This is only one slice of data. Take it for what it’s worth. In my opinion, it shows a fairly good distribution, with only slight skew at the upper range. It’s also unfortunate that the Census didn’t provide a better breakdown above $250k. I’d like to see that data to incorporate into my Excel tables.

The lower chart is normalized to better compare the highest incomes with the lowest.  This better shows where the income skew is.  Really not so bad, in my opinion.  Now, what we actually value as a society (translated as what we award the greatest income) is certainly skewed.  This is the major issue, not the actual income distribution.