March 13, 2013

"Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality?"

Think Progress tells us it's something called "system justification":
[P]eople are “motivated to defend, bolster, and rationalize the social systems that affect them — to see the status quo as good, fair, legitimate, and desirable,” because it serves their own internal needs and desires as humans. It helps them “manage uncertainty and threat and smooth out social relationships,” and “enables people to cope with and feel better about the societal status quo and their place in it” ....

[T]here’s a powerful need in our own lives to reduce difficult feelings and anxieties when confronting the limitations of our social and economic order. 
It's true that people seek meaning in whatever exists. Everything happens for a reason. God has a plan. It's for the best. We want to like what we must deal with. It's a life skill. People who lack it are depressed. But we should also develop our critical thinking. That doesn't mean that if only we could think critically we'd get fired up about wealth inequality. Just because we're motivated to believe that the status quo is good doesn't mean the status quo isn't good. The fact that something currently exists is some evidence that it works better than untried, untested alternatives.
[C]hronically high system-justifiers, such as political conservatives, are happier (as measured in terms of subjective well-being) than are chronically low system-justifiers, such as liberals, leftists, and others who are more troubled by the degree of social and economic inequality in our society. 
Given that the left position is inherently depressive, it's interesting that showbiz folk have succeeded in making it feel good to be left-wing.

120 comments:

chrisnavin.com said...

I think it's good that we've gone meta with the whole red/blue divide.

Kind of solving race through our politics, especially when we have no money.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I assume the college newspapers are all still publishing that same editorial complaining about student apathy.

chickelit said...

People are skeptical about the goal of equalizing income. The lefties have become inequality deniers on so many social issues that instead of embracing and reminding that some inequality is necessary, they are perceived as destroyers of potential.

MayBee said...

I think show biz people have made it feel cool to be left-wing, or perhaps made it feel righteous to be left wing, without making it feel good to be left-wing.

I mean, a lot of show biz people are not really happy people, even when they are funny or cool.

Shanna said...

Because we learned in elementary school that life isn't fair?

X said...

it is unequal how some people live off the taxpayers for entire careers. I think everyone should be entitled to a government job at some point in their life along with a cap on how long they can remain in the public sector: you're fired, it's someone else's turn.

Chip S. said...

The capitalist ruling clique has come up w/ an ingenious plan for maintaining its hegemony--cheap food and hi-def tv keep us fat and happy.

When Sam Walton first proposed this plan at the Bohemian Grove in 1969, his fellow plutocrats all laughed. Especially the Rockefellers, who still advocated a cheap-gasoline strategy to keep us all in cars when we took to the streets.

YoungHegelian said...

Why aren't more Americans pissed off about inequality?

Because, unlike the Left, most of this country understands in their gut if not in their heads that declaring war on contingency in human affairs is a cure that is far worse the disease.

Surfed said...

Off topic - I'm not at my computer and have to search for all my go to blogs this morning. I Bing up Althouse on a search and there you are as a brunette. Meade my like the uhhhh...diversity. But I miss the blonde on blonde. What's up with the photoshoped hair?

TosaGuy said...

"The key for progressives is to figure out how to turn real concerns about inequality into sustained “moral outrage” that can force our economic and political system to do something to create more equitable conditions."

Because being "outraged" is just so much fun for people (eyeroll)

When leftists figure out how to create more equitable conditions without taking away my liberty and what I have earned, then I will take a listen to what they have to say.

BarrySanders20 said...

North Korea has lots of equality. The misery is almost universal.

TosaGuy said...

"Just a year and half ago, Occupy Wall Street was all anyone could talk about."

Uh no....it wasn't.

A few talked about it, most people ignored it or mocked it.

William said...

Some inequalities are more unequal than other inequalities. I'm a child of the lumpenproleteriat, but I'm white. Apparently the racial advantages of being white are so stupendous that they trump all other disadvantages. On my own compass, I made my way to the lower middle class. Big whoop. That's what white people are supposed to do.....OK, there are such things as racism, homophobia, and sexism. They're not just the creation of the grievance mongers, but how do you measure the relative valence of all the inequalities of the world and give them just the right weight. It's just not possible. And if you give anyone that power, you just create another privileged class and another grievance factory.

Surfed said...
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Tibore said...

"Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality?"

Because they realize that it's a sign of both 1. Income being truly earned and 2. Social Mobility.

If liberals would concentrate on what can trap a person in poverty, they could get a lot of conservatives on board with the conversation, even though they'd differ in approaches (state vs. non-governmental effort). But instead, they'd rather claim that achievement is what's evil, and tar everyone who's successful with that overly broad brush. It's their excuse to tax, not to lift up.

Economic inequality due to oligarchies or aristocracies being repressive is one thing. Inequality due to successful people moving upward is another. As long as people have equality of opportunity then thing are fair. It's only the liberals who want to solve poverty by making lopping off the top instead of lifting up the bottom.

Russell said...

This a fun topic in the 'meta' sense: that we rationalize what most effects us. No greater example of this is public schools. I live in a very Red section of the country (suburban Atlanta) and I'm always amazed at how readily hard core Republicans are to raise taxes for schools and (to my mind, worse) kill or at least undermine charter schools and buy, hook line and sinker, the official PTA line (read: the teacher and adminstrator's line) on why charter schools are bad and tax increases for more schools are ALWAYS good. This is why general school choice has had such a hard time in areas you'd expect the message to find sympathy.

I bet if you polled 100,000 Americans the following two questions (in this order): are you satisfied with American public education, you'd get a plurality of no's if not an outright majority. Next, if you asked are you satisfied with YOUR LOCAL public schools, you'd get 85-90% approval. I've never seen these questions asked this way, but I'd wager good money that would be the result. Again, people think its other people's schools that suck. I think there is a great macro-psychology paper in there somewhere.

robinintn said...

I'm not really clear what they mean by "inequality", but the reason I'm not "fired up" about where I am is that it's easy to see that I am where I put myself, and I assume most other people are where they put themselves as well.

robinintn said...

