The Economist: Freakonomics

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Zute
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The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Zute » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:54 pm

Why Income Inequality Matters
The Economist complements this week’s print issue on rising income inequality with an online forum on the subject. Daron Acemoglu explains why we care about income inequality: “First, people’s well-being may directly depend on inequality, for example, because they view a highly unequal society as unfair or because the utility loss due to low status of the have-nots may be greater than the utility gain due to the higher status of the haves. Second and more importantly, equality of opportunity may be harder to achieve in an unequal society … Third and most importantly, inequality impacts politics. Economic power tends to beget political power even in democratic and pluralistic societies.” Meanwhile, Mark Thoma argues that inequality may soon restrict growth: “We may be near or even past the level of inequality where growth begins falling. The evidence on this is highly uncertain, so it’s difficult to say. But a few more decades like the last few could make the difference, so why take a chance?”
I certainly don't think we can argue this point: "inequality impacts politics. Economic power tends to beget political power even in democratic and pluralistic societies.”
I think we're all pretty aware how money influences elections.

This one I think is pretty tough to argue too: "equality of opportunity may be harder to achieve in an unequal society"
Pretty tough to attend a good school if you're poor. Pretty hard to send your kids to private schools and hire tutors for them. Harder to keep them away from drugs, gangs and other factors.
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Tudamorf
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Tudamorf » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:47 pm

Zute wrote:Pretty tough to attend a good school if you're poor.
Why?

If you're poor, I pay for your education. And your child care. And your medical care. And your food. And part of your housing. And many of your utilities. And I give you extra spending money on top of that.

But you don't pay for any of my stuff.

How's that for inequality?
Zute wrote:Harder to keep them away from drugs, gangs and other factors.
Really? You need money to keep your kids away from drugs and gangs?

Fyyr
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Fyyr » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:10 am

Damn, you sound like me.

What did I miss?

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Zute
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Zute » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:10 am


If you're poor, I pay for your education. And your child care. And your medical care. And your food. And part of your housing. And many of your utilities. And I give you extra spending money on top of that.
You might pay for poor education, poor child care and poor medical care. But tell me how many poor people actually go to top rated colleges compared to upper middle-class or wealthy?

Wealth buys you political power and opportunities that others will never have. Tell me how many regular or poor people get to go to the open meetings of the Commodities Futures Trade Commission to participate in hearings on derivatives reforms? Something that could have a very real impact on their lives in terms of further economics bubbles and busts. The only people that actually go to these meetings are lobbyists or people who work in derivatives. The only people serving on the committees and running the regulatory commission are very people who made their billions playing in the derivatives markets and then got bailed out when they went south. The very people who have millions riding on it and make the incredibly stupid decisions that we all had to bail out the likes of those banks heavily invested in them... and AIG.
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Tudamorf
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Tudamorf » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:49 pm

Zute wrote:You might pay for poor education, poor child care and poor medical care. But tell me how many poor people actually go to top rated colleges compared to upper middle-class or wealthy?
Before college, I went to public school. The same schools I now subsidize for poor people.

When I applied to colleges, if you were white, Jew, or Asian, you had to have top test scores and academic credentials.

If you were black or maybe Hispanic, you got in almost automatically unless your scores were horrid.

If you were poor, the schools would trip over themselves to give you a scholarship. Middle class and up had to pay full price.

The real reason poor people don't go to college is that they're just not motivated to do so and would rather remain in the cycle of poverty.

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Tudamorf
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Tudamorf » Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:13 pm

Zute wrote:Wealth buys you political power and opportunities that others will never have.
How wealthy was Obama, growing up?
Zute wrote:Tell me how many regular or poor people get to go to the open meetings of the Commodities Futures Trade Commission to participate in hearings on derivatives reforms? Something that could have a very real impact on their lives in terms of further economics bubbles and busts.
A far more direct way that poor people could have had an impact on the economy and their lives would have been, in the past decade, to NOT buy houses they couldn't afford.

If every poor family had NOT bought that house they couldn't afford, the beneficial effect would have been infinitely greater than attending any particular meeting or hearing.

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Zute
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Zute » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:12 am

You can always cherry pick an example but when you compare numbers can you truly back up that poor people have the same representation and opportunity that wealthy people do? As the divide between the wealthy and poor grow, that opportunity gap also grows.
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Re: The Economist: Freakonomics

Post by Tudamorf » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:24 pm

Zute wrote:when you compare numbers
What numbers?

How do you quantify opportunity?

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