Saturday Links

Saturday, June 16th, 2012
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40 Responses to “Saturday Links”

  1. #1 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

    While I 100% agree with the ACLU, imagine how terrifying it must be for a teacher who tries to prevent a conflict by removing what s/he believe is hate speech on a shirt to get a letter that states:

    >In event of litigation, the school district, i f unsuccessful, could be liable for
    plaintiffs damages and attorneys’ fees. In addition, implicated school officials could forfeit
    their qualified immunity and become personally liable, for damages and attorneys’ fees, i f
    they violated clearly established constitutional rules of which they ought to have known.
    E.g., Doninger v. Niehoff, 642 F.3d (2d Cir. 2011). They could also be assessed punitive
    damages i f a court were to find that they had acted with “reckless or callous indifference” to
    these rules.

  2. #2 |  celticdragonchick | 

    About the dingo attack case…I cannot imagine the horror of losing a child to a wild animal and then being imprisoned for a false charge.

    I don’t think I would be as forgiving as she is about it.

  3. #3 |  nigmalg | 

    I can’t imagine being as forgiving as half the people in stories on this website.

    Take the man jailed for 30 years on drug smuggling. He’s wife is sick and the drug warrior parole officer (is he even still on parole?) wants to unjustifiably bar him from his income. Needless to say, I would be quite hostile at that point.

  4. #4 |  Len | 

    Expressive T-shirt in school? This crap in one form or another has to happen as a result of public schools. Have private schools, you have conditions up front that prevent such conflict when “everybody” is a stakeholder.

    Again, however, it’s not a 1st amendment issue.

    1) The USC was an agreement between the states, Lincoln had no authority to prevent any party to the agreement from leaving it. Further to argue that any state must ask leave of others to leave the agreement is to make any state a hostage to a majority, regardless of however many violations of the agreement.

    USC no longer in effect.

    2) To make matters worse certain states were forcibly prevented from enacting republican government. To say that other parties to an agreement can put in their proxies to act on their behalf, rather than the concerned party is to void that agreement.

    USC no longer in effect.

    3) The claim that “privileges and immunities” somehow turns the Bill of Rights against the states, when formerly it was to prevent the federal government from swallowing up the states, and makes us now a nation rather than a voluntary association of states and that this transformation occurred with so little debate or acknowledgement of what was being done can only fly with idiots or those who must believe in the greatness of “AMERICA”..or DEMOCRACY.

  5. #5 |  RT | 

    When I first read the “Waltons” line, I thought you were referring to the TV show and was thinking “WTF?”.

  6. #6 |  Aaron | 

    Reggie: Lincoln did not prevent the South from leaving the Union. They left, and talks were ongoing as to what to do with Federal property embedded in the states that left.

    Then the South fired on the North, and the the North justifiably conquered them.

  7. #7 |  SamK | 

    The comments on the first Walton link (only ten right now) sum up my thoughts pretty well…I’ll quote a short one:

    So the bottom 25% of the US citizenry is UNDERWATER, and this piece of information is supposed to make us feel BETTER about the distribution of wealth in this country?!?

    I encourage all to become familiar with the GINI coefficient and US trend:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient#US_income_Gini_indices_over_time

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    So the bottom 25% of the US citizenry is UNDERWATER, and this piece of information is supposed to make us feel BETTER about the distribution of wealth in this country?!?

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of feeling better or worse, only that the soundbite is misleading.

    But on the “better” side, a good chunk of that 25% are recent graduates who will more than recover their debt. (Why student loan debt has grown so much is obviously a concern — and a different discussion.)

  9. #9 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “The police report alleges the teacher chose to show the child ‘why bullying is bad’ by instructing his peers to ‘Hit him!’ and ‘Hit him harder!’ It also states that the second teacher intervened only after one of the children hit the boy hard on his upper back.”

    Oh wonderful. Little Johnny’s first lynch mob. Since mob beatdowns solve so many problems in the ghetto, why not bring them into the classroom. Is this whole country going Jerry Springer or what?

