Saturday, January 26, 2008

Distribution of wealth vs. wealth

I was having another boring argument with authoro-libertarians over on Unqualifed Reservations, this time about liberty vs. equality. They think equality is just wrong, and prefer liberty, as long as it doesn't apply to Jews, blacks, or lower castes. Or something like that, I don't really care, except I'm still fascinated by this phenomenon of people who spout libertarian rhetoric while simultaneously promoting authoritarian values. Then there's Ron Paul, where libertarianism is a cover for racism and paranoid nationalism. I find this predictable and regrettable, since it means there is no hope for a coalition between the libertarian left and right -- the underlying core values are just too different.

Anyway, tired of arguing over stale concepts, I went and looked for some actual data and found an interesting graph that shows a correlation between equality and higher GDP. It actually shows that except for the United States, that perpetual outlier, countries with a high GDP live in a fairly narrow band of wealth equity. Below that level you find countries with wider disparities of wealth, such as the kleptocracies of Africa and South America.

What does this prove? Not much, since correlation is not causality. It doesn't prove that making people more equal will make them all richer. Maybe well-run economies promote wealth compression by elevating the condition of the lower classes.

The one thing it does clearly show is that the US is different from all other industrialized economies in having a drastically skewed distribution of wealth. But it's not skewed enough for the authoritarians, who see any attempt to raise the conditions of the lower tiers of society as a threat to their (apparently extremely fragile) sense of superiority.


goatchowder said...

I find no contradiction at all in people who support libertarianism and authoritarianism. The former leads inexorably to the latter.

The Law of the Jungle is that the biggest, cruelest, most selfish, most ruthless, most vicious gorilla becomes absolute ruler and tyrannizes everyone... until another more vicious and more ruthless gorilla comes along and kills him. Of course.

That's a "free market" in a nutshell. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, pure competition unfettered by any regulation. Exactly the perfect environment in which to breed an absolute dictator, "cornering the market" on... everything and everyone.

mnuez said...

Exactly right Goatchowder. Your average Libertarian is no genius. He's liable to be slightly smarter than the average American (which is what leads him in search of some philosophy any philosophy that's just under the radar of consensus) but his intelligence does not extend to anything far ahead of the platitudes of "freedom!" and "choice!" (which ought, in intelligence, to be followed by "woohoo!"). The fact that their hated, most-evil, "Government" is actually the result of "Free Markets" escapes him. Heck, he can't even see that in Democratic Government, never mind in Saddam's (where it's just as true).

Adam Smith's vision included always-available competition. He wouldn't look kindly on the Walmarts of the world (which are, in every practical sense, monopolies), but our "Libertarian" (Anarcho-Capitalists really) Rebel friends don't understand this. Acquired or inherited power in the hands of any individual is only viewed as evil when that individual was actually elected. The fact that their freedoms are persistently attacked by the Moneyed - as much as by their hated "government" - is never understood.

Alas, and these Anarcho-Capitalists are, as individuals, the smartest free-thinkers our country has. We, whose understanding extends beyond theirs, are but scattered atoms.


P.S. Mtraven, see UR's "bogus history" comment thread where I kinna suck your dick. I'm not used to such activities but I felt that you deserved it.

mtraven said...

Mtraven, see UR's "bogus history" comment thread where I kinna suck your dick. I'm not used to such activities but I felt that you deserved it.
Uh, me neither...but thanks!

Anonymous said...

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for all of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductable crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductable contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. WAKE UP PEOPLE. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Vioxx. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of which concentrate the world’s wealth and resources and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘ good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTABLE PR CRAP. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.