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Even if we accept that some important measures of inequality have increased in the United States (and ignoring the increases elsewhere), has anyone actually demonstrated that this is any kind of a problem? And when I say problem, I don’t mean that some people don’t like it, or that it’s because the authors of such arguments say such things. I am talking about real solid evidence that “the rich” take over the political process at higher frequencies and with more corruption than the rich of the past. I am talking about real, legitimate measures of exploitation being worse today than in the past. And this is wholly ignoring the very real evidence that the “problem” does not seem to be reflected in the data on economic mobility – the work of Raj Chetty being the most recent piece of evidence there.

So, without some flaming blog war or Facebook war or Twitter war of assertions, could be’s, ad hominems and such, is there ACTUAL evidence that increasing income inequality is causing evil? I would still remind you that seeing disparities in income actually does make me emote, and my impression of inequality is basically this: “lots of people have their fingers in the cookie jar and others don’t” and that’s the inequality that, to me, is dangerous. And the solution is not to give everyone some cookies.

6 Responses to “Has ANYone Actually Answered and Demonstrated This?”

  1. Harry says:

    Worrying about the plight of people who are poor does not imply imposing socialism, even though that is the relentless argument from godless people citing Christ to give away all and follow Him.

    People of good will wish each other good bye. That is axiomatic. We wish people good will, not that they will be equal. Not all people are of good will, of course, an empirical fact. Their axioms are different, and some philosophers say it is a flip of a coin to determine which axioms to choose, and it follows, assuming that premise, that good and evil is whatever one says it is, the root premise of progressivism, which loosely relies on science if it is convenient.
    Therefore, everybody should be given free cookies, Girl Scout Cookies made of a recipie to be determined by the Department of Health and Human Services . A soy cookie, made of the same stuff as Purina high protein cat food, but labeled differently. This measure would go a long way to remedy the inequality problem in the Ohio rust belt , or im Rochester .

  2. Speedmaster says:

    A few thoughts off the top of my head:
    – I’m not sure it’s a problem if someone has more of something than I do, provided they didn’t steal or cheat to get it.
    – In this country at least, I think absolute poverty is essentially gone. We’re talking about relative wealth.
    – Slightly off-topic, I hear every week that we fighting both a hunger problem, and an obesity problem. Which is it? They seem mutually exclusive. And I personally witness a great deal of the latter, probably none of the former.
    – Much of this inequality business strikes me as particularly un-Christian (relevant to some of us), You shall not covet …

    “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”
    ― Thomas Sowell

    • JB says:

      Interesting point(s). I wonder if there is any data of how the population of obese people is distributed across the income spectrum.

  3. Harry says:

    That is one great picture, WC, worthy of a bestselling calendar at Barnes and Noble. Can you copyright it? When you have time, please let us know the setting.

  4. RIT_Rich says:

    You’re asking the wrong question. To the people who concern themselves with “inequality”, no evidence is needed that inequality… causes…evil. Rather, it is obvious to them that inequality…is…evil.

    • RIT_Rich says:

      To put it in other terms, the question of “why should we care about inequality if it hasn’t/can’t be shown to…cause…evil” is based on the assumption that the majority of people think in rational terms. I.e., the “rational” human being will look at someone who is paid more than them and say “well, if they are more productive then me, then there is no problem.”

      Psychologists/sociologists similarly talk about “social comparison” as a calculation of input/output compared to a reference group (typically someone who makes more than you).

      But this is all dependent on the ability to understand the…inputs. Given the level of education, ideological pre-dispositions, and more importantly the INFLATED SENSE OF SELF WORTH which are prevalent in today’s society (I would say this last one, much more so than in the past), the ability of most people to accurately figure out their own input/output calculations, and more so those of high performers in, for example, highly complex high-tech industries or highly complex financial industries…is virtually impossible.

      So we have a major information asymmetry problem in terms of being able to compare input-outputs between “most people” and those which are very high performers (and this is exactly what SHOULD happen, since in a high-tech economy the only way to make abnormally high productivity/returns is precisely by becoming more specialized and causing more causal ambiguity, and therefore increasing information asymmetry between your inputs and external observers, otherwise, others could copy you!)

      So having an inflated view of themselves, and being increasingly unable to figure out what the “inputs” of high-performers actually are…people revert to the default position that “SOMETHING must be wrong with what they/me are being compensated, and SOMETHING must be done!”

      So it seems to me this is a rather simple cause of information asymmetry.

      They necessarily perceive that the “market” is over-compensating those at the top, and under-compensating those at the bottom, being unable to figure out what the actual input/output calculations are for BOTH cases.

      The solution seems to me to be an impossibility:
      1) Stop inflating people’s sense of self worth (not going to happen!)
      2) Educate people that the market is “somewhat” efficient in distributing rewards (not going to happen!)

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