  10. #10 |  Other Sean | 

    Reggie #1,

    You wrote: “While I 100% agree with the ACLU, imagine how terrifying it must be for a teacher to get a letter that states…’implicated school officials could forfeit their qualified immunity and become personally liable’…”

    I’m trying to imagine a public school teacher terrified of being held responsible for something, and…I can’t.

    I want to. Believe me, I want so badly to imagine it.

  11. #11 |  SamK | 

    I suppose, maybe…I’m not terribly wound up about there being income disparities in the US, and I’m on the fence about wealth (both are better minimized but not eliminated in my mind)…but I’m not sure it’s really misleading. You may be right about a significant number of low-wealth people being on their way up, but I’m hesitant to simply accept it. Mobility has been dropping in the US and I’ve known more than a handful of college grads with even STEM degrees that ended up at Toys-R-Us or something similar.

    In any case, a single family unit owns more than a massive number of Americans. If that’s true, it’s true. If it’s bad for us it’s bad for us. If it’s good or neutral so be it. The fact that anyone with $12 to their name has more than (pulling only from the article comments) 24.8% of Americans is frightening in its own way, and it certainly doesn’t change the drastic differences between the wealth of the Waltons and that person with $12 in their pocket. I don’t think it’s a misleading statistic in this context because of that. The idea is that wealth concentration in an upper crust oligarchy massively suppresses those in the lower strata of society. Pushing 25% of us into a position where our wealth distribution is dead on zero is supporting of that position, even if you’re one of the people with $12.

    It doesn’t make Amy Goodman a purveyor of truth or correct in her other stances, but it is, at worst, very far from the sort of lies and truth-bending I’m normally concerned about in politics such as defining anyone we kill as the bad guy, flat out lying, falsifying documents, etc. The statistic might not be horrifying to you or me, but I can certainly see why it concerns people who feel financial disparities are bad for the country. To copy the Forbes’ article style, it’s still about the top tail.

  12. #12 |  Other Sean | 

    SamK #11,

    The problem with Goodman’s misleading statement is that it leaves people with the impression that our economic problems could be solved by means of some painless wealth redistribution.

    In other words, she’s screaming “there’s more grain in the temple than all of us have in our kitchens combined”. What people hear is: “there’s enough grain in the temple to feed us all.”

    And that simply isn’t true. If you expropriated the ENTIRE Walton fortune and gave it all to the bottom third of Americans, it would amount to a one time largesse of $1,000 per person. And in the process you would have destroyed the very mechanism – Walmart – by which those many of those same Americans acquire their essential household goods…because (and this is something people like Amy Goodman steadfastly REFUSE to understand) most of that fortune is active as working capital. She’d have people believe it was all going to yacht fuel or something.

    In other words, she’s a whole lot WORSE than a flat out liar. She’s a one-eyed fool leading the blind from a position of economic ignorance that is just totally inexcusable for a public intellectual in the year 2012. We’re not a bunch of cro-mags arguing over the best way to carve up an antelope here, and if she’s going to have an opinion about economic matters, she needs to read a fucking book or even just bust out a calculator before opening her mouth.

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Othet Sean,

    One of the plagues of the last hundred years or so has been the gabble of ignorant twits who consider themselves to be intellectuals, but who have never gone to the trouble of actually learning anything difficult. As a consequence of their towering ignorance of economics, physics, engineering, military history, and chemistry (to name but a sample) these imbeciles have flooded society with dozens, even scores, of high minded plans that absolutely cannot work. And every time somebody tries to explain WHY the idiots attack that person visciously, and then preen.

    Foo.

  14. #14 |  David | 

    Two things regarding the Wealth distribution; firstly, if we’re trying to gauge how well off people are financially, it sounds like it would be much better to try compare people based on both wealth and income.
    Secondly, the fact that the Waltons aren’t alone in having more wealth than 25% of Americans isn’t all that comforting; it just implies that the 25% have so little, that many people have more than them (although as per the first point, this may not be enough to judge how badly off they are).

  15. #15 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @7 – Well, could be worse. America has a decent graduate premium. In the UK, with the new 9k/year fees…most degrees will COST workers money across their working lives!

