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The 13 scariest charts about our country and our world

A scary photo to go with scary charts. (AFP/Ronaldo Schemidt)

This Halloween season, Wonkblog won't be scared by ghosts and monsters. What does make us shudder, though, is scary data about our country and world. From global warming and Ebola to inequality, racism and ageism, these 13 charts should frighten you. 

1) The rich aren't just grabbing a bigger slice of the income pie -- they're taking all of it

The wealthy have been capturing more and more of the overall income growth during each period of economic expansion in recent American history. Notice the sharp drop in the bottom 90 percent's share of growth starting with the 1982-1990 period. And then between 2009 and 2012, the bottom 90 percent actually saw their real income drop even further.

2) There's more carbon dioxide in the air than anytime in human history

For the first time in human history, the average amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million for all of April. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported the average CO2 value was 401.33 parts per million at an observatory in Hawaii. It's been at least three million years since the Earth's atmosphere held this much carbon dioxide.

3) There could soon be 1.4 million people with Ebola in West Africa.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned in September that the Ebola outbreak could kill hundreds of thousands of people and remain a threat for years if proper action is not taken to address the virus's outbreak.

4) Poor kids who do everything right don't do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

According to a new study, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

5) The opinions of most Americans don't matter for policy

"The most terrifying graph on democracy is a flat line," Ezra Klein has written. It comes from a political science paper showing that "the probability of policy change is nearly the same ... whether a tiny minority or a large majority of average citizens favor a proposed policy change." To the contrary, the paper shows, economic elites and trade groups have an enormous impact on government policy.

6) The middle class is poorer today than it was in 1987

Everybody but the richest 10 percent of Americans are worse off today than they were almost 30 years ago. That includes the poor, the entire middle class, and even what we would consider much of the upper class. The reason: The middle class missed out on the big bull market in stocks, but not on the even bigger bear one in housing.

7) If only white men could vote, almost every state would've voted for Mitt Romney

Buzzfeed created this map based on vote totals, demographic data and exit polls, showing the enormous political differences between white men -- the only group who could vote until 1870 -- and the rest of the country. According to Buzzfeed, under a scenario where only white men could vote, Mitt Romney would have won 501 electoral votes while President Obama would have received just 37. (Of course there would be no president Obama in such a world.) The actual electoral result was 332 to 206, in Obama's favor.

8) Europe's recession is worse than the Great Depression

The euro zone's economy still hasn't returned to its 2007 level and doesn't look like it will anytime soon. Indeed, it already wasn't clear if its last recession was even over before we found out the eurozone had stopped growing again in the second quarter. And not even Germany has been immune.

9) Women like older men as they age. Men always like women in their early 20s.

As reported by FiveThirty Eight, this chart by Christian Rudder, co-founder of the online dating site OKCupid, shows that as a woman ages, she finds attractive the photos of men in her age range, or perhaps a few years younger. But it's much different for men, who prefer women in their early 20's even if the man is 30, 40 or 50. 

10) White people think bias against them is worse than bias against blacks

Just 16 percent of whites believe that there is “a lot” of discrimination in America today, a view held by 56 percent of blacks. Polls found that white perceptions of anti-black bias have diminished to the point where they are now more likely to think anti-white discrimination is a bigger problem than bias against blacks.

11) 10 percent of Americans drink 74 servings of alcohol a week -- or 10 drinks per day

The top 10 percent of American drinkers -- 24 million adults over 18 -- consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week. Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.

12) Textbooks are bankrupting college kids

While inflation has been relatively subdued in recent decades, the cost of textbooks has increased by an astonishing amount, adding to the higher cost of education facing students. As The Economist has observed, "The nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteenfold since 1970...Professors...have little incentive to pick cheap ones. Some assign books they have written themselves.

13) The mayonnaise market is the biggest condiment market in the U.S.

According to Quartz, Americans now consume a frighteningly large amount of mayonnaise -- $2 billion a year -- outpacing every other type of sauce or condiment. This may be less profound than anything else on this list, but it's still a little bit scary.  You can thank low-fat mayo for the craze.