And oh yes, Tibore, social mobility.

TMink said...

America is the most integrated and diverse and least oppressive country in the history of the world. It is known.

In this system, the burden of effort is squarely on the individual as the sytem is the best yet devised. Inequality of outcome has more to do with poor choices and inequality of effort and bad luck than it has to do with the system. That is why we are not fired out about inequality: It is not the problem.

Trey

The Drill SGT said...

"Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality?"

Because, most folks recognize that:

1. Our poor are wealthier than 99% of the planet and wealthier in absolute terms than they have ever been before
2. The Left have created a new definiion of poverty that is unfixable. If you define poverity as the folks in the lowest 20% of a wealthy country, guess what, you'll always have 20% poverty (PS: I know it's not that simple, but close)
3. folks recognize that 50 years of anti-poverty programs have left the poor worse off than when they were, you know, poor, with intact nuclear families.

Nonapod said...

Some people are just in love with being concerned about stuff. But most people just concern themselves with what's immediately in from of them, what's going on in there own lives. Consequently the later group is probably generally happier than the former. By definition you have more agency in what's going in your immediate life (as opposed to the big, all encompassing issues).

Progressives by their nature need to invent problems when none can be found, since of course there needs to be a reason for more and more government. It's not surprising that someone who is constantly looking for problems and things to be concerned (grievances) would be perpetually unhappy.

Methadras said...

I'm not fired up about inequality because I believe that inequality is a misnomer to begin with. Life isn't fair to begin with. Gosh, I wish I was born to an elite, super rich family, but you know what I wasn't. And I don't care. Leftists trot out inequality as a sledgehammer for the 'fair' movement because in reality, their world view of inequality is to make everyone equally miserable whether they know it or not. In order to make everything fair you have to decide where the benchmark of fairness is. Is it to take away from everyone and make them all equally poor? Is it to choose the middle and take from the wealthy to give to the poor so the poor can climb to the middle while the wealthy drop to the middle? Or is it to make everyone wealthy, in which I have no way of knowing how that could be attainable much less sustainable. Which leaves me with the prior two. And I know for a fact that the middle class is the go to wallet for the socio-political equality justice police.

The idea that think progress fosters and promotes these ridiculous and baseless fantasy ideas is indicative of just how utterly dangerous leftism is and why it needs to be stamped out or at least begin the process of eliminating it. It has no basis in reality, it has no basis in legitimacy.

Thorley Winston said...

I'm not really clear what they mean by "inequality", but the reason I'm not "fired up" about where I am is that it's easy to see that I am where I put myself, and I assume most other people are where they put themselves as well.

That’s it in a nutshell. In their gut people know that for all of the perceived “unfairness” of life, most of the things that go right or wrong with the majority of people’s lives are because of things that they did or didn’t do. And almost all of the “remedies” that have been proposed to make things more “equal” are about alleviating people of the responsibility for their own decisions.



traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

The American experiment from 1620 on has been a Real Estate scheme of property owners claiming lands in order to resell real property, and trading in guns and gun powder, wagons, oxen teams, forest products, tobacco and food.

That free market always tends to raise the owners up and accepts as a system that the hopeful but not yet owners are only down until the next opportunity comes for educated children down the road.

That faith requires freedom as a rule and a legal system to keep it safe from European Monarchs methods of ruling under a hierarchical redux of an Empire called Rome.

225 Years later we are under direct attack from Britain and the EU who want their system back and seem to rightfully expect to reclaim what George Washington's Scots-Irish Army took from them using its carefully hoarded guns and ammunition that could kill the British Empire Armies faster than they killed the Rebels.

So worshipping equality is a head fake. Those guys plan an agenda of tyranny with an aristocracy...a Kenyan Kingdom idea.

edutcher said...

Equality in the eyes of God.

If the Lefties want us to believe trolls like machine and Diamond are the equal of DBQ, vbspurs, or Roger J, they've got one Hell of a selling job.

I don't have the same income as Bill Gates because I don't have his rapacity or duplicity. I can live with that.

PS For all those other very smart and able people on the right side of the aisle, I mean no offense leaving you out; I had to come up with some quick examples.

AJ Lynch said...

My nephew was just accepted to an Ivyu League med school. He has busted his balls and earned it. He is empathetic, has done much work for Habitat for Humanity yet I think he would be classed as a system justifier.

Libruls like those at Think Progress make excuses - they can rationalize every poor decision a person makes as the fault of the system or the parents or lead paint etc. It is tiresome and the country is depply split between the strivers vs. those that don't even try.

My nephew was flabberghasted, btw, when I gave him the articles re Obama's alter ego Choom. My nephew did not understand why that info was not more widely known.

bagoh20 said...

What? It's all anyone ever talks about. Inequality is the subject on every issue anytime anyone on the left is present.

Can you imagine a worse hell than equality? No hope, no striving, no challenges. Why even wake up in the morning in such a world.

If inequality didn't exist, we would have to invent it to have a reason to live, which is exactly what many on the left do, because they have no imagination. They love inequality, like ants love grains of sand. So much to do, and it's so important.

The overriding quality of being on the right is an honest appreciation of the gradient we live on, the diversity, the opportunities, the inequality that makes life better for living things over the inanimate. You want to bitch about inequality, bitch about that rock over there that can sit on it's ass for centuries and still be a rock long after I've been ground to dust.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

If the goal is to make sure pretty much everyone can dunk a basketball, then the quick and sure solution is to lower the rim to about 5 feet high.

Seeing Red said...

Being outraged is cheap.

If they were really concerned with inequality, they wouldn't be worth what they are.

Besides, it's tiring being outraged all the time.

Conservatives are content. Christians are overall content.

What are the progs really pissed at?

Is it really inequality?

Or something inside themselves?

Guilt they know they're not deserving?

Anger that they're being ignored?

Until everyone is miserable, they're not gonna be happy.

But they will look fab in their designer clothing.

Are they spiritually empty?

AJ Lynch said...

