Is Inequality a Political Choice?

Yves here. Both economists and the press do such a good job of selling the idea that inequality is the fault of those who come out on the short end of the stick that academics need to develop empirical evidence to prove what ought to be intuitively obvious.

Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

The fact that most of the fruits of US economic growth have not been shared with the lower-middle and working class is accepted across the political spectrum in America. But that inequality is often treated as a somehow inevitable consequence of globalization and technological change. That view is contradicted by the comparison of income growth and distribution statistics between the US and three others rich countries, France, Norway and the UK — according to new research by Max Roser and Stefan Thewissen of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford. Writing in Vox on the database they’ve constructed, Roser and Thewissen note:

“We compare the evolution of the income an individual needs to be right at the 10th percentile of the income distribution to the evolution of the income of an individual at the 90th percentile. We call these two groups the ‘poor’ and the ‘rich.’ We can then look at how much incomes grew for the poor and the rich in absolute terms as well as relative to each other — and thereby assess the extent to which growth was widely shared. We measure income after taxes and transfers, and adjust for differences in prices over time and across countries using inflation and purchasing power information. Our database can be accessed online, with more information on our exact measure and data for other countries.”

The US performs poorly by comparison to these countries, for reasons that may have more to do with structure, institutions and policy. Roser and Thewissen conclude:

“The differences we have identified across countries and time imply that increased globalization and technological change cannot be blamed as sole causes for rising inequality. Those forces work across borders and should affect all countries. The fact that other developed countries have been able to share the benefits of these market forces suggests that policy choices on the national level play a central role for boosting living standards. Policies can make a difference not just in growth levels, but also in who gets the benefits of that growth.”

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  1. Disturbed Voter

    The intuitively obvious, should be taken as axiomatic. Like two points determine a single line. When you start out from an unequal position (not like at the start of a foot race) … it is unclear who to blame, for the one person who crosses the finish line first vs the losers. And much of life is “first across the finish line”. Also since in this case, the winner of the last race, gets an advantage on the next starting line … the unequal advantage tends to accumulate. Life is unfair. The point is to maintain the status quo, statically and dynamically. Those who have advantages today, continue to have them, as white collar US workers and even blue collar US workers used to. The previous winners continue to win these unequal contests, but the number of happy workers gets fewer and fewer. This is why Trump voters … the benefits of inequality are now being shared less equally ;-) The purpose of government is to benefit the status quo. Therefore policy doesn’t offer substantive way out. Change will occur … but only when the current status quo maintenance system fails. Conclusion: like the game of Musical Chairs … there is no change until the music stops, and someone different can’t find a chair to sit in. But it is less fun in real life.

    1. Moneta

      Funny how kids’ games are there to show how luck works in life and how people work around it, yet many never seem to see the link.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        Unfortunately many in the current generation are content to play the little pig, in Charlotte’s Web. They forget where McDonald’s McRib comes from. Again, children’s culture is illustrative and simplified.

        1. MP

          I wouldn’t underestimate “many in the current generation” – especially among those who don’t have the “divided baggage” of the generations that preceded them. Due to purposely recirculated historical circumstances aligned with modern “evolution,” it may not be as easy for power to continue to “manipulate and control.”

          1. Kris Alman

            Speaking of generations…
            In 2010, Steve Bannon directed and wrote this film: Generation Zero

            You can watch the full length movie here:

            In this fear-mongering film, conservatives like Gingrich put a spin on the power of the “elite” destroying the middle class in a revisionist approach (although they are quick to point out that both parties are captured by global corporations). The future: austerity, deregulation and 20 years of chaos (with probable war) ahead of us.

            The film revolves around the Strauss-Howe generational theory.
            Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to President Trump is a prominent proponent of the theory. As a documentary filmmaker Bannon discussed the details of Strauss-Howe generational theory in Generation Zero. According to historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film, Generation Zero “focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or ‘fourth turning’, that destroyed an old order and created a new one”. Kaiser said Bannon “is very familiar with Strauss and Howe’s theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while.” A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon’s obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome commented “Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the ‘Fourth Turning’.”

            David Kaiser has distanced himself from Bannon’s extreme views.

