Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rapacious Income Inequality?

In a recent editorial titled “A Hedge Fund Republic?” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof claims that if you want to observe “rapacious income inequality,” you don’t need to travel to a banana republic. Rather, you can simply look around the United States to see “stunning inequality” that is supposedly the result of some rapacious plundering of America’s poor by wealthy plutocrats.

Will Wilkinson responded in The Economist (”This Ain’t No Banana Republic“) and takes Kristof to task for his “confusion and laziness” about claims of “rapacious income inequality.”  I respond here at The Enterprise Blog

37 Comments:

At 11/23/2010 8:54 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Yes, but a large proportion of White families, who lived in this country for generations, became wealthy, while a large proportion of Black families did not.

Vernon Jordan 1981:

"I do not challenge the conservatism of this Administration. I do challenge its failure to exhibit a compassionate conservatism that adapts itself to the realities of a society ridden by class and race distinction."

 
At 11/24/2010 8:53 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Well, Peak. That might have something to do with Lyndon Johnson sweeping them into ghettos in the name of compassion in the 1960's.

Just as they were throwing off the shackles of Jim Crowe laws, the Dems were locking them into a virtually inescapable prison of poverty and dependence on government.

I have never in my life seen a society that isn't ridden by class and race distinction. The closest I've ever come is in the United States.

 
At 11/24/2010 8:56 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

The most rapacious income inequality in this country and any other country is the one between the ordinary citizen and the politician.

Income inequality in countries like the Soviet Union was more pronounced than income inequality in the United States. Moreover, unlike in the United States, the ordinary citizen was prevented from improving his lot in life. The inequality was truly rapacious. The government almost literally sucked the blood of the ordinary citizen like a vampire.

Useful idiots like Kristof would dearly love to see such a system here.

 
At 11/24/2010 10:52 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

I've heard it said that you can earn more income than 95% of the population and yet the 4% higher than you will earn 95% of the income.

Is this correct?

 
At 11/24/2010 11:23 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

For those of us who might guess about the meaning of rapacious, from the on-line Hyperdicitonary:

" Definition: 1.[adj] devouring or craving food in great quantities; "edacious vultures"; "a rapacious appetite"; "ravenous as wolves"; "voracious sharks"
2.[adj] excessively greedy and grasping; "a rapacious divorcee on the prowl"; "ravening creditors"; "paying taxes to voracious governments"




Synonyms: acquisitive, edacious, esurient, gluttonous, rapacious, ravening, ravenous, wolfish"

 
At 11/24/2010 11:23 AM, Blogger rjs said...

judge for yourself: the complete wage stats from 2009:

http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2009

 
At 11/24/2010 11:40 AM, Blogger Rand said...

Dear rjs:

Now here is a true clickable link:

http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2009

 
At 11/24/2010 11:51 AM, Blogger Rand said...

Dear rjs:

I read the chart. It only accounts for 150 million people. How do you account for the other 160 million people - dependents, retired people, tax cheats?

 
At 11/24/2010 9:55 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, but a large proportion of White families, who lived in this country for generations, became wealthy, while a large proportion of Black families did not.

If race were such a big factor why do black immigrants do so much better than black Americans? Or Indians, Korans, or Chinese who came to the country without much money and poor language skills but somehow managed to make it?

 
At 11/25/2010 9:19 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Peak, Van is right. There is an important distinction, something that African Americans decendant from slaves are having a really difficult time overcoming: They did not come to America by choice. They do not see America as a place of opportunity and it is indelibly etched into their psyche. I fear this means they "lose" before they "start."

Consider the futility and despair when you believe you are here not of your choice. Eventually you would believe there really is no point to working within the system and, frankly, without faith in the system, success would be marginal, at best.

Methinks brings up a good point in that the Democratic response is to build up through government subsidies. This has gotten nothing but taken a group without faith and now made them faithless and totally dependent. So is it a shock African Americans will struggle to create wealth?

The solutions are pretty brutal. Honestly, I think most Americans would prefer we keep things as they are. Unless, eliminating welfare, creating orphanages, possibly doubling the size of our prison system and wholesale elimination of the lunatic notion that we are "all equal" suddenly become fashionable.

 
At 11/25/2010 10:17 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Blacks were "put down" by American society for generations, which prevented them from building wealth for themselves and their families that other groups or families could and did.

 
At 11/25/2010 11:46 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Peak, Van is right. There is an important distinction, something that African Americans decendant from slaves are having a really difficult time overcoming: They did not come to America by choice. They do not see America as a place of opportunity and it is indelibly etched into their psyche. I fear this means they "lose" before they "start."