Lastly, I don't think it is a proven fact that there is gross income inequality. The libs act like a person passes some invisible barrier into a state of wealth and once that happens he will never lose that wealth. In the real world, incomes and wealth ebb and flow and people go up the ladder and back down again.

Shouting Thomas said...

Assholes with causes!

The major problem facing the U.S. today is assholes with causes, and how to get them to go home and shut the fuck up.

I.e., Andy R.

JL said...

RE: "system justification" theory: to paraphrase, it takes an intellectual to come up with such bullshit.

The reason people aren't out marching in the streets fighting the inequality inherent in our evil system (/s) is because the majority have it good; much better than their ancestors. They are fat and comfortable and have lots of toys to keep them distracted and entertained.

If/when that changes, and food or fuel gets scarce and expensive, and people lose their toys and comfort, the left and the far right will get to see their longed for revolution.

As for the rich showbiz folks, they support leftist causes to compensate for being so obscenely wealthy. "I may be rich, but at least I feel bad about it."

bgates said...

Try telling a young chronically low system-justifier that the FDR era policies his great-great-grandparents voted into place were bad ideas.

bgates said...

As a chronically low system-justifier, I'm troubled by the degree of social and economic inequality in our society, and I'm soooo happy that Bono, Beyonce, Al Gore, and all the other cool super-rich people feel the same way!

Jay said...

Uh, fixing "inequality" requires that everyone's life gets crappier.

This has borne out in every society that has ever attempted to have "the people" be equal.

Perhaps the dummies at Think Progress could open a history book.

I won't hold my breath on that, however.

Seeing Red said...

This was at Insty today

--SORRY — NO OPPORTUNITY FOR GRAFT OR POLITICAL POWER TRIPPING: How to Fix America’s Wealth Inequality: Teach Americans to Be Cheap. “Today, wealth equality is closely tied to income equality. But in the long run, it’s all about thrift, frugality, and saving — in other words, teaching a consumer nation a lesson in cheapness.”

We’d also need government policies that reward saving, instead of punishing it.--



My 1st thought was middle-class values.

My 2nd thought was the dawning realization of the lefties that conservatives have the idea of breeding to solve some of the progs' problems.


LOLOLOL

They hate their parents, they hate those who are in trade, they hate themselves, they hate the bourgesoisie.

BECAUSE WE'RE BORING.

They have the attn span of gnats.

Is that what it really is?

The overall curse of being boring? Stable?

Not gritty like NYC of the 60s &
70s?

Too sterile?

DADvocate said...

Why are lefties so obsesses with their bastardized version of equality where every basketball game would end in a tie? Why don't they care about freedom? Why do they try to stomp out freedom?

It's not that people are motivated to defend, bolster and rationalize systems that affect them. It's that they see the systems differently, from a different perspective. It's not that a bunch of us think that everything happens for a reason, God has a plan or it's for the best. That's stupid crap and a sign of shallow reasoning by the people who say others think that way.

We see ourselves as having more control over our lives, as being able to attain the standard of living we desire through our own efforts and wiles. We see examples of people doing this, Sam Walton, or my father in law who grew up in a dirt poor farming family, continues farming as an adult, and died worth $10 million.

Liberals are more depressed because they see themselves as not having control of their lives, as being as the mercy of factors outside their control. Such beliefs lead one to depression as you see yourself as having no more hope than a ship lost at sea with no sails or engine.

The wailings as Think Progress are those souls who see themselves as being in that hopeless, sinking ship hoping someone else will rescue them.

Jay said...

such as liberals, leftists, and others who are more troubled by the degree of social and economic inequality in our society.

Yes, they are so "troubled" by inequality that they give fewer dollars to charity than conservatives.

bgates said...

I've never seen these questions asked this way, but I'd wager good money that would be the result.

That's the way it works for Congress. Individual representatives are virtually always reelected - even in 2010, 342 of 435 seats went to incumbents - while the institution as a whole regularly has approval ratings rivaling diphtheria.

Rick67 said...

Gee, I'm "conservative", and I think our system is increasingly screw up and broken but not because of "inequality" per se, but because it's engineered to give power, status, and wealth to statists/collectivists.

In other words, the Think Progess theory is horse poop.

Big Mike said...

My take FWIW it's worth is that, first of all, TosaGuy is absolutely correct that there are many -- far too many -- people who always have to be wildly indignant about something or another. Deep inside Liberals are aware that the many real problems have been solved: Lake Erie doesn't catch fire anymore, Jim Crow is dead and good riddance. Some of the more intelligent and introspective among the liberals may be uncomfortably aware that there are numerous problems that have been caused by liberalism, but they cannot bring themselves to deal with any of them. So what's left are fake "problems" like income inequality, finding racism where none exists, finding sexism whenever a woman is denied a promotion (no matter that she turns in crappy work behind schedule), etc.

I agree with Tibore at 10:55, and (mostly) with robinintn, with the caveat that one of the problem that liberals have created via the "soft bigotry of low expectations" is the poor education provided to children born in poverty in inner cities and the high crime rates that poor education engenders. It would not surprise me in the least if sometime last year a young Black child with the potential to solve Einstein's Grand Unified Theory, was shot to death by a gang. Not that he would have had a crack at the GUT because his education would not have prepared him or her to attempt even high school math much less calculus and ordinary and partial differential equations.

That's on you, garage and Ritmo.

Carol said...

Hahaha, they huffed and puffed to hype this income inequality issue a couple years ago, but the intended targets don't care. LOL @ Journolist and other meme-mongers.

Tank said...

1. Life is not fair.

2. People are not born with equal ability.

3. People do not try equally hard.

4. People do not make equally intelligent decisions.

5. I am concerned about the inequality caused by gov'ts of every size fixing the game to benefit themselves and their "friends." Is there a reason to be upset about, say, AIG, Goldman and Citi being rich. Well, yes. They should all be bankrupt and gone, but the gov't took our money, fixed the system, and made them all richer - all after the great damage they helped to do to this country. So there are things to be upset about. On the other hand, I don't really worry about. It's reality, and I accept it. I can't fix it, no one can, most don't want to.

