This post first appeared at Mother Jones.
We’ll be posting a new chart on the current state of income inequality every day for the next couple of weeks. Yesterday’s chart looked at how the richest of the rich have enjoyed massive income gains for decades.
But wait, you say, isn’t that the way it’s always been? Yes and no. It’s never been a bad time to be rich in America. But some times have been a lot better. In fact, the best time may be now, especially when you consider the amount of total income controlled by the top 1 percent since colonial times (with ancient Rome thrown in for comparison):
Sources: Rome: Walter Scheidel and Steven J. Friesen; US in 1774 and 1860: Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson; US in 1929-2012, Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty (Excel)