I do not buy this argument at all. It seems obvious to anyone who has had any contact that Americans of African descent see themselves as Americans first and have no trouble with the idea that they belong where they are.

The problem for the black community, which was doing fine as far as income, social advancement, education, and family formation were concerned in the 1950s, came from the progressive movement, which thought blacks were inferior and unable to take personal responsibility. A whole welfare state was created to gear towards the need of the lower classes, which included a disproportionate amount of blacks who had migrated from the rural areas in the South to booming cities in need of workers.

These progressives and their programs argued that blacks were victims who did not have what it took to advance by their own merit so they needed the help of a growing state bureaucracy. They made it easier for women to have kids without the need of a husband to help raise them. They excused poor academic performance for 'cultural' reasons, and made up all kinds of excuses for bad behaviors and poor skill sets. In essence we saw the rise of an industry dedicated to making blacks second class citizens in need of permanent government assistance that argued that blacks could not be successful without their help or the help of a state bureaucracy.

Several decades into that experiment it is evident to any rational observer that the progressives were wrong and that black people respond to incentives in the same way as others do. Those subsidies for idleness and social irresponsibility have done their job and blacks are now more dependent than ever on the state and its bureaucrats. Unless that ends native blacks will continue to do much worse than black immigrants who do not believe themselves inferior and incapable of advancing without the state.

 
At 11/25/2010 11:52 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Consider the futility and despair when you believe you are here not of your choice. Eventually you would believe there really is no point to working within the system and, frankly, without faith in the system, success would be marginal, at best.

I do not know of any blacks who feel that they belong in Africa rather than in the United States and doubt that you do either.

The system works fine for those willing to take personal responsibility but not so well when the government subsidizes the opposite.

Methinks brings up a good point in that the Democratic response is to build up through government subsidies. This has gotten nothing but taken a group without faith and now made them faithless and totally dependent. So is it a shock African Americans will struggle to create wealth?

The subsidies have done what was predicted. They made people more dependent and less responsible. Do you expect anything different?

The solutions are pretty brutal. Honestly, I think most Americans would prefer we keep things as they are. Unless, eliminating welfare, creating orphanages, possibly doubling the size of our prison system and wholesale elimination of the lunatic notion that we are "all equal" suddenly become fashionable.

But there isn't a material difference between blacks and whites when it comes to being capable of making a living in a free market. What we see is the effect of government programs. That effect would be exactly the same if we applied them to the underclass of other racial groups.

 
At 11/25/2010 11:53 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Blacks were "put down" by American society for generations, which prevented them from building wealth for themselves and their families that other groups or families could and did.

Nonsense. Blacks were quite capable and were advancing in many areas right up until the great welfare programs of the 1960s destroyed many of the incentives to be responsible and to take personal responsibility.

 
At 11/25/2010 12:50 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

African American Wealth
by Susan Anderson

History of race in America is in part one of economic subordination of black people, beginning with slavery and continuing, after Reconstruction, with the exclusion of blacks from certain occupations and professions.

Black business owners like Henry O'Bryant, who began in the 1950s by manufacturing uniforms recalls being told at the Frank Wiggins Trade School that tailoring classes were "reserved for white kids."

Broadway Federal Bank was established in 1946 by H. Claude Hudson, dentist and Los Angeles NAACP founder, to satisfy the post-World War II demand for homeownership when black GIs were denied mortgages by mainstream banks.

 
At 11/25/2010 1:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Here's an interesting view of the destruction caused by "Great Society" programs by a woman who has "been there, done that".

She also writes a weekly column, and recently ran for congress from CA district 37.

If you wonder why liberals favor so many government programs despite the obvious harm they cause, this should provide some insight.

 
At 11/26/2010 10:06 AM, Blogger Rand said...

Response to Jason:

It has been shown that most black people in the United states have ancestors who came to this country voluntarily.

Furthermore, if you look at Australia - it was founded by white criminal convicts who were transported from the United Kingdom. They seem to have done ok, in spite of that.

The most important indicator in the United States is economic mobility. People are free to move up or down from one income quintile to another totally by their own effort and desire - or lack thereof.

 
At 11/26/2010 10:56 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

The most important indicator in the United States is economic mobility. People are free to move up or down from one income quintile to another totally by their own effort and desire - or lack thereof.

I think that Jason believes blacks to be so inferior to whites that they cannot overcome their 'deficiencies' without the help of a benevolent state to look after their needs and interests.

 
At 11/27/2010 3:47 AM, Blogger Jason said...

"I think that Jason believes blacks to be so inferior to whites that they cannot overcome their 'deficiencies' without the help of a benevolent state to look after their needs and interests."