Shanna said...

The major problem facing the U.S. today is assholes with causes

Funny, I just started singing in my head the "This is the coalition, to ban coalitions..." song.

Hagar said...

There is a large section of the left that are much more concerned with cutting down the rich than they are with lifting up the poor.

(Except themselves, of course. As our intellectual superiors and leaders they deserve some special privileges.)

But almost all our ancestors were poor people who struck out for America for the bare chance to strike it rich. If they had wanted to continue to share in the common misery, they would have stayed where they were.

Fernandinande said...

"The key for progressives is to figure out how to turn trumped-up concerns about everything into sustained “moral outrage”"

'Cuz socialists are more moral than us mere mortals.

Meade said...

"Given that the left position is inherently depressive, it's interesting that showbiz folk have succeeded in making it feel good to be left-wing."

The left position is more than just inherently depressive -- it's manic-depressive. The show, Girls, comes to mind.

TosaGuy said...

"Assholes with causes!

The major problem facing the U.S. today is assholes with causes, and how to get them to go home and shut the fuck up."

The inequitable U.S. has so much wealth slothing around for so many people that our economy can support whole industries of people engaged in one cause or another and not creating a single useful thing that makes the economy work.

These folks so bent on finding mountains in the anthills have no idea just how much their life would suck and just how grueling their work would be if everyone had the same thing everyone else had.

traditionalguy said...

What Seeing Red said @ 11:17.

AlanKH said...

"Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality?"

Because ethical people are more concerned about the means than the ends, you ThinkProgress thieves.

roesch/voltaire said...

Mashable has an interesting use of data and animations to show just how great the gap is...found here:
http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/

gerry said...

I work with a guy - a hyperliberal - and I've asked him "Why are you so outraged by everything?"

He replied that he sees change as a good and status quo as bad.

Jim said...

Vilfredo Pareto, Italian engineer and economist, identified this phenomenon in 1906. Across all social institutions 20% of the individuals control 80% of the wealth. The name for the distribution is exponential.

Inequality is ameliorated in our society by rapid diffusion of material goods from the wealthy to the poor. For example, prescription drugs are funded almost entirely by the 20% (makers)who pay full bore for the drugs prior to patent expiration. After patent expiration, the 80% (takers) only pay the cost of production.

Time is the great equalizer. The takers in America live better than the makers did 100 years ago. Don't hate this; embrace it.

Peter said...

The worst inequality is inequality of ability. How fair is it that some are smarter than others, better looking than others, more talented than others?

Kurt Vonnetut wrote the classic on how to fix this:

http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

X said...

Government could cap government salaries at 5 figures and cap public pensions at median income. That would reduce income inequality.

Colonel Angus said...

I was pretty fired up about the inequality of growing up poor so instead of getting poorer, I started my own business and with luck, hard work and long hours I'm happily unpoor and dare I say, pretty damn well off.

It seems that the Think Progress types don't see the route I took as the path to removing, or at least, mitigating inequality but rather that a portion of my earnings or wealth go to someone else.

Henry said...

Who explains this theory of "system justification"? Why it's "John Jost, a professor of psychology and political science at NYU."

I wonder what system he's busily engaged in justifying?

Actually I don't, any more than I wonder what kind of system the papal conclave supports.

More from Jost: "moral outrage motivates people to engage in helping behavior and to support social change"

Color me skeptical. "Helping behavior" and "social change" are not synonyms. Spare me your pop psychology, Mr. Tenure.

acm said...

It's no mystery how the left makes a depressing worldview feel so good. Harping about inequality is easy. If you hold that everyone deserves the same outcome, then you have no particular obligation to work any harder or share your own stuff. It's a childish worldview...when my kids were very small they expressed it by bugging me to dole out the same number of cookies to each of them. Leftists don't share their own cookies, they just pester Mom to give everyone the same amount. To accept the ultimately more satisfying view on the right, you have to accept that there is no mom to make it all fair, and that you do have an obligation to work harder and/or share more and accept less than your neighbors, depending on your own skills and situation.

carrie said...

Because the liberal elite is really a small group and most people who don't fall within that group feel that they have been treated unequally and they have had to worry about overcoming the inequalites that affected them personally and instead of worrying about other people. And most of these people also disagree with who the liberal elite think has been treated unequally. The most discriminated against group in America is probably poor white male evangelical Christians from the South but the liberal elite sure aren't concerned about helping them.

Synova said...

When I start thinking about income inequality and I look at my country around me, I'm ashamed of the whining children who think that they are the beginning and the end of the entire world where every single one of OUR whining babies is in the 1%.

I can be upset about the crappy economy and the crappy plans to "fix" it that will only make it worse, but if I point at the 1% in my own country it's the proverbial "one finger pointing at you; three fingers pointing at me" situation.

Anyone who is concerned with income inequality or "relative" wealth in the US who thinks that they're on the poor side is refusing to look at the "problem" at all, in an rational way past their own selfish sense of grievance.

*They* are oppressed by having low relative wealth, but the people living in real "relative" poverty all over the world? Why, they're picturesque, quaint, living-in-harmony-with-nature natives. Whooo hooo!

My privileged smug knows no bounds!

chrisnavin.com said...

They are not spiritually empty in my experience, but many seek group membership, identity, careers, meaning, etc. through certain abstract ideas. Most liberals are seeking alternative moral thinking as a source for the laws, politics and public policy. We're past religion now and the new Science of Reason shall be our guide.

Many know quite easily what they are against: Tradition, religion, conservatism more generally, when they join into group membership with certain ideas. Not all though.

Some have displaced the certainty of meaning that religion gives (science can't answer these questions) with some products of Enlightenment thinking.

It could be the New Atheism, meaning through the arts (romanticism, modernism, postmodernism, existentialism nihilism), it could be with actual Communism, Socialism, Marxism, but outright identity with those political philosophies is rarer in the US (not always in the academy, though).