            When I was first exposed to Strauss and Howe I began thinking how their ideas explained the histories of other countries as well, and during our interview, I mentioned that crises in countries like France in the 1790s and Russia after 1917 had led to reigns of terror. Bannon included those remarks in the final cut of Generation Zero.
            A second, more alarming, interaction did not show up in the film. Bannon had clearly thought a long time both about the domestic potential and the foreign policy implications of Strauss and Howe. More than once during our interview, he pointed out that each of the three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect.
            I did not agree, and said so. But, knowing that the history of international conflict was my own specialty, he repeatedly pressed me to say we could expect a conflict at least as big as the Second World War in the near or medium term. I refused.
            Apocalyptic rhetoric and apocalyptic thinking flourish during crisis periods. This represents perhaps the biggest danger of the Trump presidency, and one that will bear watching from all concerned citizens in the months and years ahead.

            That’s why we should all be concerned about Bannon being added to the National Security Council.

            Bannon’s Islamaphobia portends a ‘global war’ between ‘the Judeo-Christian west’ and ‘jihadist Islamic fascism.’

            1. MP

              Thanks for the information. I’m aware of the madman’s “movie” and his authoritarian ideology. He and his commander-of-thieves will continue to unravel right before our eyes. Many lives will continue to be severely impacted by these hateful, selfish, abusive throwbacks from “central casting.”

            2. KM

              Strauss and Howe could have pointed out that our 80 year cycle of wars alternates civil and foreign wars. So 1941 was a foreign war, 1861 a civil war, 1776 foreign (colonists against Britain), glorious 1688 civil (arguable).

              Therefore our next war (2020) is most likely to be a civil war.

              1. MP

                HIS-story, as it has been sold…I mean told…will not be repeated in the same manner – especially with these “directors” in charge of the script. The agents of change continue to provide the evidence.

    2. DWD

      The Race

      Every day there is a race you have to run. For the sake of discussion, let’s call it a 100 yard race.

      The participants are called and then evaluated by the judges. Starting points for the race are then determined. If you are particularly comely, you are given an advantage: that is, your starting point is moved up depending on the judges. If you have a personality that people find attractive, you are given further yards. If you happen to have had great success in school, you are awarded so many yards because of your academic record. If you happen to be good looking and personable, the academic success yards are added onto your already determined starting point.

      Then the quality and reputation of your educational institution is evaluated and you are given further yards to determine starting points with certain schools worth a better starting position. And even the type of training at the institution is evaluated and further yards given.

      Finally the judges add your total experiences – including your finishing position in previous races – advanced degrees, and connections and further yards are added.

      So when the gun sounds, the person without the advantages strives as hard as they can but they cannot win the race because some people only have to simply step over the finish line.

      And even more troubling some people are moved behind the starting line because they could not even muster the necessary accomplishments to reach the starting line: drop outs from school, people who have been convicted of crimes and the rest. The worse the offense, the further you are moved behind the starting line.

      Every day this continues and those striving to win – even running faster and harder than their competitors – are simply unable to do so because the rules are such that winning is not even a consideration when the race is rigged.

      1. Jazz Paw

        The factors are certainly at work in inequality. Some of those factors can either be mitigated or compensated for by the individual and/or the social system.

        There are other structural factors that influence inequality. Family connections, inherited wealth, and other forms of social capital that can make advancement easier is one. Savings and investment patterns that can be engaged in to varying degrees depending on just how much surplus income one has is another.

        The social and political system in the US generally favors vigorous competition, private self-dealing, and asymmetric information. Individuals who learn to navigate these factors can prosper, while those who either can’t or don’t want to can suffer significant disadvantages in outcomes. The influence of these structural factors in any social system influences the degree of income/wealth stratification.

        In my own family, many of the starting social factors are fairly equal among the individuals. Even though my various relatives have not necessarily made “bad” choices in the moral sense, their outcomes have been vastly different. The degree to which they have chosen to engagein income/wealth maximization has generally been a large factor. In that sense, the game is rigged away from living what many consider a humane life.

