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> Income and Wealth Disparity, what's the dealio?
Bikerdad
post Aug 21 2011, 08:11 AM
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A common issue raised by politicians seeking office and pundits is the subject of wealth and income disparity. The matter is already in play for this election cycle, with the President's "tax the rich" approach. Now, given that many politicians continue to return to this well, year after year, decade after decade, clearly it must carry some weight with some voters. So I have a simple question for debate:

What is wrong with increasing wealth disparity?
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Fife and Drum
post Nov 3 2011, 04:15 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Aug 22 2011, 02:57 PM) *
OECD-24 average: .65
Germany: .66
Canada: .69
U.K.: .70
France: .74
Sweden: .75
U.S.: .79
Switzerland: .80
Denmark: .81

I'd say we're in pretty good company.

Good company? So youíre a socialist?

Our cumulative wealth and its dispersal is a zero sum game: thereís only so much pie. When one slice gets larger the other slice gets smaller. Using Mrs. Pigpenís stats, 10% hold 70% of the wealth and itís trending in the 10%ís favor. So unless our fiscal policy prescribes that as the 10% increase their share of the pie we release new money or dictate asset creation into the system exclusively for the other 90% then history has shown guillotines would currently be a wise investment.

It may not happen in our lifetimes but if the trend continues the levee will break. It's already cracked.
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Ted
post Nov 3 2011, 05:11 PM
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QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 12:15 PM) *
QUOTE(akaCG @ Aug 22 2011, 02:57 PM) *
OECD-24 average: .65
Germany: .66
Canada: .69
U.K.: .70
France: .74
Sweden: .75
U.S.: .79
Switzerland: .80
Denmark: .81

I'd say we're in pretty good company.

Good company? So youíre a socialist?

Our cumulative wealth and its dispersal is a zero sum game: thereís only so much pie. When one slice gets larger the other slice gets smaller. Using Mrs. Pigpenís stats, 10% hold 70% of the wealth and itís trending in the 10%ís favor. So unless our fiscal policy prescribes that as the 10% increase their share of the pie we release new money or dictate asset creation into the system exclusively for the other 90% then history has shown guillotines would currently be a wise investment.

It may not happen in our lifetimes but if the trend continues the levee will break. It's already cracked.

So we have no growth in the economy? Are you kidding? When GDP grows we all benefit. and if you are lucky enough and work hard enough to be one of the instruments of that growth you may benefit more.....

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/Billing/An...nkButtonInChart

and the idea that there is some static group of rich and poor here has been debunked.
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akaCG
post Nov 3 2011, 05:14 PM
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QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 12:15 PM) *
QUOTE(akaCG @ Aug 22 2011, 02:57 PM) *

OECD-24 average: .65
Germany: .66
Canada: .69
U.K.: .70
France: .74
Sweden: .75
U.S.: .79
Switzerland: .80
Denmark: .81

I'd say we're in pretty good company.

Good company? So youíre a socialist?
...

Heh. Hardly.

That remark was meant to point out that, despite what a saddeningly large number of people bemoan as the cruel "dog eat dog"/"red in tooth and claw" dynamics of the U.S. economy, wealth inequality here is quite comfortably ensconced in the middle of a pack of countries that the very same people ever-so-eagerly point to as examples that the U.S. should emulate.

QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 12:15 PM) *
...
Our cumulative wealth and its dispersal is a zero sum game: ...
...

No, it isn't. The wealth "pie" isn't static. Never has been, never will be.

It is precisely this kind of static thinking that leads to "zero-sum" fallacies like "The rich get rich at the expense of the poor".

QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 12:15 PM) *
...
... thereís only so much pie. When one slice gets larger the other slice gets smaller. ...
...

Wrong again, for the same reason as above.

QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 12:15 PM) *
...
... Using Mrs. Pigpenís stats, 10% hold 70% of the wealth and itís trending in the 10%ís favor. So unless our fiscal policy prescribes that as the 10% increase their share of the pie we release new money or dictate asset creation into the system exclusively for the other 90% then history has shown guillotines would currently be a wise investment.

