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Income inequality
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Cybrweez
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:32 pm    Post subject: Income inequality Reply with quote

This area is not one of my strengths, so I'm hoping to learn what other people think about it.

www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/wm2035.cfm
Talks about Census numbers from 2007, and how, at least these numbers, indicate a shrink b/w middle and rich in income, no increase in poverty level.

www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg1713.cfm
This talk about poverty in 2002, and looks at what the Census considers poverty. In effect, the real level of poverty is much lower than Census numbers.

In both instances, the Heritage is pushing the idea that work and marriage lower the poverty level.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure what you're asking there 'Weez. Are Americans as poor as the government claims? *shrug* I dunno about that. But the World Bank has just revised the global poverty line to $1.25 a day.

And over half the population of the world live on under $2.50 a day.

That's poverty.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yea, what is the poverty like in America? And what is the gap b/w middle and rich? If these are accurate, it improved in 2007, w/o any spread the wealth plan. I just always heard that the middle class is getting farther from the rich, why?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many of our "impoverished" are fat.

Some facts:

25% of people below the "poverty" line are homeowners.

97% have a color TV.

70% own a car.

Of that 70%, 30% have two cars.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cybrweez wrote:
I just always heard that the middle class is getting farther from the rich, why?


Hmmm, the way I heard it, it wasn't that they were getting further from the rich, it was that it is getting harder and harder to reach the next level. Upward social mobility is stagnating.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Cybrweez wrote:
I just always heard that the middle class is getting farther from the rich, why?


Hmmm, the way I heard it, it wasn't that they were getting further from the rich, it was that it is getting harder and harder to reach the next level. Upward social mobility is stagnating.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobel laureate in economics Paul Krugman of Princeton University has done the best work on income inequality in this country in recent years. He has a lot of interesting (and I think correct) recommendations to make.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think income inequality is natural, mathematical, and the market behaving as it should: freely. Unconstrained--except for regulations against fraud, price fixing, monopolies, etc. And not only is it a natural consequence of free market capitalism, it is also the best way to make everyone more prosperous; "best" in both pragmatic terms, and in terms of fairness.

In pragmatic terms, it's simply a historical fact: capitalism has produced our current era of prosperity, creating a middle class, a super rich elite (we always had those, but not to this level), and a relatively well-off poor (compared to the poor of previous centuries).

In terms of fairness: you earn as much as you contribute value to the economy. And value is measured by your fellow man. If you flip burgers, you earn as much as that is worth to people. If you employ thousands of people and build something like cars, for instance, then your actions are lot more valuable.

But I'm getting side-tracked. My point is that I think of expansion of the economy like the expansion of the universe. It's not linear. It's accelerating the farther out you look. This isn't because some force is pushing far away galaxies differently than closer galaxies. Rather, it is just a natural consequence of what happens when the whole is expanding together. If you're not familiar with cosmology, the usual example given to visualize this expansion is raisins in a loaf of baking bread. As the loaf expands, the raisins farther away from each other are retreating at a faster rate than raisins closer to each other.

Sure, the economy isn't spatial. But it is growing in an analogous way. When capitalism is working correctly, the rich are going to see their wealth expand at a much greater rate. Trying to mess with this through wealth redistribution, heavy government intervention, or downright socialism, just slows the natural growth of the whole. It destroys the loaf. If you look at Europe's economic growth compared to our own, for instance, the long term truth is clear. Our economy grows at a much greater rate than more socialist countries.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly compared to the present poor of other countries. My country probably has one of the greatest income disparities in the world, with around 40% of people living under the (real) poverty line.

The "fairness" argument unfortunately doesn't strictly apply either, since the country has never been a real meritocracy, (on average in real terms I mean...obviously merit figures for many people, and creates many opportunities, but I would wager that it is less of a "guarantee" of success (or even subsistance) than in many other countries) either under past regimes, or the current one.

But I'm still unclear as to the purpose of the original post...Is it bad? Good? Inevitable? Right? Wrong?

--A
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My original intent (oops) was just to hear some ideas about income inequality. I said this area is not my stength, so I was hoping to learn a bit more.

