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Double the wealth gap? Double the pleasure (for heirs): The Excess Files

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Daily Ticker

If it feels like the rich are getting richer and the majority of Americans are falling behind, well...that's because it's true! A new study published by the Russell Sage foundation found that wealth inequality in America roughly doubled between 2003 and 2013.
In 2003, the top 20% Americans had 13 times more wealth than the median household. By 2013, this gap nearly doubled to 24 times.

Yes, that's right, the inequality gap doubled in 10 years!  Double the pleasure! Double the fun...especially for the wealthy!

The upside of an expanding wealth gap is that means there's more money for the 'haves' to leave to their kids when they go to that great country club in the sky.

And inherited wealth is a GOOD thing, according to Gregory Mankiw an economics professor at Harvard, who used a lot of of econo-speak to make the case: let's hear it for Intergenerational altruism! Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Consumption smoothing! Makniw also notes it's natural for wealthy parents to want to share the booty with their children (Sting, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates among the notable exceptions.)

And the rest of us benefit too, he writes, arguing "their accumulation of capital raises our productivity, wages and living standards."

In related news, the Commerce Department announced that Tuesday is national "Thank a Rich Person Day" where Americans in the bottom 20% are encouraged to find someone in the top 20% and let them know just how much they appreciate everything that's trickling down...

Speaking of the rich and poor getting together, Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao treated 250 homeless people to lunch at the Boathouse restaurant in New York's Central Park on Wednesday.

In a full-page ad in The York Times -- the favorite newspaper of the city's homeless --  Guangbiao said the event was aimed at “harmonizing relations between China and the United States” and “restoring the image of China’s wealthy.”

As if the three-course meal -- featuring seared tuna and filet mignon -- wasn't enough, the recycling magnate also serenaded the homeless with a personal rendition of “We Are the World”.

But the man whose business card describes him as “The Most Influential Person of China” (among other things) courted controversy by failing to also give $300 to each of the homeless in attendance.

If the goal was to show that China's billionaires are crazy eccentrics, mission accomplished. If the goal was to show China's wealthy are savvy spenders, not so much: The Times ad alone cost an estimated $175,000, which by the way, would pay for more than 110,000 meals at NYC's Bowery Mission.

Previously on The Excess Files:

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker and Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com.