It may not happen in our lifetimes but if the trend continues the levee will break. It's already cracked.

When they start building guillotines in Sweden, I'll start worrying about it happening here.

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JohnfrmCleveland
post Nov 3 2011, 06:22 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Nov 3 2011, 01:14 PM) *
QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 12:15 PM) *
QUOTE(akaCG @ Aug 22 2011, 02:57 PM) *

OECD-24 average: .65
Germany: .66
Canada: .69
U.K.: .70
France: .74
Sweden: .75
U.S.: .79
Switzerland: .80
Denmark: .81

I'd say we're in pretty good company.

Good company? So youíre a socialist?
...

Heh. Hardly.

That remark was meant to point out that, despite what a saddeningly large number of people bemoan as the cruel "dog eat dog"/"red in tooth and claw" dynamics of the U.S. economy, wealth inequality here is quite comfortably ensconced in the middle of a pack of countries that the very same people ever-so-eagerly point to as examples that the U.S. should emulate.


Except every other country on that list besides the U.S. has some form of universal healthcare, paid for with tax dollars. The net effect is that despite those numbers, the poor in this country are missing a very large piece of what makes life liveable.

Once again, numbers don't tell the whole story.
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Hobbes
post Nov 3 2011, 06:57 PM
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QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 11:15 AM) *
Our cumulative wealth and its dispersal is a zero sum game: there‚‚ā¨‚ĄĘs only so much pie. When one slice gets larger the other slice gets smaller.


I would disagree with this. It is entirely possible for the pie to grow. That seems to be what has happened, in fact. The pie has grown, but most of that growth has gone towards the higher income group. Their slice got alot bigger while everyone else's only got a little bigger.


QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
Except every other country on that list besides the U.S. has some form of universal healthcare, paid for with tax dollars. The net effect is that despite those numbers, the poor in this country are missing a very large piece of what makes life liveable.


Not true. We also have universal health care. It is just not as efficient as it could be, which actually impacts the middle class, not the poor. Which is also who is affected in those other countries as well. UHC is paid for with taxes (or in our case higher health care costs), and the poor don't pay much in taxes anywhere.

This post has been edited by Hobbes: Nov 3 2011, 07:02 PM
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akaCG
post Nov 3 2011, 08:14 PM
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Here's a fascinating graph for those concerned about U.S. income/wealth inequality to ponder:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1Y25WlUbsXM/TqdJ...s-1994-2010.png

The source for said graph is http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/...-us-income.html, where we also find this (bolding mine):
QUOTE
...
Ivan Kitov has done an extended analysis of the U.S. Census' income data back to 1947. He found the following related to the personal income distribution (PID) for the U.S. since 1960 (emphasis ours):

In fact, the Gini curve associated with the fine PIDs is a constant near 0.51 between 1960 and 2005 despite a significant increase in the GPI/GDP ratio and the portion of people with income during this period (see Figure 1). This is a crucial observation because of the famous discussion on the increasing inequality in the USA as presented by the Gini coefficient for households (US CB, 2000). Obviously, the increasing G for households reflects some changes in their composition, i.e. social processes, but not economic processes as defined by distribution of personal incomes.

In short, it's those social processes, which have driven demographic changes within U.S. households, that are almost exclusively behind the observed increase in family and household income inequality observed in the U.S. since the 1960s.
...

I wish I had come across the above months ago. It would have provided yet more support for the arguments I was making back then, in the "Tax the Rich" thread:

http://www.americasdebate.com/forums/index...st&p=327198




QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 3 2011, 02:57 PM) *
...
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
Except every other country on that list besides the U.S. has some form of universal healthcare, paid for with tax dollars. The net effect is that despite those numbers, the poor in this country are missing a very large piece of what makes life liveable.