Like we saw with Bob Wright, a fondness for Marxist materialism as a stopgap measure to explain history, evolutionary psychology to explain our past, our interior lives, and how we ought to behave in groups, along with a personal and 'scholarly' attempt to turn Buddhism into a foeld of study (comparative religion) all garner interest.

If such ideas are also combined with solidarity through music, pop culture, the counter culture, any minority group experiencing injustice of some sort, then they will grow in popularity and influence. The logic of relativism is very much with us.

America is a young country with old ideas, as I misquote Santayana.

Carol said...

Yes there is great inequality, no lie, but *they* ginned up this cause in order to raise taxes.

Nothing about how they have sent our good jobs overseas, constantly try to guilt-trip us into amnesty (again), and lobby to import more cheap H1-B workers to take over IT. This, supported by all parties concerned of course.

Nothing about that side of income inequality. Where is the AFL-CIO when you need them? etc.

Carol said...

Yes there is great inequality, no lie, but *they* ginned up this cause in order to raise taxes.

Nothing about how they have sent our good jobs overseas, constantly try to guilt-trip us into amnesty (again), and lobby to import more cheap H1-B workers to take over IT. This, supported by all parties concerned of course.

Nothing about that side of income inequality. Where is the AFL-CIO when you need them? etc.

Rick Caird said...

I have never been concerned about income inequality or how much someone else makes. I only worry about how much make. I do get the point of worrying about income inequality particularly since it is difference people in each quintile as time goes on. the rich get poorer and the poor get richer.

chrisnavin.com said...

Like many people who don't produce anything but ideas, many are dependent on the academy, political activism, grant money, and the public dole.

It's convenient that their self-interest aligns with their broadened definitions of the public good.

Of course, they will be impartial deciders of what's in the public interest and the common good.

Even if they had total power, the ideals would never be met, but there would be almost no freedom, economic nor political.

The libertarian fight is against collectivism, and pursuing virtue under collectivist principles. Libertarians share a broader definition of personal liberty, away from the moral doctrines of the church, and are more comfortable with anarchy/hierarchy.

But they hate Statism and collectivism.

Shouting Thomas said...

It's true that people seek meaning in whatever exists.

A bizarre negative description of the reality, which is that sensible people are grateful for that which exists.

You've got a few choices. You can bitch about things, be indifferent, or you can be grateful for this life, with all its limitations, that God gave to you.

Which is the better strategy for a happy and productive life?

Lyssa said...

I've never understood why I'm supposed to be upset by inequality. Yes, some people have more than me, and some have less. Some people are prettier than me, some are uglier. Some are stronger, some are weaker; some are healthier and some are sicker.

I learned to accept that when I was a child. It's the way of the world.

The "average" human being across history hasn't had access to clean water, antibiotics, or reading and writing. Put things into perspective, and we're all pretty damn lucky.

Rusty said...

When everyone is equal, everything will be mediocre.
Thank god for inequality.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Mashable has an interesting use of data and animations to show just how great the gap is...found here:
http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/

Yes R/V. Because if anybody has more than you do they stole it from you.
Peasant.

SGT Ted said...

If there weren't an active, ongoing pro-Obama propaganda campaign from the Juicebox Mafia Media cartels, Obama wouldn't have been re-elected.

More people would have gotten wise to his policy failures, if there had been accurate reporting from the TV news outlets, instead of excuse making and butt covering and outright ignoring stories that might have brought Obama down.

Then they write this navel gazing neo-Commie drivel wondering why more people don't have class resentments in America.

That most don't have this kneejerk class resentment is heartening, because most normal Americans still recognize that there is a large amont of class mobility in this country if you apply yourself and use your brain, unlike the drones posing as news reporters that cannot grasp that the world doesn't comport with leftist class oppression fantasies and most ironically, despite the success in life they have achieved on their own, due to their own hard work.

Seeing Red said...

Grandpa said, "Be happy with what you have because there will always be people with more and people with less."

n.n said...

It's because income inequality is not the principal issue. The issue is cost of living. The issue is real and manufactured political, economic, and social distortions, which cause inflation and undermine risk management. The issue is progressive corruption and dysfunctional convergence.

roesch/voltaire said...

Rusty like Althouse I earn over six figures and have a comfortable life, but still I realize, as the graphs point out, that the middle class has lost its earning power over the last thirty years while the one percent has made huge leaps-- I am concerned that this is not the way to keep our democracy healthy.

Meade said...

roesch/voltaire said...
"Rusty like Althouse I earn over six figures and have a comfortable life"

Over six figures? You mean like one or more over six? Althouse doesn't earn over six figures. Roesch/voltaire - you rich onepercenter, you - you need to fork over one of your figures to Althouse pronto, dude. Or do you what, hate equality?

Colonel Angus said...

Life isn't fair to begin with. Gosh, I wish I was born to an elite, super rich family, but you know what I wasn't.

The fact you were born here as opposed to anywhere in Africa, Asia, Central/South America and even half of Europe is hitting the lottery of life.
It wasn't until I spent some time overseas that I realized that even living half my life in the poverty level, I still had it pretty good.

Larry J said...

"Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality?"

There has been strong public outcry against inequality over the past 200 years or so. In the late 1700s, the outcry against inequality was so strong that they had a Reign of Terror. Over 10,000 people were beheaded in the name of equality. In the 20th century, Stalin starved millions of people to create a society where everyone was equal, except for those that weren't. Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution killed tens of millions of people, mostly in the name of equality. Pol Pot was responsible for murdering 1-3 million Laotians to achieve his dream of an equal society.

It isn't as if people like these have never tried to implement their ideas before. Perhaps more than a few Americans aren't fired up about inequality because we know that past attempts at creating equality resulted in millions of deaths. Those crying out against "the 1%" in the name of equality would not hesitate to rob and murder in the name of their ideology.

chickelit said...

Rusty like Althouse I earn over six figures and have a comfortable life, but still I realize, as the graphs point out, that the middle class has lost its earning power over the last thirty years while the one percent has made huge leaps-- I am concerned that this is not the way to keep our democracy healthy.