    Capital has, however, pushed out wages across the developed world and things are going to get worse if nothing’s done about that. The “Libertarian” answer of speeding up the process by giving companies unprecedented powers…

  16. #16 |  Jim Fryar | 

    The media circus surrounding the Chamberlain case bordered on histrionics and no claim was to silly to publish. On the other hand with the huge interest in the case, everybody seemed to have an opinion, few of them backed up by any knowledge of the subject.

    Climate guru Tim Flannery has just released a mea culpa on his attitude to the case as a student at the time:

    “At the time of the first two coronial inquests I was a doctoral student in the biology department of a major Australian university, and my biases were such that I accepted Lindy Chamberlain’s guilt uncritically. Her religion was one factor. The Chamberlains were Seventh-day Adventists and media reports of the strange practices of their “cult” (as we were led to think of it) included inferences of child sacrifice that did not strike me as beyond belief. …”

    “… Biologists feared that they would face widespread persecution if the coroner found them to be the cause of Azaria’s death”

    The average Australian is not burdened by guilt over the case as the article seems to assert. Some of those who displayed their stupidity and closed mindedness at the time have come out with apologies. Tragically many of those who were shouting guilt back then still hold the same opinion.

  17. #17 |  John Spragge | 

    Sorry, the comment by Forbes on Amy Goodman’s comment about the Waltons strikes me as a cheap gotcha. They acknowledge she’s told the truth; the six main heirs of Sam Walton do indeed have more assets than the bottom thirty percent of the population. To argue that this doesn’t matter because a quarter of the US population has no net assets not only misses the point, it begs the question: if it matters that six individuals control as much wealth as fifteen million Americans who do have household assets, it doesn’t matter any less because those six individuals also, by definition, have more than the seventy five million Americans who live in household with no assets. Nearly everyone has more assets than someone else. That doesn’t make disparities in income and assets any less of an issue, particularly when money buys political and media power.

  18. #18 |  perlhaqr | 

    Leon: What’s that? Do you have a link / longer explanation of what you mean by “fees”? Fees for / on what?

  19. #19 |  Tim Worstall | 

    “Sorry, the comment by Forbes on Amy Goodman’s comment about the Waltons strikes me as a cheap gotcha.”

    As the person who wrote one of those Forbes pieces. No, not a cheap gotcha. An explanation rather. You’re entirely at liberty to make of the facts whatever you wish. But it is a fact, as will obviously be true in any society where people borrow to invest in anything at all, whether human or physical capital, that some section of the society has a negative net worth.

    Which is a rather important thing to recall when discussing the wealth distribution.

    As I point out, I’m really very relaxed indeed about the medical resident with the half a million negative net worth….for they’re also on the verge of a $400,000 a year job. This isn’t a problem that society needs to solve as far as I can work out.

  20. #20 |  David | 

    @19
    I’d expect that no one is too worried about someone who has a negative net worth, yet has the ability to earn a large proportion of that in a year.
    Now, if the article could offer that most of the people with negative net worth have the income to cover it, I’d agree this isn’t a concern.

  21. #21 |  Belle Waring | 

    Mr. Worstall posits that much of the lowest wealth-stratum of society is in debt due to high tuition which is about to be repaid handsomely by a career as, say, a surgeon. One sign of this being true would be a high rate of movement between the lowest and highest quintiles of society. Sadly, US social mobility has fallen from its peak, is dramatically lower than mobility in Sweden or France or Denmark, and shows no sign of coming around from its swoon. One can’t help but feel that this both undermines the general thesis and supports the more individual one that the Forbes comment was a cheap gotcha. “She’s right, but that’s only because the poorest 25% of Americans are even more broke-ass than you thought!” is not the most devastating rebuttal of all time, social equity wise.

  22. #22 |  Tim Worstall | 

    “Mr. Worstall posits that much of the lowest wealth-stratum of society is in debt due to high tuition which is about to be repaid handsomely by a career as, say, a surgeon.”

    No Ms. Waring, I do not posit that.

