Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Egalitarianism and how income equality hurts us all, rich and poor

We know that income inequality is growing dramatically in this country, and in many other countries as well. The thing I am learning now is that income inequality hurts us all, rich and poor. 
So what is the American Dream?  I know it involves hard work. I also know that it is different in many ways from the dreams of our ancestors. 

Have you listened to the two party conventions in the last week? Here are some quotes.  

Last night Michelle Obama said: 

"how hard you work matters more than how much you make…"

"helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself."

"... when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity…you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."

"We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself."

Last week Ann Romney said:

"It's all the little things that pile up to become big things. And the big things — the good jobs, the chance at college, that home you want to buy, just get harder. Everything has become harder."

"My dad would often remind my brothers and me how fortunate we were to grow up in a place like America. He wanted us to have every opportunity that came with life in this country — and so he pushed us to be our best and give our all."

"I've seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital."

"It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great? As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?"
They are saying almost the same thing. It made me start wondering and reading about egalitarianism, both of opportunity and of outcomes. (And isnt this is the fundamental difference in our two major party philosophies?) And wondering, should we have equality among people in opportunity? In outcomes? Or both? 
Here is the wiki on egalitarianism:

I recently saw a protest sign that said, "What about a maximum wage?" and thought, why not?

Reading today, I have learned this: income inequality hurts us all, rich and poor.
This is lifted from the above wiki article:

A study published in 2009 took into account data sets from major world economies and correlated them with inequality indices. The study found that the absolute wealth within a country had little effect on the citizens' well-being or social cohesion, and that income inequality correlated strongly with social problems such as homicide, infant mortality, obesity, teenage pregnancies, emotional depression and prison population.
For example, countries such as JapanFinland and Norway scored highly in social well-being and income equality, while countries such as the United States andUnited Kingdom scored low in both.[15]. However, these studies failed to account for the impact of ethnic and cultural diversity and third-world immigration in its impact on purported social well-being and income distribution.

Here is what I mostly want to share: here is a link to some graphs resulting from that study.  (It’s a pdf file, but read it on the web, enlarged, it prints out too small to read)

So what about equality in opportunity, like we used to have in America, and equality in outcomes, like some other places, like Norway have. Don’t get me started on Norway, that’s a whole ‘nother post.

This stuff fascinated me today, and I hope it has proven thought-provoking to you, too.

Rob Seward

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