  2. David

    You mean people actually got paid to research and write stuff like this? You simply have to look at the (re)distribution policies of the countries concerned – and there are substantial differences between the three of them, by the way.
    Wouldn’t a much more interesting question be “By what mechanism does globalization necessarily increase inequality, and how does it work precisely in a number of contrasted cases”? But then you might get the wrong answer.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      No kidding – kind of amazing that people get paid good money to restate the obvious, but using sesquipedalian language just to make it more difficult to understand.

      Inequality is caused by one group not having as much money as another. Money is simply a tool created by human beings. Much like a hammer, human beings could use it to build houses for everyone or to bash others about the head. We humans seem to prefer the latter use.

    2. Grebo

      The people paid to prove the obvious are far outnumbered by those paid to disprove it. We need the former because of the latter.
      On the other hand, there are many cases where the obvious turned out to be wrong when it was looked at carefully. More research needed!

    3. Knute Rife

      We’re in a world where politicians get paid to lie about these obvious things and legislate based on those lies, and businesses make their profits off the lies, so I can’t get too exercised when someone gets paid to point out the lies.

  3. funemployed

    “Forces.” Really? “Globalization” and “technological change” are things humans do for human reasons. To treat them as “forces” somehow exogenous to human choices is self-evidently fallacious. It’s precisely the same logic that says the King is the King cause God likes him best.

    They’re not “forces.” They are heuristics. And as heuristics, they are pretty lousy unless you parse them quite a bit. Obama’s 1 trillion dollar investment in nukes creates “technological change.” The destruction of local agricultural techniques and knowledge is “technological change.” A kindle is “technological change.” Keyword searches readily available to academic researchers was a big “technological change.”

    I’m assuming what they mean by “technological change” here is the sort that allows us to collectively make more stuff with less work. God forbid anyone spell that out though. Because “hey, guess what: you have to work more for less because we can now make more stuff with less work,” would quickly lead to the violent demise of economists and rich people. (more to say on “globalization” but this post is already way longer than intended.)

  4. Sound of the Suburbs

    Redistributive Keynesian capitalism produces the lowest levels of inequality within the developed world from the 1950s to the 1970s.

    1980s – Let’s get rid of redistributive Keynesian capitalism.

    Inequality soars.

    What was supposed to happen?

  5. Pelham

    Germany should have been included in the study. German manufacturing is far more technologically advanced than manufacturing in the US, yet Germany manages to maintain high employment in that sector, probably because the companies invest in worker training and feel some obligation toward labor.

    There’s a structural reason for this, with labor having powerful representation on German corporate boards and smaller companies being owned by families instead of faceless shareholders, with the families’ long-term interests naturally more in alignment with those of their employees.

    1. David

      Actually, I thought the inclusion of France and the UK was a bit strange, as well. Inequality in both countries has been increasingly massively in recent years. One Thomas Piketty even wrote something on the topic, if I’m not mistaken. Japan would have been a much better example.

      1. jrs

        I think it kind of makes the point, if even a country that isn’t exactly known for egalitarianism, like the UK, is doing better than the U.S. it kind of shows how extreme on the scale the U.S. is.

