Just when you thought you could bask in the democratic glow of the Arab spring and popular uprisings against entrenched, corrupt oligarchic regimes, Joseph E. Stiglitz throws a bracing splash of cold water in your face. In this month’s Vanity Fair, Stiglitz writes with precision about some prescience on the growing income inequality in America.

“Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”

The top one percent of Americans take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year and control 40 percent of its wealth. “In terms of income inequality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride,” Stiglitz writes. ”Among our closest counterparts are Russia and its oligarchs, and Iran.”

Read it, watch the protests unfold in the Middle East, and try not to weep.