04 March 2013

"Wealth inequality in America"

 

21 comments:

  1. Right - and he's very careful (at least in the first 2/3rds) to NOT mention that several billion people OUTSIDE "this country" wouldn't even show on the left side of the graph.

    "Wealth" (dollar value of assets or income???) is at best a very crude proxy of well being, and some measures are very distorted (owning a big hunk of some company doesn't mean you can actually lay hands on cash to spend at your whim.) He also avoids talking about tax burden, real total implicit marginal rates (which are oddly very high on the low as well as the high ends) and many other distortions.

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  2. Well, the title is "Wealth inequality in America" not the world. To add the global population would prove what exactly? That poor people here are wealthier than the poor elsewhere?

    And there is no claim that wealth equates to well being, so bringing that up is a big tell. It's true that owning a big chunk of productive capital does not means you can spend that in cash but it does mean you have enough income to invest which many do not have. If owning productive capital wasn't worth anything, why do so many do it and why do they live as they do?

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    1. It's a typical right wing/libertarian fallacy. They try to suggest that absolutely insane wealth inequality is acceptable in the first world (for now) U.S. because people are starving in Bangladesh or wherever. Yes, we are rich compared to them, but we are not compared to other first world Western countries. You'll notice that those guys never want to compare these measures of success and prosperity with Scandinavian or some European countries, because we fail in all ways. Fact is, there are many other European countries where the storied "American Dream" of rising up on the economic ladder to prosperity is much more likely than it is in the U.S.

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  3. "elsewhere is worse than here, so here is actually ok"
    that works for sexism, rasism and other unequality problems.
    its a nice and easy way to keep the situation like it is

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  4. First off, and in less sensationalist terms, I try to use "three million" instead of "1%" to characterize the top earners. 24% of the nation's wealth distributed between 3 million is a lot less alarming, and puts things in better perspective. The way it's described right now, and with previous videos about the 1% shown here in mind, it would appear that common perception of the supposed "1%" is that it's twelve guys in a boardroom smoking cigars and laughing like Disney villains. Given the nature of the global economy today, and the flourishing of ideas and intellectual property as marketable items, the notion that three million people can be making billions off of intangible goods isn't that far-fetched.

    Indeed, on that notion, let us remember that monetary compensation is not a function of effort or productivity, but simply a number determined by the current market value of a good or service provided. While you may feel that your local school janitor is worth more than an investment banker, it is obviously unfeasible to pay him as such, since the service he or she provides simply does not benefit the school system to the extent that such grand remuneration would demand. We must also acknowledge that said investment banker does not act in a vacuum either, and his own recompense is granted precisely because someone else has benefited sufficiently from his or her expertise. All such transactions, painful as they may be, are made willingly between two parties far more informed about their respective situations than you or I, and as such far better able to gauge what they need.

    Finally, I would warn against concentrating on what makes these three million separate from you or I. I would challenge you to find a public information campaign that both demonized and dehumanized a subset of the population while having a beneficial and moral result. Have you considered simply talking with these people rather than threatening torches and pitchforks?

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    1. "his or her expertise"

      Like insider trading, betting against their own investment recommendations, fraudulent loan modifications, legal and illegal tax loopholes (both foreign and domestic), banks specifically catering to money laundering, and the plethora of other innumerable short cuts and runarounds to cook the books till death do they part.

      You bet they don't work in a vacuum - got that right!

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    2. You would characterize the majority of the top 3 million's activity as such?

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    3. Percentages are used in statistics because they make sense. Three million people in a country of 15 million citizens is not the same as in a country of 300 million.
      I can't see a reason for talking in absolute numbers, if not to mislead or confuse others.

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    4. Anon- You couldn't have any group of people willingly defy and break so many laws, so often- only to escape any kind of prosecution if their power base was not interconnected and substantial in number.

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    5. So they're all in on it. And you base that on nothing more than conjecture? That's a lot a guilt to place on three million for so little actual evidence...

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    6. Anon- I'm not going to play your infantile all or nothing at all game. As for conjecture- read the news....

      You can start here:

      http://rense.com/general28/money.htm

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    7. For the record...

      http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/178_45/how-holder-s-surprising-too-big-to-jail-admission-changes-debate-1057303-1.html

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    8. Interesting quote; thanks, Stan B.

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  5. I really am curious what the 1% has to say. On the other hand I didn't see anything in the video that suggested torches and pitchforks.

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    1. I can't glimpse any sincerity in your comment, buy I will take this opportunity to share a document that very well answers the question you rise:

      http://www.lust-for-life.org/Lust-For-Life/CitigroupImbalances_October2009/CitigroupImbalances_October2009.pdf

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    2. Wow. That's an impressive document, Paulo. I wish I had more time to study it now, but we're having yet another blizzard. Bookmarked. Tx.

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    3. Citi- that wonderful group who fired their entire janitorial staff in the late '80s so they could hire non union temps, P/T, at lower ages w/o benefits... and increase executive bonuses!

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    4. Thank you, Stan. It is good to be on any service.

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  6. Saw this today in Forbes:

    "If you’ve no debts and have $10 in your pocket you have more wealth than 25% of Americans. More than that 25% of Americans have COLLECTIVELY that is."

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  7. @Anonymous - and the remedial plan for this is what? Forbid people to borrow money to buy a dwelling, car, or the like, so that nobody has any debt? Give everybody in the lower 25% $10 they can exchange, but only with each other so none of it leaks to the other 75%? The "no debt" qualifier is naive and disingenous - debt (for good and bad) is one of the greatest instruments of economics, growth, and living standards. (That standard would suggest that a homeless person just handed $10 by a passerby deserves 25th percentile ranking in well being in the US - really? I think not.)

    As for comments above - I didn't invoke "pitchforks" somebody else did.

    If we only want to talk about "this country" why not ask why so much wealth is concentrated in DC, NY, and CA? Perhaps those three places should be required to transfer large sums of money to everybody else?

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  8. If you distributed all of the money equally to each person, I would be willing to bet in 5 years the graph would look the same.

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