    2. Barni

      Contrary to elite owned and serving mass media claims, the trick that created the German economic miracle is no mystery; it was, and IS, their banking system.
      In Germany more than 70% of all banking is done by “municipally owned banks”!!!
      A situation that the elites – masters of the universe -have been working day and night to drastically alter so that their “too big to fail” minion zombie banks can take complete AND total control of the economy, as they have in most of the developed world except North Dakota, Canada (Canada owns the Bank of Canada – the Finance Minister holds all the shares on behalf of all Canadians), and Switzerland (Switzerland has Cantonal {municipally or provincially} owned banks) – all three countries, like the German municipally owned banks, are under attack by the elite serving bureaucrats in the IMF and the U.S. Federal Reserve; all of whom are owned by, and minions of, Wall Street; and most importantly the corporate bought and sold world’s university economics departments – co-opted to right agenda faux economic B.S.
      The U.S. Federal Reserve now donates more money to universities worldwide than all of the rest of the donors combined!?! The proviso on these donations is that they only hire economics profs who have been published in one of the 37 journals published by the U.S. Federal Reserve – and we know what kind of right agenda ‘fascist’ mumbo-jumbo these minion economists are dedicated to serving up in order to get published by the U.S. Fed!!!
      So what you say!! Well here’s so what!
      If you are in any other developed country than Germany and you have a great idea/product and require a one million dollar loan to build a factory and set up production – here’s what happens to you. Your local banks will never lend you that money, so you have to go to the criminal Big Banks which will also never lend you the money you need, which means you will have to sell your idea/product at pennies on the dollar to one of their huge corporate clients, who will offshore production to a corrupted third world country where workers get paid pennies an hour and unions are considered a criminal enterprise. Leaving you, the creator of the product or service with pennies on the dollar; and leaving your local economy with zero economic growth and no well paid local employment opportunities. The corporate buyer of your technology/product/idea may well just kill your product because it is better than the (inferior) one they are currently making bags of money selling – for which they have just eliminated your innovative and superior competitive product.
      If you are in Germany however the story is far different. In Germany you would go to your local municipally owned bank which is only too happy to give you the one million dollars you need to set up production (locally providing employment and contributing to local economic prosperity).
      This is the basis for the strength of the German economy and the reason for the so called “:German economic miracle?”!
      It is described as a “miracle” not because we have no idea how it happened, rather because the elites who own more than 80% of all corporate shares need to confuse us plebs they want to economically and politically crush!

  6. Sluggeaux

    American wealth inequality is a political problem? Well, no sh*t, Sherlock.

    Kevin Phillips wrote about this phenomenon a decade ago in his wonderful book Wealth and Democracy. Between 1920 and 1980, American plutocrats had been placed in fear by the Bolshevik revolution, humbled by the Great Depression, and shamed by the Second World War. Greed was in check. Then they died-off and left their wealth to a new generation more interested in emulating Mick Jagger than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ronnie Reagan was their Hollywood pal, who cut estate and coupon-clipping taxes so that they could party like rock stars.

    Crass punks like Donald Trump and the Kochs are the scions of inherited wealth and Studio 54. They could never have made it on their own, on their own talents, and it is in their class interest to destroy any sort of meritocracy. They have used materialism and greed to buy the political class.

  7. Advance

    Look up Geert Hofstede’s work on “power distance,” which is the extent to which a nation accepts inequality.

    According to Hofstede, countries have different “tastes” or preferences for inequality. For example, the Middle East, parts of S America, India, and other parts of Asia have a much bigger “taste” for inequality compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries, which have the lowest.

    I would guess that differences in preferences for inequality between countries go back to a nation’s history, and maybe other hard-to-pin down forces and factors.

    The US, according to Hofstede’s work, is at the middle point, or a little lower, as to taste for inequality. However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences. In other words, we may be getting more inequality than we like.

    By the way, Hofstede assumes that power distance preference is a fairly durable characteristic of a nation.

    1. UserFriendly

      Preference?? Yes, I’m sure the mid east loves inequality, which is why they are known for choosing dictators who quash uprisings as their leaders. And how exactly would I choose egalitarianism here in the US? I can vote for Wall Street and Holly Wood or Wall Street and Exxon Mobil. Which one is the egalitarian one?

    2. Ignacio

      However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences.

      What about “power distance” (extent to which a nation accepts inequality) interactions with “distance to power” extent to which a nation influences the powerful.

  8. Bernard

    “To serve Humans.” The cookbook from ” the Outer Limits/Twilight Zone” TV series had aliens come to “devour” humans. such a farce!! lol

    when the reality all along has been that’s it the Rich who wrote the “Cookbook”. Bernay’s sauce, once again.

    who would have thunk it! Inequality is the major ingredient.

  9. Anonymous

    I’ve been reading Robert J. Gordon’s book, ‘The Rise and Fall of American Growth.’ Gordon would say that American labor did well from 1870-1970 because of the innovations that drove the economy increased everyone’s productivity and the value of their work. Since 1970, productivity has slowed down. It rose again during the decade of the ’90s but mostly for knowledge workers, thanks to the internet, spreadsheets, etcetera, but now has continued to slow. That was a recipe for income inequality, and for wealth inequality as well, since the rise of digital industries has increased property values on the coasts and in select inland cities.

