Jonathan Weiler: America's Staggering Inequality and Our Strong Preference for a Swedish Alternative Of course, many think inequality is irrelevant, as long as a rising tide lifts all boats. But while the wealthiest Americans live ever more opulent lifestyles, ordinary Americans, especially at the sixtieth percentile and below are running in place, if not falling further behind. For one thing, the typical household puts in longer work hours now than was true in 1979, placing added strains on many American families. Furthermore, in the past three years the general picture of distribution has likely worsened, with record levels of long-term unemployment as well as draconian cuts to basic services like health care and education at the state and local level, which have disproportionately affected people lower down the income ladder. So, the relatively weak gains for the majority of Americans in the past thirty years have been precarious, subject to a swift and un-nerving reversal of fortune, while those at the top continue to enjoy record incomes and wealth. Marked for emphasis on the truth!