Monday, August 13, 2012

The Significant Medal Inequality of the Olympics

As predicted in a recent CD post, there was a significant amount of "medal inequality" in the 2012 Summer Olympics, see the country shares above of the total 962 medals that were awarded this year to athletes from 85 countries.   Note the amazing similarity between the shares of adjusted gross income earned in the U.S. in 2008 and the country shares of Olympic medals awarded this year, in both cases by the top 5, 10, 25 and 50% of "participants" or "earners."

The average person seems to understand how "medal taxes" and "medal redistribution" would undermine the competitive process that is essential to the success of the Olympics, but then that same person often seems to accept progressive "income taxes" and "income redistribution," without realizing that the "tax and redistribution" process can undermine incentives to work, produce and invest that are essential to the success of the market economy.  


At 8/13/2012 6:28 PM, Blogger Scott Drum said...

Actually the argument for medal sharing is much stronger. Unlike income, medal count truly is a zero sum game. When one athlete wins, another loses. The same is not true for income. Your earning does not diminish what I can earn.

At 8/13/2012 6:51 PM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

We could levy modest taxes like a dollar (or euro) or two per ticket sold at professional events in the dominating nations and give the money to the amateur associations in the nations with the fewest to zero medals. I am not sure that it would make much difference.

The desire to compete is individual, not national, only that some nations make this more possible than others.

Of course state subsidies for athletes also brings some complexity to the analysis. In truth, all athletes are "subsidized" by family, friends, equipment makers, etc. Also, the presence of true professionals, such as the NBA basketball players, also must be taken into account.

Still, if you want to socialize or communize or syndicalize the Olympics you can... though the risk of "Harrison Bergeron" is very real when you take from those who can to enable those who cannot.

At 8/13/2012 7:01 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Your earning does not diminish what I can earn.

The core belief of a leftist is the opposite of what you just wrote.

At 8/13/2012 7:27 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

It's not that zero sum, Scott. In Vancouver, the silver medalists in pairs skating whined so long and so loud that the olympic committee gave them a gold medal too. So, that year, there were two gold medalists.

At 8/14/2012 8:40 AM, Blogger James said...

The columnist at our local fish rage thinks the wealth should be spread around so other countries can have a fair shot at medals.

At 8/14/2012 4:55 PM, Blogger Its GSATT said...

Why not just make more medals. And a podium up to 90th place.

I won a wooden medal. Like a' BOSS.

Why are there not chubby folks competing. that sucks too.

Dogeball 2016

At 8/15/2012 7:05 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Why not just make more medals. And a podium up to 90th place."

Liability. Anyone more than 10 ft. above ground level is at risk of falling and getting injured or killed. The insurance premiums would be prohibitive.

At 8/15/2012 8:40 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

You have a point, Ron H. We should just give everyone gold. There are plenty of leeches but no losers in this world.


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