Those who pine for a return to 1950s style confiscatory tax levels and wealth redistribution should also advocate for a return to that era's mores and social standards and environmental ethics, etc. They might get traction.

chickelit said...

Over six figures = seven figures. But we never trusted R/V's math skills.

Jay said...

still I realize, as the graphs point out, that the middle class has lost its earning power over the last thirty years

Which of course explains why the average American household has two cars.

The entirety of your politicals beliefs is formed on ignorance.

Alex said...

As usual bagoh cuts through all the shit and makes it clear. He even used the word gradient which is so fucking geeky.

Revenant said...

People who are happy with the way things are are happier than people who aren't? That's some cutting insight, Think Progress.

JL said...

"Chronically low system-justifiers" is just a fancy name for "idealists". Idealists are fire-fighters. And if they can't find enough fires to put out, they will attempt to start some-- like the current outrage du jour, "income inequality".

And they have started some doozies -- like the entitlement ponzi scheme that threatens to engulf the entire nanny-state. You would think that the lefty idealists would be leading the charge against bureaucratic waste and corruption in the public sector in order to protect their cherished safety-net programs.

But of course not; if idealists were far-sighted, deep thinkers they'd be cynics.

Revenant said...

the middle class has increased its earning power by 10%, after inflation, over the last thirty years

Fixed.

Henry said...

Obviously we need some sumptuary laws.

chickelit said...

"An ebbing tide strands all yachts first"

the anti-JFK

Colonel Angus said...

Rusty like Althouse I earn over six figures and have a comfortable life, but still I realize, as the graphs point out, that the middle class has lost its earning power over the last thirty years while the one percent has made huge leaps

If you're making six figures that puts you in the one percent. One reason the middle class is losing its earning power is because it by and large is trying to cling to those jobs from 30 years ago that paid a princely wage but are largely gone due to technologies, outsourcing or flat out irrelevance.

It's called marketable skills and once upon a time one could graduate high school, get a job in mfg. and make a very good living. Those days are over and aren't coming back. We can debate the rightness or wrongness but the reality is right there.

Colonel Angus said...

I am concerned that this is not the way to keep our democracy healthy.

Well if the democratic solution is to vote that I have to turn over more of my income to mitigate the income inequality then that's no way to keep our liberty healthy.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Rusty like Althouse I earn over six figures and have a comfortable life, but still I realize, as the graphs point out, that the middle class has lost its earning power over the last thirty years while the one percent has made huge leaps-- I am concerned that this is not the way to keep our democracy healthy.

The way to keep our republic healthy is quit taxing us so much.

Instead of resenting the wealthy for their wealth why not make it easier for more people to become wealthy?
It isn't done by taxing those that have more than you. That is a peasant mentality. So is punishing people who are better off than you are.

roesch/voltaire said...

Last time I looked six figures equals 100 thousand dollars a year or more, which hardly puts Althouse, at $160,000 or myself in the one-percent-- I am all for equal opportunity, but anybody who looks at the chart must realize that something has gone wrong.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Last time I looked six figures equals 100 thousand dollars a year or more, which hardly puts Althouse, at $160,000 or myself in the one-percent-- I am all for equal opportunity, but anybody who looks at the chart must realize that something has gone wrong

Yes. People with a lefty bent like to gen up envy. That's what has gone wrong.
Why is your first instinct to tear down anyone who has more than you?

roesch/voltaire said...

Rusty the Republic was far better off when there were higher taxes, which seem to have little to do with wealth given that we have less taxes but still i note:
"Only about 20 percent of American households even break the six-figure mark, according to Census Bureau data, but while many Americans still see that number as a prized income, it doesn't necessarily roll out the red carpet anymore. Due to the rising costs of food, energy, college tuition, health insurance and the growing "necessities" of a middle-class life, a $100,000 salary in some parts of the country covers little more than the essentials."

Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/100-000-income-no-big-deal-anymore-1.aspx#ixzz2NSChFK11
Follow us: @Bankrate on Twitter | Bankrate on Facebook

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Rusty the Republic was far better off when there were higher taxes, which seem to have little to do with wealth given that we have less taxes but still i note:
"Only about 20 percent of American households even break the six-figure mark, according to Census Bureau data, but while many Americans still see that number as a prized income, it doesn't necessarily roll out the red carpet anymore. Due to the rising costs of food, energy, college tuition, health insurance and the growing "necessities" of a middle-class life, a $100,000 salary in some parts of the country covers little more than the essentials."

The cost of none of those things are the fault of people wealthier than you.

What is it about mediocrity that you find so compelling?

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Rusty the Republic was far better off when there were higher taxes,

An assertion in search of vaslidity.

No it wasn't.

Rusty said...

validity

Rusty said...

Again
Instead of punishing people who have more than you, what is wrong with providing an atmosphere that would create more wealthy people?

Paul Brinkley said...

Tank, I have another for your list:

6. People do not get equally lucky.

Now this is actually a point where the liberal view could get some traction - if my investment in something makes 500% return and yours makes 0% just because everyone happened to pick my brand of thing instead of yours, and *everything* else about it was equal - well, you could argue that that wasn't fair. And I'd agree. Of course, that still only justifies some sort of insurance scheme, and I'd probably want to buy it as much as you, because on the next round, you might be the one making the 500%.

And yes, there's turnover in them thar quintiles. People judge the top 20% by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (who really have been up there for decades), when the real list changes quite a bit over time. Meanwhile, a lot of the bottom 20% are there simply because they're new people in the work force, and are naturally starting at zero before they move up. It's very hard to track this statistically.

But it's easy to look at median, minimum, and maximum incomes. Jim is right; wealth distributes exponentially. It does so basically because interest on a loan is a multiplier, not an adder, and because whatever you get as a product of that multiplication in turn N gets to be your multiplicand in turn N+1. That's a *good* thing. There is no greater motivation for people to invest than this fact.

