View Poll Results: How much income inequality is TOO much income inequality?

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  • I am left-leaning, and there is too much income inequality right now.

    126 40.65%
  • I am left-leaning, and the current level is acceptable, but should not be higher

    1 0.32%
  • I am left-leaning, and I don't think there should be a limit on the level of income inequality.

    2 0.65%
  • I am a centrist, and there is too much income inequality right now.

    93 30.00%
  • I am a centrist, and the current level is acceptable, but should not be higher

    5 1.61%
  • I am a centrist, and I don't think there should be a limit on the level of income inequality.

    2 0.65%
  • I am right-leaning, and there is too much income inequality right now.

    66 21.29%
  • I am right-leaning, and the current level is acceptable, but should not be higher

    9 2.90%
  • I am right-leaning, and I don't think there should be a limit on the level of income inequality.

    6 1.94%
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Thread: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

  1. #91
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric7216 View Post
    OK, not counting OPEC, the following countries rank above the US is per capita income, in order:
    Liechtenstein, Macau, Bermuda, Monaco, Luxembourg, Singapore, Jersey, Norway, Falkland Islands, and Switzerland.

    It is odd but most of those are Constitutional Monarchies. Don't think that is the way to go but maybe if it works.

    Most of those countries are fiscal conservative, with rather good surpluses or small deficits. Macau has a 23.3% of GDP surplus and Norway has a 25.8%. Most are much better than the US which has a 4% deficit.

    6 have a higher tax rate than the US. Bermuda, Monaco, Singapore, and Jersey all are close to the US rate.

    Don't know what that means. And sometimes the policies that took a nation to the top are not the same as the policies that a country may currently be following and perhaps are not sustainable.

    What do you think the main factors are?
    First off, I want to thank you for approaching the question with seriousness, and not giving a snarky response. The nature of your reply says a lot about you, all to the good.

    As to what you said, the nations you listed are either city-states or very small nations - they aren't really sizable except for Switzerland and Norway. If you'll check, the economic heart of any nation is in its major cities - yes, there is revenue from agriculture, mining, and so forth in rural areas, but this almost never comes close to the revenue generated in urban regions with their factories, mercantile, and finance sectors. For instance, if Kansas goes broke, no big deal...but if NYC goes broke, our economy is suddenly in big trouble.

    The much smaller nations and especially the city-states don't have to worry about building and maintaining (at taxpayer expense) infrastructure such as roads, electricity et al, all over vast rural distances, and I believe you'll find that - again, with the exception of Norway and perhaps Switzerland - spend a sizable chunk of their tax revenue on national defense. They are able to use their tax revenue much more effectively to support their urban infrastructure instead. And btw, while Bermuda isn't urban, it is very, very friendly to the rich, and this skews the per capita income just as the oil wealth of OPEC nations does.

    In other words, in such a study, city-states and much smaller nations are statistical outliers, just as are the OPEC nations whose vast oil-wealth would also skew such a study. The key, then, would be to compare apples to apples, to compare sizable nations with large rural expanses with other such nations.

    My point is, if the hallmark of the success of an economy is the standard of living of its citizens, then we should be looking at what governmental and economic systems work best for nations that are like America: sizable, with significant rural areas, and with significant military power (which knocks Costa Rica out of the study, since they have no taxpayer-supported military). What we find is that the first-world democracies generally have the highest standard of living...and every single one of those first-world democracies have the big government, high effective taxes, and strong regulation that conservatives decry.

    To the mind of modern conservatives in America, this makes no sense...but one must ask, then, that why it is, of all the nations in the world (save OPEC states, city-states and very, very small nations), ALL the nations with the highest standard of living are first-world socialized democracies, all of whom have the big government, high effective taxes, and strong regulation that - according to the conservatives - are a sure-fire path to the economic dustbin of history?
    “To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good" - Solzhenitsyn

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  2. #92
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric7216 View Post
    Doing some more research.
    Of those countries with better per capita income, a slight majority seem to have a smaller government than the US, when comparing budget as a % of GDP. Jersey, Macau, Bermuda, Monaco, and Singapore have a smaller government as % of GDP, while Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, and Falklands have bigger government.

    You appear to be correct if you are hinting at GINI coefficients as 4 countries (Macau, Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland) have lower Ginis than the US while Singapore has a higher GINI. The rest were unknown. Not sure if I like the GINI coefficient when you don't know what's included always. And a country like Denmark, which ranks very low in income GINI ranks right up there with the US in wealth GINI.