    Rather, I state that someone with such education debt is likely to be in that group which has a negative net worth. This is a very different statement than what you attribute to me, the idea that most of those with that negative wealth are in such a position.

    Position x puts you in group y is not the same as stating that most in group y are in position x.

    However, since you’ve raised that point it would be interesting to examine it.

    “Two-thirds of college seniors graduated with loans in 2010, and they carried an average of $25,250 in debt.”

    http://projectonstudentdebt.org/pub_view.php?idx=791

    It will depend on a number of factors: how many such recent graduates are defined as being their own households for example. How many such recent graduates have assets greater than their debts (not all that many would be my guess).

    If we do define recent graduates as being households then my best guess would be that two thirds of them have a negative net worth. In the way that we measure these things that is, for we don’t count that degree as a financial asset despite the obvious value that some of them have (A BA in Finance having one, a Masters in Puppetry perhaps another).

    “Sadly, US social mobility has fallen from its peak, is dramatically lower than mobility in Sweden or France or Denmark,”

    I am well aware of this: although as an Englishman I do not define economic mobility as being the same as social mobility.

    Without doing anything so boring as trying to look up any facts what I would posit about the wealth distribution is that those with high negative net worth are likely to be exactly those who have borrowed to improve their human capital. Because by the way we measure these things we see the debt but do not count the asset as a financial asset.

    Those who we would count as poor in the more traditional sense I would expect to have a *small* negative or positive net wealth. A small positive for of course if it were large then we wouldn’t consider them poor. A small negative because access to the sort of lending which leads to a large negative is one of those things that the poor tend not to have access to.

  23. #23 |  Other Sean | 

    John Spragge, you wrote: “That doesn’t make disparities in income and assets any less of an issue, particularly when money buys political and media power.”

    Leaving aside the whole dispute about what money actually buys in politics…

    There is no connection between concentrated wealth and political power. The NRA doesn’t need billionaires to be one of the biggest lobbying groups in the world. The teachers unions have captured an entire political party just by humbly scraping together the dues of several million salaried thousandaires.

    In fact, you’ve got it backwards: it’s not private millions but public membership organizations that hold fearsome sway over the political process.

    An Arkansas Republican can get elected whether the Walton family likes him or not (it might make things unnecessarily difficult, but he can still do it). But a California Democrat cannot win office without say so from that blue-blooded redoubt of plutocracy known as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association?

  24. #24 |  Pi Guy | 

    “#4 | Len | June 16th, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Again, however, it’s not a 1st amendment issue…

    1) The USC was an agreement between the states…

    USC no longer in effect… {astonishment mine}

    Wholly Jeebus, Len – not again.

    Please PLEASE back this very spurious and unique claim – namely, that the United States Constitution does not apply to all of these United States. Even in the case at hand, the American Civil Liberties Union intervened on behalf for the very reason that school faculty member(s) violated the student’s 1st Amendment rights.

    I know you’re a smart guy – you’ve told us so in no uncertain terms – but, for the life of me, I want to understand this very unusual interpretation of the authority of the Constitution over the states that you keep claiming. So, if you could find it your clearly-more-full-of-truth mind of yours to explain this, I’d appreciate it.

    I really want to understand why you feel the Constitution doesn’t apply to the states and you keep saying “because I said so”. If it doesn’t apply, why, again, were the following cases, all adjudicated by the Supreme Court, Constitutional challenges to the local/state laws:
    - McDonald v. Chicago
    - Heller v. DC
    - Kelo v. New Haven
    - Dover v. Kitzmiller
    and even
    - Brown v. Bd of Ed

    Every single one of these cases were decided by simply asserting that the local- or state-level law/ruling violated someones’ rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. IOW: the states can’t just do what they want. They are bound.

    If you can identify one – just one – single case heard and judged by SCOTUS that didn’t on a constitutional challenge, I’d have to consider the possibility that I’m in error here. So far, though, you just keep up the “USC doesn’t apply…blah blah blah… Linconln…I know and you don’t so do you keep challenging me…having spent years studying the USC…”

    Please, Bro – throw me a bone. Make me think about it. Or else, accept every bit of criticism you get when you assert something so absolutely foreign to all the rest of our way of thinking.