Someone tried to justify to me that this was a bad thing, because all these wealthy people were basically sitting on this wealth. As if trillions were being stuffed into mattresses, or were inexplicably put into bank accounts drawing 0% interest. While it's true that banks have reserve requirements, they do this by law (which the liberal argument does not want to see repealed), and it does not apply to investment banking. So all that wealth is really only getting parked when someone socks it into their savings or checking accounts, and even then only a fraction of it stops working. I've yet to hear the other side characterize how trillions of dollars in wealth manages to somehow just circulate among the wealthy, high above the heads of the poor, and yet continue to accrue. What could the 1% be buying from each other, that's truly replenishing this fast? Sunlight??

Paul Zrimsek said...

A good starting point for understanding what's wrong with the Mashable video would be to pause it at each assertion and ask yourself: Are they talking about wealth or income right here?-- then note how many times the answer changes back and forth. (The narrator's impersonation of Beavis and Butt-head's hippie teacher is pretty good, though.)

Scott Sumner has a good summary of the underlying paper: "All that study shows is that Americans aren’t very good at math. If every single American made an identical income at the same age, then wealth would still be more unequal than 32% in the top quintile." Be sure also to click through to Josh Barro's critique, where he catches the authors in a case of borderline academic fraud.

Revenant said...

Last time I looked six figures equals 100 thousand dollars a year or more

Six figures is $100,000 to $999,999.99. "More than six figures" is $1,000,000 or more. That's why people were harassing you for saying you make "more than six figures".

You and Althouse don't make "more than six figures". You make six figures, period.

roesch/voltaire said...

Closing tax loopholes for cooperations, and asking for slight increases taxes is not punishment. And increases in health costs are tied to many problems including the high cost in administration from the salaries of CEOs of insurance companies which drive up costs. And what the 1% spends in disposable income represents only a small amount of their total wealth and does not trickle down to the rest of us unless we happen to be the ones doing their yard work. The problem is that much of this wealth is based in finance-- movements of money directed by Hedge fund managers, and not so much in manufacturing, which would affect more of us.

Revenant said...

Rusty the Republic was far better off when there were higher taxes

When was this mythical time when "the republic was far better off"? Inquiring minds want to know.

Revenant said...

if my investment in something makes 500% return and yours makes 0% just because everyone happened to pick my brand of thing instead of yours, and *everything* else about it was equal - well, you could argue that that wasn't fair. And I'd agree

How is it not fair? If you put your money on #7 at the roulette table and it comes up #14 instead, is it in any way "unfair" that the guy who bet on 14 won?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Tomorrow on Rusty the Republic And His Friends, Mona the Monarchy and Dick the Dictatorship play a practical joke on Rusty-- but Rusty gets even!

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Closing tax loopholes for cooperations, and asking for slight increases taxes is not punishment

An opinion. Not a fact.

And increases in health costs are tied to many problems including the high cost in administration from the salaries of CEOs of insurance companies which drive up costs.

Again. An opinion not supported by facts.

And what the 1% spends in disposable income represents only a small amount of their total wealth and does not trickle down to the rest of us unless we happen to be the ones doing their yard work.

Do you honestly think they have a room in their house with stacks of money? That is what that statement comes across as.

The problem is that much of this wealth is based in finance-- movements of money directed by Hedge fund managers, and not so much in manufacturing, which would affect more of us.

Yes. They do. Even you try to minimize financial risk. That is what a hedge fund does. Those financial instruments keep money in circulation. They allow other businesses to borrow and invest.

There will always be people who have more than you.You haven't made your case as to why we should confiscate other peoples money.







chickelit said...

Maybe the new pope will fire up more Americans about inequality. Wouldn't that just frost some lefty's buttons!

Revenant said...

Come on, roesch -- when was "the republic better off" under "higher taxes"? I'd like a range of years that you think matches that statement.

William said...

Wealth is indeed something worth envying. I grew up poor and became financially independent sometime in my late forties. If you're not born with it, you're continually amazed at how many problems money can solve. It really is the E-Z button for life...But there are lots of other things worth envying. Athletic ability, sexual magnetism, robust health, a wife with a bizarre fetish for oral sex. All of these things help to make life pleasant and significant, and money doesn't buy them. I sometimes think that anger against the wealthy is just displaced anger at God for so inequitably distributing his blessings.

Paul Brinkley said...

Revenant: "How is it not fair? If you put your money on #7 at the roulette table and it comes up #14 instead, is it in any way "unfair" that the guy who bet on 14 won?"

...because stock investments are not supposed to be pure gambles, but rather a mechanism for encouraging corporate performance, and therefore an incentive for investors to choose their investments on the basis of which corporations do business in the most desirable way.

Again, this doesn't justify regulation from above. It does justify hedging one's investments. It could also justify some form of purchased insurance for the investor, to protect against an otherwise sound corporation going under because of unforeseeable risk (such as a key factory being wiped out by a natural disaster or a price spike from an unexpected market panic).

ampersand said...

Well I'm one American pissed off about the inequality.
Can anyone help me get on foodstamps,section 8,obamaphone,subsidized cable tv/internet,medicaid?

I only make 23 grand a year and still have to pay taxes!

I'm usually the only one at the grocers using my own money to pay for my food.

Colonel Angus said...

Come on, roesch -- when was "the republic better off" under "higher taxes"? I'd like a range of years that you think matches that statement.

That was back in the days following WW2 when we were basically the only industrial power to emerge unscathed from the war. Naturally we enjoyed unprecedented prosperity while the rest of the world was still digging out from the rubble. Coincidently this occurred at a time of higher taxes that the left so yearns to go back.

So maybe we devastate those rival industrial powers and reassert ourselves as the big manufacturer on the block and then jack those marginal rates back up to 75%.

Colonel Angus said...

Closing tax loopholes for cooperations, and asking for slight increases taxes is not punishment.

The problem with that is, every time there is a tax increase, the left insists it needs to be borne by the so called 1%. How much of the tax burden should be laid on what amounts to a small number of people?

And increases in health costs are tied to many problems including the high cost in administration from the salaries of CEOs of insurance companies which drive up costs.

