When I talk to student groups about inequality, one of the first things I ask them to do is consider a mental experiment. Imagine a society in which, for example, the richest 20 percent of households earn an average of $60,000 per year and the poorest 20 percent of households earn an average of $10,000 per year.
With the next presidential election already looming, it's as certain as death and taxes that another round of hysterical demagoguery is upon us. Among the regurgitated bromides will be complaints about that tired socialist bogeyman of income inequality. Yet, when envy gives way to economic analysis, we find these grievances to be without merit.
Free people are not equal. When people are free to be themselves, to be masters of their own destinies, to apply themselves in an effort to improve their well-being and that of their families, the result in the marketplace will not be an equality of outcomes.
If there's something that progressives agree on, it's that inequality exists and that it's a problem. But what do we mean when we say "inequality"? Is it that some people have more "stuff" (money, goods, access to services) than others? Is it that some people are more skilled, more talented, better looking, or just plain luckier than others?
Pinker questioned many of the rationales for treating income inequality as the "defining challenge of our time" and concluded that "income inequality is not a fundamental component of well-being." Those who are concerned with income inequality should be aware of Pinker's arguments-and engage with them in a serious manner.
Cuba, with a Gini index of 0.38 and Liberia with 0.32 have much less inequality than the highly-developed Singapore and Hong Kong, with Gini coefficients of 0.45 and 0.53, respectively. Citizens in a poor country with low inequality are equitably poor.
Progress has been historically defined by a shrinking of the world through technology. As it shrinks we have more and more people capable of serving our myriad needs. Humankind's best and brightest have worked feverishly for centuries to enable more and more trade among individuals who don't happen to live next to each other.
Uber is a company under attack by politicians and the media. Many politicians, like Bill De Blasio, want to restrain its growth to protect incumbent cab companies. Others want to undermine its business model by requiring that its drivers using its devices be employees rather than independent contractors.
Income equality sounds like a good thing until you realize it means that everyone is equally poor. Income inequality means that if you enter the workforce with low skills and low income, you can move up the ladder to higher incomes as you improve and increase your skills.
In an article titled " Why People Vote Against Their Own Interests," Forbes, November 8, Bruce Lee, an Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, writes: Voting seems pretty straightforward, right? Choose what is good for you and avoid what is not.