  25. #25 |  supercat | 

    #11 | SamK | “…and I’m on the fence about wealth (both are better minimized but not eliminated in my mind)…”

    People who receive marginal wealth, by what ever means, generally use some fraction of it (0% to 100%, inclusive) in such fashion as to generate more wealth, and some faction in some fashion as to not generate more wealth. Wealth which is used to generate more wealth generally benefits many people in the process (e.g. if it’s used toward building a factory, that factory will not only generate wealth for its owner, but will benefit of its workers, suppliers, and customers). In a free society, the people who use a larger portion of their marginal wealth to generate more wealth, will naturally end up with more wealth than those who do not, and each dollar of wealth they acquire will generate more wealth than it would if given to someone who would not use it to generate wealth.

    There are two main alleged “problems” with concentrations of wealth that occur via this means (those who more effectively use their wealth to generate more, ending up with more than those who do not). One “problem” is that happiness and well-being are supposedly functions relative wealth rather than absolute; the fact that the poor in this country can afford dwellings with running water and electricity–things which would have been extravagant luxuries 100 years ago–supposedly does not really make them better off since the rich can afford vastly more extravagant luxuries than were available 100 years ago. While it is certainly true that many people have been taught that they’re supposed to be miserable if other people are wealthier than they are, I would suggest that such people are miserable not because of others’ wealth, but because they’ve believe they’re supposed to be miserable.

    The second problem is that over-concentration of wealth supposedly leads to over-concentration of political power. While it is true that this can happen to some extent, the effect is made worse by supposed attempts to check it. Such measures always work to the benefit of those who implementing them, who naturally will have the lion’s share of political power. They do not prevent the concentration of political power, but rather serve to protect those who have it from those who might otherwise act to weaken it.

    Concentration of wealth, when such concentration is the result of honest people making the best use of their resources, is a good thing. To be sure, concentration of wealth can sometimes follow as a consequence of concentrated political power, and that is a bad thing, but as noted before, efforts to prevent that by preventing concentration of wealth merely serve to reinforce the concentrations of political power, making the situation worse.

  26. #26 |  Other Sean | 

    Supercat,

    Nice comment. Amy Goodman’s remarks and some of the replies offered in support show no evidence their authors are even aware of a production process in which this thing called wealth plays a part. They speak in terms of “owning”, “mobility”, and “disparities”, as if wealth was simply an end product that can be cleanly separated from the process of its creation.

    Marxists back in the day at least knew what capital was. They could give you a reasonably correct description of how it worked. In fact they understood there are important advantages to be found in large accumulations of capital.

    You won’t find even that level of economic sophistication in the Democracy Now crowd. I mean, do you think Amy Goodman or Michael Moore could name the factors of production if called upon to do so? Not a chance.

    It’s shocking to behold, but the Left really has taken some giant intellectual steps backward in the last 100 years.

  27. #27 |  John Spragge | 

    @Tim Worstall: No sale. Obviously some households and individuals will have a “negative net worth” in a society where people borrow, and obviously anyone with a positive net worth will have more than the net sum of those who have nothing or less than nothing. The Walton heirs command more money than fifteen million Americans who have a positive net household worth, and Amy Goodman has no simple way to make that point without including all the households that have a zero or negative net worth. That doesn’t make her point misleading.

    Other Sean: sorry, I don’t have time to educate you on the number of ways in which the concentration of wealth in the hands of the six Walmart heirs might or might not serve overall American productivity, the extent to which the management and investors of Walmart might or might not have grown their wealth and their business by taking inappropriate advantage of government programs, in he US and abroad, and the merits and problems of the Walmart business model for long term productivity, in the United States and elsewhere. I have a business to get off the ground in an uncertain economy. If you to impute economic illiteracy to Amy Goodman, please point to a specific comment in which she says something untrue or ill-educated, rather than a remark she made that everyone concedes the literal truth of.