    Slowing productivity also increased wealth inequality by facilitating the decline of interest rates. This helps the haves, since their assets are suddenly more valuable.

  10. UserFriendly

    Of course inequality is a political choice. Chosen by the oligarchs who buy the politicians.

    Just like every mainstream economist is choosing to make millions suffer and die every day because excepting MMT would bruise their ego’s. That is a choice too.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      There’s $34 *trillion* sitting untaxed offshore. Untold hundreds of billions in tax evasion by corporations from Google to Lockheed, Italy just got a payment from Google for 400M euros (that’s one country’s redress with one company). Of course this is a political choice.
      Good thing Hilary pushed through the Panama Free Trade agreement, so all the US industries clamoring to sell things to the people of Panama could be accommodated (/sarc). I’m sure she harvested some serious coin for that, payable in Davos or Martha’s Vineyard or Hollywood

  11. Ignacio

    I think that inequality is not a political choice directly but a consequence of deregulation or “do nothing” policy. Reducing inequality is a policy choice.

    1. Gman


      It is, in essence, an insidious, cynical bottom to top wealth transfer to societies’ detriment as a whole.

      Nothing more than a self-serving, self interested opportunistic choice, usually most easily implemented and cemented in periods of uncertainty by those best placed to do so.

      Flattered, at least in the short-term, by immediate tangible results, and all conducted mainly unopposed by naïve, trusting electorates, under the guise of economic and political competence, necessity and propriety.

  12. marblex

    To quote the very astute Batman11 from ZH:

    ??? ??? ?????????, ??? ??????? ??? ????? ?????? ?????, ?? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?????, ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??? ??????? ?? ???????.” ???? ?????, ??? ?????? ?? ???????

    ??????? ????? ??????? ?? ??????? ? ??????? ???? ????? ???????????.

    ?? ????’? ???? ?????? ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ?????, ??? ??? ??? ??? ?????, ?? ??????? ??? ?????? ??????? ?? ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ??????? ???????.

    They soon made the most of the opportunity and removed themselves from any hard work to concentrate on “spiritual matters”, i.e. any hocus-pocus they could come up with to elevate them from the masses, e.g. rituals, fertility rights, offering to the gods …. etc and to turn the initially small tributes, into extracting all the surplus created by the hard work of the rest.

    The elites became the representatives of the gods
    and they were responsible for the bounty of the earth and the harvests. As long as all the surplus was handed over, all would be well.
    Later they came up with money.

    We pay you to do the work and you give it back to us when you buy things, you live a bare subsistence existence and we take the rest.

    “????? ?? ? ??? ???? ?? ???????, ??? ??????????????? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ?? ?? ?????????? – ???? ????? ?? ?? ????? ???????? ??????? ?????? ??? ?????.” ??? ???????

    ??? ??????? ???????? ????? ??? ???????? ???????????? ??????????? ??? ???? ????????? ?? ??? ?????.

    A bare subsistence existence ensured the workers didn’t die and could reproduce, why give them anymore? The vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

    Basic capitalism was how it all started in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the poor lived in squalor and the rich lived in luxury, the same as it had always been.

    Only organised labour movements got those at the bottom a larger slice of the pie, basic capitalism gives nothing to the people who do the work apart from a bare subsistence existence.

    The wealthy decided they needed to do away with organised labour movements and the welfare state; it was interfering with the natural order where they extract all the surplus.

    2017 – World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

    Nearly there.

    They need a bit more fine tuning at Davos.

    Some of the world’s workers are not living a bare subsistence existence.

    ? ???? ??????????? ????????? ??????? ??? ??????? ???’? ??? ??? ??? ?????????, ??? ???? ???? ???????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??? ??????? ?? ???????, ????????? ????? ?? ???-??????????.

    ????? ??????????, ???????? ?? ? ??????? ????? ??? ????????? ?????? ?????????, ???? ? ?????? ????????? ???????? ?? ?????? ?????? ?? ?????? ??????? ????? ???? ?? ??? ???????.

    ???????, ??’? ????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ????.

    ??? ???????????? ?????? ?????, ??? ??? ???? ???????

    ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ????.

    Francis Fukuyama talked of the “end of history” and “liberal democracy”.

    Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.

    Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.

    Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

    Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn’t work.

    The ideas of “Economic Liberalism” came from Milton Freidman and the University of Chicago. It was so radical they first tried it in a military dictatorship in Chile, it wouldn’t be compatible with democracy. It took death squads, torture and terror to keep it in place, there was an ethnic cleansing of anyone who still showed signs of any left wing thinking.

    It was tried in a few other places in South America using similar techniques. It then did succeed in a democracy but only by tricking the people into thinking they were voting for something else, severe oppression was needed when they found out what they were getting.

    It brings extreme inequality and widespread poverty everywhere it’s tested, they decide it’s a system that should be rolled out globally. It’s just what they are looking for.

    ???? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???????.

    ???? – “?? ??????? ?????? ?? ??????? ?? ??????? ???? ?? ??? ?????”

    ???? – “??????? ?? ?????? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ?? ?????’? ??????????”

    ???? – ?????’? ????? ??????? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ??????? ??%

    ??? ?????? ????? ??? ??????????? ?? ??????? ????? ????? ??? ?????????.

    ???? ???? ????? ????????? ??? ?? ???????? ??????

    ????? ?????’? “????? ????????” ?????? ???? ???????? ?? ??? ??? ?????????.”
    Post by Batman11@ZH

  13. Mitch Ritter

    Would a for-profit chain of local newspapers whose business model and advertising is built on serving the Portland Business Alliance and Chamber of Commerce interests hire or keep on staff any kind of investigative journalistic team or even an individual columnist\calumnist like recently deceased VILLAGE VOICE early 1980’s TRUMP SWAMP WHISTLE-BLOWER WAYNE BARRET (RIP)?

    What socio-econ OUTCOMES have resulted in even PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP‘s outsourcing to a non-profit InvestigateWest journalistic venture and beginning a series that seems historic in these parts as the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS series by dead investigative journalist GARY WEBB in the years after Iran-Contra Scandal to uncover the bid-net of BUSINESS and that was shortly thereafter taken down off the web under pressure by the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS.

    Here’s our story, for this twice-a-week Business Serving newspaper group anyway. Get yer Huzzahs in fast before all trace of the findings of this Moonlighting Civil Servant who got the docs via PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST SEARCHES on her own dime and has embarrased the 1-Party so-called PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATIC BLUE PARTY MACHINE in OREGON beginning with ORACLE LLC Lawsuit-Surrendering ATTORNEY GENERAL Ellen Rosenblum and up to the Governor Kate Brown neither of whom in long careers in State Government in jobs tasked with auditing ever reviewed these findings:

    Keep on doing,
    Punching way above your weight PAMPLIN PAPERS
    making a mockery of outside money-owned OREGONIAN
    and the so-called alternative weeklies who only make news hole
    available for Lifestyle features on the new Wellness Spa, Tattoo Parlor or Booze\Gourmet venture…

    Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters
    Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
    Media Discussion Group

    1. Freda Miller

      Thanks for the links, Mitch. For an economically disadvantaged group to be assessed so much more in penalties for minor infractions makes inequality even worse.

  14. Gman

    ‘Poor people are poor because they don’t have enough money. Half of contemporary policy debate is an attempt to evade this obvious point’

    – UnlearningEconomics.

    Enough said.

  15. Gman

    In one form or another the deliberate sourcing of, or a ready supply of ever cheaper labour is one of the keys to greater efficiencies and profits for producers and shareholders, albeit at the inevitable cost of widening inequality within most developed societies.

    Societies whereby a likely acquiescent majority is slowly but surely forced to accept a Faustian bargain where they pay more for most necessities and less for fripperies all the while seeing its means to do so constantly and simultaneously undermined by ever cheaper sources of labour in the name of various fallacies including the blessed ‘free market’, globalisation or the increasingly elusive current holy grail of productivity improvement.

    By definition anything that is plentiful or in surplus, even human labour and its input, is automatically cheapened, both in terms of cost and perceived value, by producer and consumer alike.

    With this glaringly obvious ‘fact’ in mind everything suddenly becomes very simple (for some) and far more complicated for others and that’s exactly where ‘good’ government begins (or ends).

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