I just know the idea that there's a gap b/w rich and poor, and the gap is growing, is commonly bemoaned, and that the poverty level is rising. So I guess part of it is, are these things true? And, are these things bad? Probably no one would say a rising poverty level is good, but I guess the rest is debatable. I just can't contribute much b/c I don't know enough, so I was hoping to hear other thoughts.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though she understands the concepts well enough now I've tried to explain "income inequality" to my daughter in the past to help her understand why her teacher's salary is $25k a year while Tom Cruise gets $5mil for a single movie.
In her view the teacher's job is far more important and I've always said that I agree. However the impact each task has on the community at large is very different. Tom Cruise's salary is based on many things but one thing that separate's his income stream from that of a middle school teacher is that what he does has a measurable dollar impact on millions of people all over the world where the teacher's contribution, though more important, has a measurable social (not monetary) impact on a hundred or so children a year. And said teacher receives a salary based on the over all task not for any kind of profit gleaned from people paying money to see him/her teach.
The same can be said about a company that employs hundreds of thousands of workers and creates a product that millions of people clamor for, paying whatever they can afford to own said product.
I would sometimes get an innocent question like "what if my teacher taught millions of kids?" I'd have to say. "That would impact the same number of people as Tom Cruise but your teacher/fireman/policeman/soldier wouldn't be performing his/her tasks and receiving a dollar for every person they impact.
Of course this leads to discussions about professional sports players with multi million dollar contracts etc. Again those people get those salaries because millions of fans buy tickets, t-shirts and are influenced by product endorsements. The guy working at the corner garage makes money from just one customer at a time. Sure we an grumble about the inequality of such things but logic does go a long way in explaining why.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah...it's a funny old world huh? I'm not a big fan of the huge multi-million dollar paychecks some fields/whatever bring in. But I'm honest enough to realise that part of my problem with them is that nobody is offering one to me. Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good statement, Av. Most people are just jealous. Success is a choice!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Yeah...it's a funny old world huh? I'm not a big fan of the huge multi-million dollar paychecks some fields/whatever bring in. But I'm honest enough to realise that part of my problem with them is that nobody is offering one to me. Wink

--A


Well it's quite simple really. Just perform some task or create some product that millions of people will pay for.

I realize that's pretty much the same as the tried and true advice of becoming a millionaire....1) Get a million dollars Big Grin
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah...just doesn't seem right somehow though...that there are people dying for want of a tiny fraction of what film or sports stars are paid.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Yeah...just doesn't seem right somehow though...that there are people dying for want of a tiny fraction of what film or sports stars are paid.

--A


That's true and we as humans are gifted with sympathy for those that have not and envy for those that have excess. Thankfully because of our logic and understanding we don't base our opinions and decisions solely on reality blinding emotion...or do we... Twisted Evil

Besides every late night cable program features some guy/gal that promises that they can teach...EVEN YOU...how to make money with little or no effort on your part. Just send $29.95 in 20 easy installments to them and they'll unlock the secrets of making the kind of cash you've always dreamed of and it takes no imagination, no skill and no pesky determination on your part. Just sit back and watch the money pile up on your doorstep. Ahhhhh... sipping exotic drinks poolside with beautiful women prancing about.

Seems a bit hard to believe though, but these guys are working very hard to help their fellow man. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harbinger wrote:
Success is a choice!
To be fair, I think the choice is a liiiitlle more different for some people than for others.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hahaha, aTOMic, there advice will no doubt be "Sell this plan to other people like I did..." Wink

Anyway, I agree with Prebe...Not that Harbinger is completely wrong, but it's not quite as simplistic as that for everybody.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prebe wrote:
Harbinger wrote:
Success is a choice!
To be fair, I think the choice is a liiiitlle more different for some people than for others.


I have no doubt that the "choice of success" for Paris Hilton is certainly different than the daughter of a poverty stricken single parent janitor.
But in spite of the huge challenges that janitor's daughter faces, she would not be the first person to overcome adversity on the road to achievement. It's one of the things I love about America, that anything IS possible but it isn't always easy or simply given.

Of course there are times when I wish success was as easy as simply wanting it. I'm not always up for the struggle and taking the occasional kick in the crotch can be quite discouraging. But we keep plugging along.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now make that the daughter of a poverty-stricken, single-parent janitor in Ethiopia and the "choices" become something else again...

--A
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