  28. #28 |  Belle Waring | 

    22: Indeed, poor people can’t get very far into debt, for obvious reasons. However, the first of these quotes seems disingenuous, at best, when combined with the second:
    1) “Rather, I state that someone with such education debt is likely to be in that group which has a negative net worth. This is a very different statement than what you attribute to me, the idea that most of those with that negative wealth are in such a position.”
    2) “As I point out, I’m really very relaxed indeed about the medical resident with the half a million negative net worth….for they’re also on the verge of a $400,000 a year job. This isn’t a problem that society needs to solve as far as I can work out.”

    Why would you be so nonchalant about deep inequities in the distribution of wealth if it weren’t, in fact, a problem affecting only a small number of soon-to-be-solvent households? It is remotely possible that you think America faces a serious problem, and that action needs to be taken to pull its poorest citizens out of the morass into which they have sunk even as the top .01% speeds vanishingly far away. If this is so, I would be interested to hear from you what types of action you think would help. It seems to me, rather, that you think NO action needs to be taken, and that there is no problem, generally, with the current distribution of wealth in the US. This is more consistent with my reading of your comments in #21, despite the fact that “all x’s are y != all y’s are x,” something that has been brought to my attention in the past.

  29. #29 |  Tim Worstall | 

    “Why would you be so nonchalant about deep inequities in the distribution of wealth if it weren’t,”

    Because I’m not actually very worried about deep inequities in the wealth distribution. Not for any reason other than such inequality isn’t something that particularly worries me.

    “out of the morass into which they have sunk even as the top .01% speeds vanishingly far away.”

    And on this I’ve recently pointed out elsewhere (but of course you’re not to know that) that if we are to worry about inequality which inequality is it that we should worry about? That between the top 20% of the world income (or wealth) distribution which is at a guess about where poor Americans are and the top 0.1% of that world distribution?

    Or between the bottom 20% of the world income distribution and that top 0.1%?

    Globalisation is increasing the incomes of those bottom 20% really rather well: the last 30-40 years have seen the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species. We can also ascribe some healthy chunk of that 0.1% roaring away to said globalisation.

    And we also know that globalisation is reducing global inequality while increasing in country inequality. If we are to worry about inequality that sounds like a reasonable bargain to me.

  30. #30 |  Other Sean | 

    John Spragge,

    “I don’t have time to educate you on the number of ways…”

    Ah but isn’t that what guys always say when they punk out from a fight. I notice you did still have time to throw out 100 words worth of assertions, after offering that plea. So I guess it’s just the time needed to construct an actual argument or back it up with evidence, that you can’t afford to spare.

  31. #31 |  Other Sean | 

    Belle,

    Another thing to consider: with interest rates at or under the level of inflation, there’s really no incentive for lower income households to maintain any kind of positive net worth.

    The value of current consumption is always higher than the value of future consumption, unless some premium is added to the latter. Right now there is no such premium. People get nothing in return for their savings; in fact they suffer a risk of devaluation that increases with every moment they delay the decision to spend.

    So isn’t it simply rational for them to buy more now, and leave the business of worrying about the Walton fortune to someone else.

    By the way…none of this is even an accident. It’s a stated goal of government policy to drive up consumer spending by creating incentives to borrow and splurge (a goal and a policy you can be sure Amy Goodman wholly supports).

  32. #32 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    rather than a remark she made that everyone concedes the literal truth of.

    In economics, such things only exist as perceptions. It is in challenging these ideas that produce major advances in humanity. Challenge the fallacy that wealth disparity is some horrible monster to be managed away.

    Building off what Other Sean wrote above, one of the best friends the poor could have is deflation. But the US has clearly stated they will do whatever is needed to ensure there is only inflation–as anyone massively in debt would do. Lots of bubble baths ahead.

  33. #33 |  supercat | 

    #31 | Other Sean | “People get nothing in return for their savings; in fact they suffer a risk of devaluation that increases with every moment they delay the decision to spend.”

    Not only that, but some it’s no secret that some politicians want to steal the wealth of those who save for retirement, if they can figure out a way to do so. I wish people would wake up to the fact that the country can only survive if people save for retirement, and that will only happen if they can be confident that any politicians who try to steal their wealth will be tarred and feathered.