Not true. We also have universal health care. It is just not as efficient as it could be, which actually impacts the middle class, not the poor. Which is also who is affected in those other countries as well. UHC is paid for with taxes (or in our case higher health care costs), and the poor don't pay much in taxes anywhere.

And, more generally, when it comes to the poor in our country, ...:
QUOTE
...
... except for Norway and Switzerland, our poorest folks are about on par with those in other western countries, and this is WITHOUT the crushing burden of welfare state regulation and taxation. Further, the poor in the US are much more mobile than those in other country ó the ranks of our poor will have turned over much more than any of these other countries in 10 years. Finally, my bet is that if you did this chart without recent immigrants, the US poor would best most every country in Europe in terms of income ó US has a lot of immigration and it is disproportionately poor vs. immigration into other European countries (note that most poverty numbers include illegal immigrants, but most official immigration numbers do not include illegal immigrants).

So, if our poor are doing just as well, then I leave it as an exercise to give any rational reason why the fact that our rich are doing much better matters one damn bit.
...

More, with graphs, at: http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007...ty-aint-wh.html

This post has been edited by akaCG: Nov 3 2011, 08:39 PM
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Dingo
post Nov 3 2011, 10:28 PM
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The tortured attempt to discount growing income inequality seems weird and of course shows the degree to which ideology will capture you. Here wikipedia lays it out whether by gini index or otherwise the graphs and numbers are all there. The growth in income inequality has been huge. Of course there are many reasons and that is certainly worth discussion.

QUOTE
Between 1979 and 2005, the mean after-tax income for the top 1% increased by 176%, compared to an increase of 69% for the top quintile overall, 20% for the fourth quintile, 21% for the middle quintile, 17% for the second quintile and 6% for the bottom quintile.[23] For the same time span the aggregate share of after-tax income held by the top percentile increased from 7.5% to 14%.[23] The diminishing political clout of labor unions, resulting from declining union membership rates, and less government redistribution as well as decreased expenditure on social services are commonly cited as the main causes of this trend.[9] Economist Timothy Smeeding summed up the current trend of rising inequality on the pages of the Social Science Quarterly:[24]

Americans have the highest income inequality in the rich world and over the past 20Ė30 years Americans have also experienced the greatest increase in income inequality among rich nations. The more detailed the data we can use to observe this change, the more skewed the change appears to be... the majority of large gains are indeed at the top of the distribution.

While education and increased demand for skilled labor is often cited as a cause of increased inequality,[25] many social scientists, such as economists Paul Krugman and Timothy Smeeding and political scientists Larry Bartels and Nathan Kelly, point to public policy and partisan politics as an important cause of inequality. They point out that education, labor force, and demographic changes cannot be the sole cause of the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and that the U.S. is unique in having experienced such a rise in inequality Ė a trend that, if caused by education, labor force, and demographic factors, would have manifested itself in other developed nations.[24][26][27]

In addition, there is strong evidence that the party of the president and the ideological content of public policy have powerfully shaped the path of income inequality over time.
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JohnfrmCleveland
post Nov 4 2011, 02:02 AM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 3 2011, 02:57 PM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
Except every other country on that list besides the U.S. has some form of universal healthcare, paid for with tax dollars. The net effect is that despite those numbers, the poor in this country are missing a very large piece of what makes life liveable.


Not true. We also have universal health care. It is just not as efficient as it could be, which actually impacts the middle class, not the poor. Which is also who is affected in those other countries as well. UHC is paid for with taxes (or in our case higher health care costs), and the poor don't pay much in taxes anywhere.


Really, Hobbes... we're calling mandated ER care "universal health care" now? That's like saying the slaves got free room and board for their work.
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Hobbes
post Nov 4 2011, 03:12 AM
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QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland @ Nov 3 2011, 09:02 PM) *
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 3 2011, 02:57 PM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
Except every other country on that list besides the U.S. has some form of universal healthcare, paid for with tax dollars. The net effect is that despite those numbers, the poor in this country are missing a very large piece of what makes life liveable.