    Not sure how GINI is computed. If the US has top 1% with 50% of the income than the GINI would be .49. If the top 20% has 80% of the income than the GINI would be higher, .60. So when we give tax breaks to the near rich, or whatever you want to call them, and people making over $100K/yr, our GINI is going up, even while we are "taxing the rich". Of course, the GINI has gone up more under Obama than it did under GWB, for what it is worth.
    Again, as I replied in #91 (as a reply to your #88), we have to compare apples to apples, and city-states like Singapore and Macau and very, very small nations like Luxembourg and Lichtenstein should not be considered for reasons I explained in #91.

    The following is a graph of the GINI coefficient - the degree of income inequality in a particular nation - since WWII:

    So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?-720px-gini_since_wwii-jpg

    As far as first-world nations go, most have a low income inequality. The US has a higher income inequality. I suspect that this is because of how strong our finance and investments sector is (as is England's, if to a lesser degree). But the point is, most of those nations with the lowest income inequality have the highest standards of living.

    What's more, those nations with the lower levels of income inequality also tend to have higher rates of social mobility (meaning, a better chance to rise above one's economic station in life):

    So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?-social_mobility_is_lower_in_more_unequal_countries-jpg

    So that means that first-world socialized democracies tend to have lower rates of income inequality and higher rates of social mobility. And this runs completely counter to modern American conservative economic theory that big government, higher taxes, and strong regulation are harmful to an economy.
    “To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good" - Solzhenitsyn

    "...with the terrorists, you have to take out their families." - Donald Trump

  3. #93
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric7216 View Post
    Maybe the answer is in having a state religion. Seems unlikely. But Monaco, Macau, Liechenstein and Luxembourg have Roman Catholic as their state religion (4 of the 10 non-OPEC countries which have a higher standard of living than the US). And I believe that Falkland Islands, Jersey, and Bermuda have the Anglican Church as the state religion. Norway has Luthernism as a state supported religion. Only Switzerland and Singapore lack a state religion, of the countries ahead of the US in per capita income.
    Do you think that is the answer?
    That's an interesting take, and one I had not considered - thanks! It's refreshing to be asked to look at it a different way, and I appreciate the challenge.

    But in reflection, I don't think that religion plays that great a part in determining a nation's economic success or lack thereof. For instance, the Philippines is by some accounts the most religious nation in the world, but that doesn't seem to have helped their economic success. In fact, their national hero Jose Rizal (sort of a combination of Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson) pretty much said that the Roman Catholic church significantly hindered their economic prosperity...but for some reason they remain majority Catholic. (disclaimer: I have a house and a lot of family there).

    If we ignore the divisions of denomination within any particular religion ("Christianity" as a whole instead of Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox/protestant or "Islam" as a whole instead of Sunni/Shi'a/Sufi, etc.) I think that we can safely say that for every successful first-world nation that follows a religion, we can point to at least one and usually several other nations that follow that religion that are not nearly so successful.
    “To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good" - Solzhenitsyn

    "...with the terrorists, you have to take out their families." - Donald Trump

  4. #94
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fletch View Post
    2040!!??!! You cant honestly believe that Indian politicians 25 years from now are going to hold themselves to some silly promise made today. They have simply kicked the can a generation down the road. Trust me, as 2040 approaches, the next batch of Indian politicians will kick the can another 10-20 years farther down the road and you will probably still be lapping it up. As for China, you and I will both be long gone and they will still be running more coal power plants than the US ever did. Seriously, if you believe in global warming, buy sun block because if its gonna happen, there is no way to stop it.
    You should be banned for life from being appointed as Secretary of State.
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    This group is the worst enemy of America and its freedoms. It includes, but is not limited to, all Trump supporters.

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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Contrarian View Post
    That's an interesting take, and one I had not considered - thanks! It's refreshing to be asked to look at it a different way, and I appreciate the challenge.

    But in reflection, I don't think that religion plays that great a part in determining a nation's economic success or lack thereof. For instance, the Philippines is by some accounts the most religious nation in the world, but that doesn't seem to have helped their economic success. In fact, their national hero Jose Rizal (sort of a combination of Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson) pretty much said that the Roman Catholic church significantly hindered their economic prosperity...but for some reason they remain majority Catholic. (disclaimer: I have a house and a lot of family there).