That is precisely NOT what I believe. VAN did you even read what I wrote? Truth told, I do believe they've been dealt a poor hand AND their so-called leadership has led them into a situation of dependency and blame. However, these are not excuses, just simply explanations.

And I do think most Americans would like to keep things as they are. HOWEVER, I never said I was in agreement with that group. You just assumed I was.

Rand, I did say African Americans decedent from slaves. What are you saying, exactly? Also, I would really like to see data on the voluntary immigration of Africans into America. I don't have proof you're wrong, but I seem to remember reading of large numbers of slaves in America pre-civil war. And the majority didn't return to Africa.

 
At 11/27/2010 6:45 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"There is an important distinction, something that African Americans decendant from slaves are having a really difficult time overcoming: They did not come to America by choice. They do not see America as a place of opportunity and it is indelibly etched into their psyche. I fear this means they "lose" before they "start.""...

OMG! You're not serious are you jason?

Well I for one am glad that William Ellison, Jr didn't know about that mindset...

You need to bone up on some history jason...

 
At 11/27/2010 6:58 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Juandos, it's not that I agree with this mindset. And it is not important whether or not people were better off as a result of anything. What matters is what people believe. And I can tell you, living in a city dominated by racial politics: truth, facts, realities and things like freedom and empowerment don't seem to mean much when a person and everyone they know believe something to be true.

It's funny really and sad..

 
At 11/27/2010 11:03 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Truth told, I do believe they've been dealt a poor hand AND their so-called leadership has led them into a situation of dependency and blame. However, these are not excuses, just simply explanations.

But they have not been dealt a poor hand. Do you really imagine that
American blacks would have better been off if they were born in some African kleptocracy instead?

What matters is the individual choices that we make as sentient beings. Each one of us is responsible for where we are in life no matter what hand we have been dealt. If blacks choose to live like helpless victims and stay dependent on the state they cannot blame it on the charlatans who pretend to speak for them.

I do not accept that you actually believe what you wrote. Does any one man, woman, or organization speak for you as an individual? Then why would you think that there is such a man, woman, or organization who speaks for individual blacks or that individual blacks accept as their representative?

 
At 11/28/2010 8:26 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Van, of course no one speaks for me. However, I choose to be informed, despite your beliefs to the contrary.

I'll respond to the rest of your post with a question: Why do African Americans overwhelmingly vote democratic? I mean it's like 96%, the most secure voting block there is right now. Is it because Democrats have created a series of programs that encourage personal responsibility and empowerment?

 
At 11/28/2010 10:12 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Van, of course no one speaks for me. However, I choose to be informed, despite your beliefs to the contrary.

So you are informed but black people can't be and they have someone speak on their behalf?

I'll respond to the rest of your post with a question: Why do African Americans overwhelmingly vote democratic?

Because the Democrats hand out free money to black people. The fact that the welfare state is keeping blacks dependent does not matter to many because they think that they will be the ones to benefit without feeling the negatives. It is the same reason why people gamble in the stock market by being long in what is an obvious bubble. They know that it is a bubble but believe that they will be able to get out when nobody else could.

I mean it's like 96%, the most secure voting block there is right now. Is it because Democrats have created a series of programs that encourage personal responsibility and empowerment?

As I wrote above, no. It is because poor blacks are being bribed with handouts. As long as money keeps flowing they will support whoever is giving them the cash. That is what everybody does. Of course, there is also the lack of a viable option from the Republicans. They offer little in the way of difference for black voters and they attack voluntary social transactions and social liberty. As such they are a problem for most black voters even if those voters could accept the economic policies of the Republicans because they were substantially different.

 
At 11/28/2010 10:57 AM, Blogger Jason said...

"So you are informed but black people can't be and they have someone speak on their behalf?"

I said "blacks can't?" Where? You must assume that I mean that. However, that is neither what I've said nor what I meant.

Van, it seems as if you are hell bent on classifying me a some closet racist with liberal leanings. Well, stop because you are wrong. i don't believe African Americans are inferior and I don't support (at all) the paternal nanny state that has been put in place by the closet-racist liberal class.

 
At 11/28/2010 1:06 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11/28/2010 1:43 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11/28/2010 1:48 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I do believe they've been dealt a poor hand AND their so-called leadership has led them into a situation of dependency and blame."

That same "so-called leadership" has lead many non-blacks into a situation of fear and guilt, and the notion that blacks have been dealt a poor hand.

