You’re “Landed Aristocracy”. Honest!

Juan Ricardo Cole, whose impressive biography describes him as a “…public intellectual, prominent blogger and essayist”, posted a map of the United States portioned off according to wealth. Not surprisingly, under this criteria America’s wealthiest 10% would hold the vast majority of our nation’s land.

An impressive chart, to be sure… and, bound to engender some anger among the 90% of the US population suddenly relegated to the Deep South (hey, at least many of them would now have an ocean view).

As long as we’re using land to represent wealth, let’s look at this actual map of Alaska, courtesy of nationalatlas.gov

Federal Lands - Alaska

Caption: If it's in color, it's Federal Land!

It’s much more impressive – it’s in color! Those pretty colors represent the land owned, managed, or controlled by one or more departments of the United States Government.

Confusing? You betcha! So, here’s a couple legends to help sort it all out:

Legend - Federal Lands Legend - Native Lands and Other

Yessiree, the very same Government representing us citizens – you and me, rich and poor, taxpayer and non-taxpayer alike -  the “1% and 99%”, if you will. Wealth the Federal Government controls, and can increase… “Nationalize” …in the interest of us all.

Man, imagine how upset those Alaskans must be knowing that roughly 70% of their land isn’t just theirs, but ours! And, Alaska’s only one of 50 states (or, possibly 57 states, depending on who’s speaking) – Check out the “Lower 48″:

Federal Lands - Contiguous United States

Caption: Uncle Sam, Land Baron?

If Alaskans are upset, residents of Nevada must be absolutely furious: Uncle Sam owns over 84% of Nevada! In fact, he owns land in a bunch of states (Forget for a moment that, thanks to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, Ginnie Mae, and the USDA, he also owns  almost all of the mortgaged homes sitting on this country’s soil… not to mention General Motors and Ally Bank. Or the Federal Buildings, National Highway System, military hardware, et cetera ad nauseam. And by “he” I mean “us”.)

Thankfully, Mr. Cole’s diametrically-opposed chart is merely artful rhetoric: The “90%” appear to be richer than the chart indicates. Including (unfortunately?) all of the land called “Washington, D.C.” (If by “richer”, I overlook Uncle Sam’s generous gift of massive, crushing debt)

BTW: Might also be nice to show a map of the USA demarcated by total tax burden instead of wealth. But I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Thanks for reading!

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