    If we ignore the divisions of denomination within any particular religion ("Christianity" as a whole instead of Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox/protestant or "Islam" as a whole instead of Sunni/Shi'a/Sufi, etc.) I think that we can safely say that for every successful first-world nation that follows a religion, we can point to at least one and usually several other nations that follow that religion that are not nearly so successful.
    Thank you for your 3 responses. I realized that you would point out the smallness/city-state type but those were the countries ahead of the US in per capita income. And I was somewhat joking about the power of religion and a monarchy. But still, looking at your list some things do stand out. Most of those countries do have a common language, common religion in some cases, common ethnicity. In short, they seem somewhat homogeneous. And they can take advantage of Hamiltonian evolution which suggests that we have evolved to help other LIKE US. I have always felt that social customs are stronger than laws. Yet the US prides itself on being diverse and multicultural. We don't want to be known as a Christian country. We can't even decide on an official language.
    I found it odd that in my list of countries (city/states) richer than the US all were similarly homogeneous with the exception of Singapore which is diverse, with 4 official languages and 3 major ethnicities. And those 2, US and Singapore, are the ones with high GINI coefficients.
    (Switzerland is arguably diverse with 4 languages and 3 major ethnicities but it has been Switzerland so long that there is a Swiss culture. Plus I can't tell a French from a German from an Italian)

    I think that it is harder for the US to achieve good equality because little binds us together. We don't feel that we are in the same boat. Clearly we can't stand one another-just read these type websites. Laws can force equality to a point but maybe it will never be like Denmark.
    (Canada may be an outlier with a fairly diverse society. Perhaps all those Maple Leafs and hatred/dislike of the US binds them, as well as the British Commonwealth).

    The top 10 countries with low GINI are: Sweden, Slovenia, Montenegro, Hungary, Denmark, Czech Rep, Norway, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and Austria. All of those have high tax rates. All except Hungary and Austria have less debt as % of GDP than the US. They are fiscally conservative. One of the sad development, IMHO, is that now Democrats are on the tax cutting bandwagon. (Except when it comes to 1%). I don't think that the course that we are on, with low taxes for almost all, and expensive entitlement programs, is sustainable.

    (And I should point out that having equality and an average income of $11,900, as in Montenegro, may not be better than the US average of $52,800.)
    Last edited by Eric7216; 01-22-15 at 10:30 PM.

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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Contrarian View Post
    That's an interesting take, and one I had not considered - thanks! It's refreshing to be asked to look at it a different way, and I appreciate the challenge.

    But in reflection, I don't think that religion plays that great a part in determining a nation's economic success or lack thereof. For instance, the Philippines is by some accounts the most religious nation in the world, but that doesn't seem to have helped their economic success. In fact, their national hero Jose Rizal (sort of a combination of Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson) pretty much said that the Roman Catholic church significantly hindered their economic prosperity...but for some reason they remain majority Catholic. (disclaimer: I have a house and a lot of family there).

    If we ignore the divisions of denomination within any particular religion ("Christianity" as a whole instead of Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox/protestant or "Islam" as a whole instead of Sunni/Shi'a/Sufi, etc.) I think that we can safely say that for every successful first-world nation that follows a religion, we can point to at least one and usually several other nations that follow that religion that are not nearly so successful.
    Second reply on this subject. And basically a rant.
    The US has successful destroyed any sense of community over my lifetime. We can't say "Merry Christmas" without offended someone. We can't say the Pledge of Allegiance. We can't say a "prayer" even though a prayer is nothing more than an expression of hope or affirmation. We probably can't even have a moment of silence. And with the end of the draft nothing forces us to mingle with people not like us. We can burn the flag. We can protest when two mangled I-beams are put together in some "t" shape. Don't want to offend anyone.
    I have never believed in gods or angels, or, for that matter, peace, love, and hope. Anything intangible. I believe in neurology, psychology, sociology, economics, and the physical sciences. I don't even believe in pain and suffering, which are nothing more than lack of rationality to a stoic or lack of enlightenment to a Buddhist. But these rituals, icons, and symbols like the flag, religion, etc. bind us together and I think are needed to have a mutually supportive society. All we have is multiculturalism and diversity which is kind of a crock because we really don't want any multiculturalism that doesn't match what we want. Then we call it hate speech or something, further fragmenting us.
    So we are left with a fragmented society that sees little in common and sees little reason to sacrifice in the hope of helping someone else.
    Laws can do something but at some point the Bill Gates' of the world simply decide that they don't have to have American citizenship and take their money elsewhere. Even the wealthiest have to feel some fairness in the system. If I were a billionaire I would look around and say that I would rather assist the 2.4 billion people who live on less than $2/day.