For some strange reason, only Blacks and Hispanics in the US are assumed to need leadership. I don't believe I've encountered any references to Asian leadership, or for that matter White leadership. Are members of those groups better able to manage on their own? That seems to be the implication.

 
At 11/28/2010 2:19 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Van, it seems as if you are hell bent on classifying me a some closet racist with liberal leanings. Well, stop because you are wrong. i don't believe African Americans are inferior and I don't support (at all) the paternal nanny state that has been put in place by the closet-racist liberal class.

That puts us on the same side of the debate. But the way I read some of the statements your position was not exactly clear.

 
At 11/28/2010 2:25 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Ron, personally I do think the average African American has been dealt a poor hand. For instance, look at the number of children from unwed mothers and or broken homes. However, I can say I don't feel guilt about it because I've been dealt several bad hands, too and I don't make excuses for it. After all, we can't all be the proginy of Rockefeller or Gates.

And regarding so-called leadership, this has several meanings for me. Most people would think this means the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons, but in reality the African American community has a rather entrenched, amorphic, religious leadership class. In many instances, this is where the political work is done. So for instance, if you are a black man who wants to go into politics, you start to build your base in your church.

 
At 11/28/2010 2:26 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

For some strange reason, only Blacks and Hispanics in the US are assumed, by non-Blacks and non-Hispanics, to need leadership. I don't believe I've encountered any references to Asian leadership, or for that matter White leadership.

You haven't? Well, here is one example from Rose Wilder Lane, tongue firmly in cheek.

The American White is generally a friendly fellow, good-hearted, generous, and meaning no harm to anyone. His errors, even his cruelties, come from the false beliefs instilled in him by his environment and training. He needs help to overcome them.

 
At 11/28/2010 7:34 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"...personally I do think the average African American has been dealt a poor hand. For instance, look at the number of children from unwed mothers and or broken homes."

Jason,

This is a result of people responding to the incentives provided for them by those who think they know what is best for other people, and who believe that your money and my money should be taken from us to be redistributed to those who are "less fortunate".

The problems you mention didn't disproportionately afflict Blacks before LBJ's well intentioned "Great Society" measures began having just the opposite effect of what was intended. In fact, by some measures of well being, Blacks as a group made tremendous progress between the 1940s and the 1960s, but have made very little since. I don't remember the reference, but I believe the source is Thomas Sowell.

If you missed my earlier link, you might find this book interesting and enlightening reading as I did.

 
At 11/28/2010 7:57 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

The problems you mention didn't disproportionately afflict Blacks before LBJ's well intentioned "Great Society" measures began having just the opposite effect of what was intended. In fact, by some measures of well being, Blacks as a group made tremendous progress between the 1940s and the 1960s, but have made very little since. I don't remember the reference, but I believe the source is Thomas Sowell.

Sowell is one source. I believe that Charles Murray is another that may be of interest.

http://tinyurl.com/2atzk4g

 
At 11/28/2010 8:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"You haven't? Well, here is one example from Rose Wilder Lane, tongue firmly in cheek."

I should like to read more by Rose Wilder Lane. Can you recommend something to add to my reading list?

 
At 11/28/2010 8:58 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Sowell is one source. I believe that Charles Murray is another that may be of interest."

Thanks for the recommendation. I was able to order a used copy of "Losing Ground" from an Amazon seller for $0.24 .

 
At 11/28/2010 9:56 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I should like to read more by Rose Wilder Lane. Can you recommend something to add to my reading list?


It has been awhile since I read it but you may want to look at her 1936 piece, Give Me Liberty.

http://www.panarchy.org/lane/liberty.html

I am a fan of her book, Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority. I got the hardcover 50th Anniversary Edition, probably form Laissez Faire Books a few years ago and found it to be a decent read.

In a few months, whet it gets posted and you can get the article for free, you may want to take a look at Beito's Selling Laissez-faire Antiracism to the Black Masses: Rose Wilder Lane and the Pittsburgh Courier. Or you can subscribe to The Independent Review and get the article now.

http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=806

Given Beito's interest and research into Lane's ife and work there may be a book in the works. It would be of interest and value because Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson, along with Ayn Rand have a place in the American libertarian movement.

 
At 11/28/2010 10:08 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I was able to order a used copy of "Losing Ground" from an Amazon seller for $0.24 .

In the Discovery of Freedom, Lane makes a great argument about why its reliance on free markets and its virtually stateless society made Islam so dynamic. You may find it of interest but I would still look to Charles Adams', For Good and Evil as a supplement to the Islam story. As I have written on many occasions, Adams' history of taxation is a book that everyone should read.

http://tinyurl.com/2uglpw5

http://tinyurl.com/26kdenl

 

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