We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The Atlantic has an article this month with the title “Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It).” I am always curious when intellectuals announce that the people (who in the American constitutional system serve as the sovereign power) don’t know what’s good for them (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) or don’t even know what they want.
Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.
The author of the Atlantic article, Dan Ariely—a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke—divided the American population into quintiles according to wealth. He then asked a representative sample of more than 5,000 Americans to guess how the country’s wealth was distributed amongst these quintiles.
He doesn’t say exactly how he determined the population’s wealth. Are the hundreds of billions of dollars in union and government pension funds that will fund the retirement of millions of blue-collar and government workers considered an asset of those workers? I’d guess not.
The goal posts keep changing. Most liberal apologists argue for the Gini coefficient, measuring "income inequality," while, in fact, just measuring income distribution. It says nothing about absolute income, just its distribution. It says nothing about consumption or government benefits, just earned income. The Ariely study is worse. Today, the richest (wealthiest, i.e., mist net assets) are the elderly, and the poorest are the college grads with college loans, no home, no good job, and no real future. What income they earn goes to the elderly, in Social Security. See http://www.learnliberty.org/content/are-poor-getting-poorer
And as personal incomes have tripled across he board in the past ten years, of course the income gap is larger, but household sizes have declined, distorting the real economic impact and liberals use the the 'income gap' as a basis for political rhetoric, envy and claimed entitlement rather than as something to aspire to reach.
John Steele Gordon: He doesn’t say exactly how he determined the population’s wealth. Are the hundreds of billions of dollars in union and government pension funds that will fund the retirement of millions of blue-collar and government workers considered an asset of those workers? I’d guess not.
You'd guess wrong (Wolff 2010). Now here's the irony:
John Steele Gordon: Intellectuals, especially in the social sciences, have a nasty habit of thinking that, 'This is the way the world should be, therefore this is the way the world can be.'
Then there are the escalating claims of SSI disability that pay for life. Not a lot mind you, but more than the retired couple make in interest on their $100,000 nest age.
And of course there is no way of measuring all the technological wonders at virtually eveyone's fingertips (home computers, say) because the wealthier among us supported and promoted the industry until the costs for manufacture and distribution became trivial.