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    Last edited by Eric7216; 01-23-15 at 11:31 AM.

  7. #97
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Contrarian View Post
    Again, as I replied in #91 (as a reply to your #88), we have to compare apples to apples, and city-states like Singapore and Macau and very, very small nations like Luxembourg and Lichtenstein should not be considered for reasons I explained in #91.

    The following is a graph of the GINI coefficient - the degree of income inequality in a particular nation - since WWII:

    So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?-720px-gini_since_wwii-jpg

    As far as first-world nations go, most have a low income inequality. The US has a higher income inequality. I suspect that this is because of how strong our finance and investments sector is (as is England's, if to a lesser degree). But the point is, most of those nations with the lowest income inequality have the highest standards of living.

    What's more, those nations with the lower levels of income inequality also tend to have higher rates of social mobility (meaning, a better chance to rise above one's economic station in life):

    So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?-social_mobility_is_lower_in_more_unequal_countries-jpg

    So that means that first-world socialized democracies tend to have lower rates of income inequality and higher rates of social mobility. And this runs completely counter to modern American conservative economic theory that big government, higher taxes, and strong regulation are harmful to an economy.
    It sounds like your definition of a good economy is one where the pie is divided evenly. Unless conservatives are using that same definition, you haven't shown that they're wrong.
    If you expect people to be rational, you aren't being rational.

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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by JANFU View Post
    A progressive tax system, more you make, more you pay.

    Do the wealthy pay lower taxes than the middle class?

    The study, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, found that "virtually every state's tax system is fundamentally unfair, taking a much greater share of income from low- and middle-income families than from wealthy families." It added that state and local tax systems are "indirectly contributing to growing income inequality by taxing low- and middle-income households at significantly higher rates than wealthy taxpayers."

    In other words, it said the tax systems are "upside down," with the poor paying more and the rich paying less. Overall, the poorest 20 percent of Americans paid an average of 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes and the middle 20 percent of Americans paid 9.4 percent. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, pay only 5.4 percent of their income to state and local taxes.

    You'll Never Guess Which State Has the Nation's Most Unfair Taxes - 1

    The study, published by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, finds the poorest 20% of Washington’s population pay almost 17% of their income in taxes, while the richest 1% pay just 2.4% of their earnings. The middle 60% of earners are taxed slightly more than 10% of their income.
    Why am I not surprised that Illinois, where Rahm, Barack and the other gangsters have residences, is on the list? If they really believed their cause, they'd have Illinois put a 75% tax on their incomes to make sure they pay their fair share.

    Higher Emanuel fees and taxes add up - Chicago Tribune

    And looky here, I wonder who benefits from Chicago maintaining property taxes the same. Could it be the wealthy like Rahm and Barack? Then they reduce the city's support for retiree's health benefits......I thought healthcare was a right? Look at these hypocrites.
    "He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
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  9. #99
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by DifferentDrummr View Post
    India hasn't promised much of anything until 2040. Which isn't terrible, since they have practically nothing in the way of factories. (As you know, the rest of your post is just hackery, so I'll ignore it.)
    the rest of my post is informed mockery of the notion that the CCP is willing to sacrifice economic growth during a slowdown to "global warming" worries by comparing it to other, similarly naïve arguments.

  10. #100
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    Re: So How Much Income Inequality is TOO Much Income Inequality?

    Quote Originally Posted by mpg View Post
    It sounds like your definition of a good economy is one where the pie is divided evenly. Unless conservatives are using that same definition, you haven't shown that they're wrong.
    Where did I say that a good economy MUST be one where the pie is divided evenly? I never said that or anything that included words to that effect.

    That said, all I'm doing is pointing out that the best economies on the planet, the ones with the highest standards of living, DO strongly tend to be the ones where "the pie is divided (more) evenly".

    You don't have to like it...but that's the facts.
    “To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good" - Solzhenitsyn

    "...with the terrorists, you have to take out their families." - Donald Trump

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