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.
Our friend AVI noted the Gini coefficents in the US, by state. The Gini statistical method measures income "gaps" and is seen as a measure of economic inequality. And inequality is supposed to be bad, for no reason I can understand other than that it just sounds bad. "Gaps" sounds bad too.
It seems to me that if a state has lots of wealthy people, it's good for the state. But if a state has lots of rich people and lots of poor immigrants, it gets a bad grade. A solidly middle-class state like Utah (few very rich, few poor immigrants or "inner cities") gets a "good" grade because it is neither a magnet for immigrants nor a magnet for high-income industry.
In any event, all of the states in the US seem pretty close. The only one that bothers me is that Washington DC tops the "bad" list and it is obvious why that is. Government makes for a very wealthy industry in that factory town thanks to us taxpayers - and a large part of it is a ghetto.
Anyway, if government wants to "solve" these "gaps", the easiest way to do it is to drive the rich out of state. Problem solved, statistics fixed. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are trying hard to do that.
Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Wyoming are very welcoming of prosperous people and prosperous businesses.
"Income inequality" is based on the idea that equality is the primary moral good of a society. John Rawls bluntly put it that a more equal society is better than a less equal one even if the members of society prefer inequality, if they are better off personally. A society where everybody makes $50k per year is preferable to one where 90% make $100k per year and 10% make $500k. No joke, that's what serious people believe. As they say, you have to have a lot of education to believe such nonsense.
GINI coefficients are generally reported for European countries individually in order to demonize the US for inequality. But if they are reported for the EU as a whole, then inequality in Europe is very much greater than in the US.
The EU countries are also rather poor compared to the US. Germany would be tied for 38th place with Missouri in per capita GDP.
Anyone who thinks it's a problem that he makes a lot more money than the guy over on the wrong side of the tracks could always give 90% of his income to that guy. He doesn't even have to ask the government for permission or get the police involved. Strangely, that never happens. Mr. Charity always wants the other guy to pay.
The Barrister: Anyway, if government wants to "solve" these "gaps", the easiest way to do it is to drive the rich out of state. Problem solved, statistics fixed. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are trying hard to do that.
New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have lots of rich people. Florida, Texas, and South Carolina have high inequality, but generally lower incomes.
In any case, some inequality is necessary for the proper workings of markets, to provide the incentives necessary for people to work and to invest. On the other hand, too much inequality can also be detrimental to incentives due to social stratification and the resulting political instability.
That's right. Economic and political inequality was very high in the period before the French Revolution, and equality was one of the rallying cries of the revolutionaries; « Liberté, égalité, fraternité ! »
Britain had lower inequality, a strong middle class, and political power distributed through Parliament, so they avoided the same degree of political upheaval. Seeing the anarchy in France followed by Bonapartism compelled most Brits to cling to their existing social hierarchy as the best guarantee of their own personal liberty.
The US Gini Index is even more senseless than reported here. We are different than most other nations including Europe in that we don’t count much of what we provide to the poor. In US Gini & US Poverty calculations we use market income + cash benefits - taxes paid on incomes. Not included are benefits through the tax system (the EITC which is cash) nor benefits in kind (Medicaid, SNAP, Section 8 vouchers and many more).