  34. #34 |  The Most Absurd Human Rights Violations (100): Lex Talionis in Kindergarten | P.a.p.-Blog, Human Rights Etc. | 

    [...] The mother added — and the police report confirmed — that some of Aiden’s classroom friends told him they didn’t want to hit the boy but did so because they were afraid not to. (source, source) [...]

  35. #35 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @18 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11483638

    Basically, all the decent (and most of the other) Universities are charging £9k/year tuition to domestic students. Up from 3.3k. And the interest rates are increasing by 4-5% per year.

    The UK average graduate premium is ~£2,250 per year. VERY low. Students will be coming away with £40k+ in debt (as you have to add living costs on top of the tuition)…that’s over DOUBLE the US average! And you have a MUCH bigger graduate premium!

    @25 – Except they can’t. Over three million people in this country (the UK) have stopped or cut down by over 90% on their electricity in the last five years. A million for gas, but that’s now rising rapidly too. Capital generates capital, and it’s crushing wages.

    @29 – And it’s now driving millions in more expensive countries into poverty. As in, not being able to eat properly and afford utilities and rent.

  36. #36 |  John Spragge | 

    @Boyd Durkin: In his most recent posting, Tim Worstall has made the standard globalist case for inequality. Nobody else has challenged the notion of wealth inequality as a problem; they have simply argued she said something that while literally quite true, somehow had the potential to mislead. I find that accusation inappropriate, because I see the fact Amy Goodman’s comment as a useful illustration of the extent of the disparities, and I don’t consider her phrasing of it misleading. If you want to argue against the notion of wealth disparity as a problem, go for it.

  37. #37 |  Other Sean | 

    John,

    “Nobody else has challenged the notion of wealth inequality as a problem.”

    You’ve got it wrong on two counts. A couple of people certainly did challenge that notion. But more importantly, it’s the burden of your side to explain why such inequality is a problem in the first place.

    You can’t just start with “inequality of wealth is bad because it involves inequality of wealth, which of course is bad.”

  38. #38 |  ChrisV | 

    I am Australian and just barely old enough to remember the Chamberlain case. Lindy was crucified in a media circus and much of the public participated, with an awful lot of people certain she was guilty, opining on what a shame it was we didn’t have the death penalty, etc etc. This participation in the demonization of what turned out to be an innocent woman is what people feel shame over, not per se that our system convicted someone innocent.

  39. #39 |  supercat | 

    #35 | Leon Wolfeson | “Except they can’t.”

    Who can’t what? I don’t understand what you’re responding to.

    “Capital generates capital, and it’s crushing wages.”

    Economic and technological progress change the relative values of things. If it many times twice as much to produce a widget as a whatzit, and someone comes up with a technique for manufacturing widgets so that they cost only a fraction as much as a whatzit, then someone who used to be able to buy several whatzits for each widget he produced will no longer be able to do so. On the other hand, many people will be able to afford a lot more widgets than they otherwise would. Since technological and economic progress occur in many fields, even people whose field of industry has had wages depressed by technological progress in that field, such loss would be offset by the fact that progress in other fields will reduce the costs of many of the other things that person would buy.

    The biggest problem is that much of the wealth which is generated is gobbled up by governments, who then redistribute it in ways which are fundamentally destructive. Offering to support people as long as they refrain from trying to escape poverty is fundamentally evil, but that’s what the Dependency Party wants to do. Punish productive people, and reward only those who accept dependence.

  40. #40 |  Other Sean | 

    Leon #35,

    This is very well covered by Henry Hazlitt. You can’t just look at cases where a laborer was entirely replaced by a piece of capital. You have to look at the laborer who was employed in making that piece of capital. You have to look at the goods made available by it (most of them consumed by, you guessed it, laborers). And above all you have to look at all the innumerable cases where capital has improved the productivity of laborers instead of replacing them.

    Otherwise you’re just pining away for a return to 1720. No one had to worry then about the menace of capital crowding out labor.

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