Over the last decade or so, wealth inequality in the United States has been a hot social issue of debate. Numerous politicians on both sides (though more often Democrat) have made it a bulletin point on their campaign platforms and there have been countless think-pieces on the topic. It seems like The Atlantic alone has written no less than a million articles on the issue.
Forget about every political speech, study, or op-ed you’ve ever heard regarding wealth inequality. Perhaps the best, most poignant, striking and mind-boggling example that really puts into context the wealth gap in the United States are the two videos by TikTok user Tom Cruz.
Tom Cruz (guessing that’s not his real name) says he’s a real estate investor and shows a spreadsheet of his friend’s incomes and their travel budgets. Keep in mind, these aren’t your typical take the family to Disneyland budgets (which even that is a bit pricey at over $6,000).
Tom’s video has been viewed over 3.9 million times, with likely 3.9 of those reviews resulting in “Holy sh** even Broke Bobby is rich AF!”
Aside from the fact that it’s pretty weird for a person to have a spreadsheet of all their friend’s incomes, it’s astounding how just what sort of wealthy lifestyle Tom’s friends are enjoying. They might not be billionaires yet, but they’re living larger than few people can even imagine. Never mind that six of Tom’s friends are pulling in over a million a year, where things really get interesting are regarding how much they’re willing to spend for just three days of vacation.
Broke Bobby is only willing to spend $10,000 on a 3-day trip (not too shabby in the least), meanwhile, Tom’s top four earning friends have no qualms about dropping $60,000 to $80,000 on a 3-DAY VACATION!
Oh and the friends are willing to split the cost of a private flight. Huh? Wha? As Bored Panda queried: “Are they flying in private jets that burn dollar bills as fuel?”
It’s the sort of budget that most people would probably struggle to burn through in just three days of vacation (assuming you didn’t go shopping at a Tesla dealership while on vacay).
As Bored Panda mentions, having a social circle where your friends could literally swim in money Scrooge McDuck style wouldn’t seem far-fetched had you been born the offspring of an oil baron or something. While Tom doesn’t go into his family background, his follow-up video leads one to believe this isn’t the case.
Tom posted a second video showing another spreadsheet of his bottom 10 income earning friends, aka “the welfare 10.”
Alright, let’s break this one down…
First off, it’s now a given that if you’re going to be friends with Tom, you’ll need to provide him with your annual income, vacation budget, and comfortability with eating at chain restaurants. The dude needs to know if you’re down with California Pizza Kitchen.
Tom makes mention early in the video that he’s known most of these friends “since college.” The richest of the welfare 10, Jake, has a projected income of $92,000 in 2021. That’s still almost $60,000 above the median individual income in the United States. It also looks like Jake is also limited to a measly $5,000 for a 3-day vacation. Boo. Hoo.
Now hating on someone’s success is never admirable, and only makes a person look jealous. If somebody builds a career on hard work that earns them $5 million a year — more power to them! Having the opportunity to do so is what’s been drawing people to the United States for generations. However, it’s also fair to ask if Tom’s top-earning friend who makes 100 times more than his $50,000 friends is working 100 times harder? Probably not.
Maybe Tom and some of his Forbes list friends were born into the 1%, but maybe they weren’t either. Regardless, it’s just a striking comparison that many in his “Forbes” friends list are willing to spend more on three days of vacation than the annual incomes of the Welfare 10.
It’s the sort of wealth gap that most in the median household income of $74,600 arguably can’t even wrap their heads around.