Not true. We also have universal health care. It is just not as efficient as it could be, which actually impacts the middle class, not the poor. Which is also who is affected in those other countries as well. UHC is paid for with taxes (or in our case higher health care costs), and the poor don't pay much in taxes anywhere.


Really, Hobbes... we're calling mandated ER care "universal health care" now? That's like saying the slaves got free room and board for their work.


Yes, for the purposes of this discussion, it is wholly and completely accurate. You neglected completely to address the reasons why I addressed---namely that it is not the poor that bear the costs, in either system, but the middle and upper class. ie....it works against your argument, not for it. Remember...one of the prime arguments used in favor of UHC here is that it would REDUCE overall health care costs...and those costs would be born by the taxpayers...hence, in both cases, health care works to reduce income disparity, not increase it. Your argument seems to be more one for quality of life disparity, which is not what is being discussed here at all

FWIW, even outside of this thread, this statement is still accurate. Unless you can indicate who is excluded from mandated ER care, it is universal, and it is health care, hence it is universal health care. As I said, not the best, nor the most efficient, but UHC nonetheless. Something that seems to be constantly forgotten when discussing the topic---which is most definitely not this topic, so the entire issue is pretty irrelevant here.

This post has been edited by Hobbes: Nov 4 2011, 03:30 AM
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JohnfrmCleveland
post Nov 4 2011, 05:03 AM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 3 2011, 11:12 PM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland @ Nov 3 2011, 09:02 PM) *
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 3 2011, 02:57 PM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
Except every other country on that list besides the U.S. has some form of universal healthcare, paid for with tax dollars. The net effect is that despite those numbers, the poor in this country are missing a very large piece of what makes life liveable.


Not true. We also have universal health care. It is just not as efficient as it could be, which actually impacts the middle class, not the poor. Which is also who is affected in those other countries as well. UHC is paid for with taxes (or in our case higher health care costs), and the poor don't pay much in taxes anywhere.


Really, Hobbes... we're calling mandated ER care "universal health care" now? That's like saying the slaves got free room and board for their work.


Yes, for the purposes of this discussion, it is wholly and completely accurate. You neglected completely to address the reasons why I addressed---namely that it is not the poor that bear the costs, in either system, but the middle and upper class. ie....it works against your argument, not for it. Remember...one of the prime arguments used in favor of UHC here is that it would REDUCE overall health care costs...and those costs would be born by the taxpayers...hence, in both cases, health care works to reduce income disparity, not increase it. Your argument seems to be more one for quality of life disparity, which is not what is being discussed here at all


The purpose of this discussion is income inequality, not who bears the costs of health care. This came up in the context of comparing the U.S. to Canada and Western Europe. akaCG tried to make the case that this OECD wealth inequality number proved that inequality in the U.S. is no worse than in these other places, therefore our poor are just as well off as the rest of them. I pointed out that the calculation didn't account for the fact that our poor don't have the benefit of universal health care (and don't even try to say that they do, because that's a ridiculous argument). If you were to put a dollar value on universal health care, the OECD numbers would be far different.

QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 3 2011, 11:12 PM) *
FWIW, even outside of this thread, this statement is still accurate. Unless you can indicate who is excluded from mandated ER care, it is universal, and it is health care, hence it is universal health care. As I said, not the best, nor the most efficient, but UHC nonetheless. Something that seems to be constantly forgotten when discussing the topic---which is most definitely not this topic, so the entire issue is pretty irrelevant here.


I can't indicate any slaves that were excluded from food and shelter, either, so... "Room and Board included!"

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Hobbes
post Nov 4 2011, 05:26 AM
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QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland @ Nov 4 2011, 12:03 AM) *
I can't indicate any slaves that were excluded from food and shelter, either, so... "Room and Board included!"


I never said it wasn't. What that has to do with this thread? I have no idea.

QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
The purpose of this discussion is income inequality, not who bears the costs of health care.
Which is precisely why, if you're going to bring up health care, who bears the costs of it is absolutely relevant.

This post has been edited by Hobbes: Nov 4 2011, 05:41 AM
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Bikerdad
post Nov 4 2011, 05:29 AM
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QUOTE(Dingo @ Nov 3 2011, 04:28 PM) *
The tortured attempt to discount growing income inequality seems weird and of course shows the degree to which ideology will capture you. Here wikipedia lays it out whether by gini index or otherwise the graphs and numbers are all there. The growth in income inequality has been huge. Of course there are many reasons and that is certainly worth discussion.


Income inequality does not matter. except to those driven by envy. What matters is consumption. And what matters even more is absolute consumption.
  • Do you have clean water to drink?
  • Do you have adequate food to eat?
  • Do you have shelter from the elements?
  • Do you have serviceable clothes?
  • Do you have the ability to get about to work, shopping, etc?

That's it. Everything else is gravy. And when we do things right, we make more gravy. We, as in collectively, i.e. all of us. That is a fact. Not ideology.

IF the pie doesn't grow, then how is it that by the standards of the list I give above, virtually every American alive today is richer than the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Tortured is the right word, it takes a tortured soul to make such a big deal out of something so meaningless.
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Dingo
post Nov 4 2011, 08:19 AM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 3 2011, 10:29 PM) *
virtually every American alive today is richer than the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

That's so ridiculous I don't know what to say. Those folks had quite adequate shelters, incomes and didn't have to worry about drive bys etc. etc. As I said the tortured world of ideology is in full review. The modern advances of science have been double edged and hardly offer a justification for your love affair with trickle down. Even Buffet and Gates get the destructive nature of extreme inequality.

Reflexive sycophancy toward money and power seems to be a conservative trait. Empires are built on it ph34r.gif
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JohnfrmCleveland
post Nov 4 2011, 02:01 PM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 4 2011, 01:26 AM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland @ Nov 4 2011, 12:03 AM) *
I can't indicate any slaves that were excluded from food and shelter, either, so... "Room and Board included!"


I never said it wasn't. What that has to do with this thread? I have no idea.


It goes to illustrate the ridiculousness of your assertion that, because of the ER rule, Americans, like their Canadian and European counterparts, enjoy "universal health care." All Americans have access to Band-Aids, too. "All Americans" = universal; Band-Aids = health care. But all Americans having access to Band-Aids certainly does not equal universal health care.

QUOTE(Hobbes @ Nov 4 2011, 01:26 AM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland)
The purpose of this discussion is income inequality, not who bears the costs of health care.
Which is precisely why, if you're going to bring up health care, who bears the costs of it is absolutely relevant.


My purpose in bringing up health care was to illustrate that simple measurements of income inequality don't tell the whole story. If, for instance, the government provided for Person A's health care, food and shelter, but Person B was responsible for buying his own health care, food and shelter, the fact that they might share an equal measurement of income inequality would mean very little. Also, as you point out, taxes and costs factor into the equation as well. Which is why the OECD numbers are next to useless in this context.

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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 4 2011, 01:29 AM) *
QUOTE(Dingo @ Nov 3 2011, 04:28 PM) *
The tortured attempt to discount growing income inequality seems weird and of course shows the degree to which ideology will capture you. Here wikipedia lays it out whether by gini index or otherwise the graphs and numbers are all there. The growth in income inequality has been huge. Of course there are many reasons and that is certainly worth discussion.


Income inequality does not matter. except to those driven by envy. What matters is consumption. And what matters even more is absolute consumption.


It's good to see that you understand the importance of consumption, BD. What's not so good is that you don't understand the importance of distribution to that equation.

When one person is saving more money than they will ever spend and other people wish they had money to spend, that means consumption is not maximized. Now, of course, not everybody is going to have all the money they could ever want, but nobody is pushing for that anyway. But money being distributed from the very rich to the very poor would undoubtedly increase consumption (since the poor need to spend that money to survive) - and increased consumption, as you astutely pointed out, is what matters to the economy.

QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 4 2011, 01:29 AM) *
IF the pie doesn't grow, then how is it that by the standards of the list I give above, virtually every American alive today is richer than the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Tortured is the right word, it takes a tortured soul to make such a big deal out of something so meaningless.


Look around, BD. Too many people are out of work, and too many people are just getting by, all while companies make plenty of profits. You can compare us to 18th-century subsistence farmers if you want to, but you're lying to yourself.
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akaCG
post Nov 4 2011, 02:18 PM
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QUOTE(Dingo @ Nov 3 2011, 06:28 PM) *
The tortured attempt to discount growing income inequality seems weird and of course shows the degree to which ideology will capture you. Here wikipedia lays it out whether by gini index or otherwise the graphs and numbers are all there. The growth in income inequality has been huge. Of course there are many reasons and that is certainly worth discussion.
QUOTE

...
In addition, there is strong evidence that the party of the president and the ideological content of public policy have powerfully shaped the path of income inequality over time.


And, interestingly, if one insists on looking at things in "on which President's watch" terms, it turns out that ...
QUOTE
...
... the biggest increase in income inequality over the past three decades took place when Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House.
...
... during Clinton's eight years, the wealthiest 5% of American households saw their incomes jump 45% vs. 26% under Reagan. The Gini index shot up 6.7% under Clinton, more than any other president since 1980.
...

Link: http://news.investors.com/Article.aspx?id=590383&p=1

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Dingo
post Nov 5 2011, 09:19 AM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Nov 4 2011, 07:18 AM) *
... the biggest increase in income inequality over the past three decades took place when Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House.
...
... during Clinton's eight years, the wealthiest 5% of American households saw their incomes jump 45% vs. 26% under Reagan. The Gini index shot up 6.7% under Clinton, more than any other pres

No doubt you've said something meaningful here but I don't know what it is. Is this simply one more nonsubstantive contextless cherry pick to prove republicans are better or something?
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akaCG
post Dec 8 2013, 07:03 PM
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Posted in the wrong thread.

This post has been edited by akaCG: Dec 8 2013, 07:03 PM
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Hobbes
post Dec 9 2013, 12:01 AM
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QUOTE(Fife and Drum @ Nov 3 2011, 10:15 AM) *
Our cumulative wealth and its dispersal is a zero sum game: thereís only so much pie. When one slice gets larger the other slice gets smaller.


Completely incorrect. There is NOT only so much pie, and it is entirely possible for all the pieces to grow. Quite often income disparity increases during periods of economic growth. As companies get more money, they have more money to give to workers. Both pieces get bigger. Although the piece for the owners gets bigger more than the piece for the workers. that is also normal---they are the ones who made all the risks and invested all the money. They are also by far the biggest losers in a down economy--most of the workers continue working, whereas most of the companies lose money. How many workers work for negative money? Not many. Ownership enhances the degree, both upwards and downwards.

One of the main (only?) reasons you see wealth disparity increasing is because of the explosion in technology (Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc). You do NOT want to see that go away, as that would mean that we've become technology laggards, and that would mean a smaller pie for everyone. These companies are also good examples of why this statistic is very misleading. How many millionaires did Microsoft create? Probably not true lately, as its stock price has lagged, but there was a period of time where EVERY employee who had worked there for at least five years was a millionaire. Yes, Bill Gates became a multi billionaire in that time frame, but how would we be better off if MSFT wasn't successful? High income is a sign of success.

The flip side of this technology explosion is globalization. That is what is driving down worker incomes. You don't fight that by castigating those who have adapted and become successful because of it---you encourage others to do the same, and you take steps to adapt your economy to the new reality. Fixing it through income redistribution is a very short sighted, naive approach, which will lead to economic stagnation or degradation, and that problem doesn't really have a levee--it is just a big flood that will destroy everything, leaving others to pick up the pieces.
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