Interestingly enough, I daresay the six figure salaries of 'educators' like yourself are directly tied to the high cost of getting a higher education. Doesn't it bother you in the least that your 'comfortable' salary is adding to the unsustainable debt carried by students?

And what the 1% spends in disposable income represents only a small amount of their total wealth and does not trickle down to the rest of us unless we happen to be the ones doing their yard work.

Typical leftist claptrap. Just for instance, I run a landscape business so that disposable income you sneer at is what runs by business, pays my employees, their benefits, my local, state and federal taxes and ultimately to me.

So yes, R/V, the disposable income of wealthy people does trickle into the economy by the very fact that they part with it. Unless you are one of those who think that wealthy people don't actually 'use' their money except to keep it in a locked vault where they go and look at it from time to time.

The problem is that much of this wealth is based in finance-- movements of money directed by Hedge fund managers, and not so much in manufacturing, which would affect more of us.

The problem is you are yearning for the good old industrial days where the USA was the post war industrial giant while the rest of the world was in ruins and we were about the only game in town. The newsflash is the rest of the world caught up and can make the same stuff just as good and cheaper and we failed to innovate. For a progressive, you certainly are thinking backward.

Sandi Denio said...

Equal men and women are not free. Free men and women are not equal.

Revenant said...

...because stock investments are not supposed to be pure gambles

Well, yes, but that wasn't the hypothetical. The hypothetical was one where "everyone happened to pick my brand of thing instead of yours". That implies two indistinguishable and equally-worth products in a market in which customers exhibit unpredictable mass preferences. That's gambling, not investment.

If the customers had reasons for their mass choice there wasn't any "luck" involved at all; one company correctly identified what customers would want, and the other did not.

Revenant said...

I'm still curious when RV's wonderful high-tax fairyland America existed.

It has to be earlier than the 80s, because the early 80s were the last time taxes on "the 1%" were higher than they are now.

But it has to be later than the 60s, because the time before that was one in which women and racial minorities had sharply limited economic opportunities. Although I guess we shouldn't rule out the possibility that RV means "white men had it good" when he refers to the good old days of high taxes; it IS usually white men wishing for a return to the post-war years. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that he actually cares about the well-being of women and non-whites, too. That rules out most of the 60s and the two centuries preceding them.

So that leaves... the 70s? That was our economic nirvana? Really? Admittedly I was a kid at the time, but I don't remember my (middle-class) parents being thrilled about their economic prospects at the time. Indeed, the most common middle-class complaint I hear today is that the economy is currently LIKE that of the 70s.

So again I wonder... when did this fairyland America exist?

MCD said...

Maybe people aren't upset about inequality because the last five years have been hard on just about everyone. Almost everyone I know (except for people with government jobs) has gone from feeling pretty cocky to very worried. The rich will always be with us, and nothing will touch them. But the high earners, the successful business owners, the parents of college students -- all of them -- are looking at the future and worrying.

John Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Lynch said...

What's happening now is a result of technological and social change that allow the smartest and most productive people ever-increasing rewards. We're becoming more efficient at using and rewarding talent. A few people matter more and more. Our education system is a highly refined system that plucks the smart and able out of any background and shuffles them into any number of elite careers.

There's no way to avoid this. Indeed, liberals love this when it suits their interest, as when blogs and columnists use the internet to distribute their ideas. As progressive as the content of the HuffPo may be, the implementation is pure 21st century inequality enabled by merit and technology.

The problem we all face is to ensure continued social mobility from below that doesn't depend on high-end brains and talent. Most people are average, and half are below average.

Upward mobility is made ever more difficult by social problems, like the collapse of family, rampant criminality, and ever more burdened public education systems that were never designed to provide government services to what are essentially refugees.

Without marriage, proper education, or a work ethic there is no possible route to equality for the lower classes. It can't be done, period, without a social revolution that ends mass illegitimacy and encourages work. Individuals can escape poverty now, but it's becoming ever more difficult as those at the top refuse to acknowledge the real problems faced at the bottom- lack of family, crime, and lack of viable education.

Poverty is social, not economic.

Paul Brinkley said...

Revenant: "Well, yes, but that wasn't the hypothetical. The hypothetical was one where "everyone happened to pick my brand of thing instead of yours". That implies two indistinguishable and equally-worth products in a market in which customers exhibit unpredictable mass preferences. That's gambling, not investment.

If the customers had reasons for their mass choice there wasn't any "luck" involved at all; one company correctly identified what customers would want, and the other did not."

I suspect we're in violent agreement here. The hypothetical was exactly what I said it was; I made it up on purpose to be the closest thing I could make to a justification for some sort of overhead regulation of a market. If you like, I could add in more hypotheticals like unknown factors that turn seemingly informed investments into what are effectively gambles, such as "you invested in brand X and had no reason to believe that brand Y would come along the next day and duplicate X's characteristics to a tee, and suddenly everyone turned to brand Y and you lost your shirt". Or any other situation where you only had enough ducats to commit to one situation and you did what anyone thought would be the Right Thing, but your dice roll came up snake eyes anyway.

Note, though, that I don't think any of this justifies regulation from above; it only justifies additional prudence from the investor, and/or some sort of insurance framework.

SGT Ted said...

Unless you are one of those who think that wealthy people don't actually 'use' their money except to keep it in a locked vault where they go and look at it from time to time.

The Neo-Commies seem to think the rich are like Scrooge McDuck, swimming in their giant vaults of hoarded gold and money.

And I am loving the sudden nostolgia that the "progressives" -Neo-Commies, really- are having for the 1950s and early 60s. Based on greed for other peoples money.

They want to go back to Jim Crow, apparently. That's what they say of conservatives that pine for the good old days, before the hippies.

Private citizen wanting to keep 75% of their own money = Greedy.

Government wanting 50-75% more of someones elses money to pay off their buddies and buy votes while continuing to overspend = Fairness!

Our problems start with Government greed driven by the Neo-Commies that say they are progressive.

Progressives need to get over their envy, greed and hatred of the wealthy.

TMink said...

Procrustes had a bed that fit everyone. He had a fix for inequality.

Trey