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.