Skewed spread

laden thanksgiving table

 

Having recently enjoyed a bounteous Thanksgiving meal followed by too many pies and lots of nice leftovers, my thoughts turn to those living with food insecurity, either in far countries or in my own community. And then I consider income inequality, and am interested in learning more about the current state of affairs. Here’s a video that explains the situation in a way that helps me understand. I note that while the video is six years old, the trends discussed have only grown more pronounced in the intervening years.

 

Next, here’s a two-minute video on the US economy by a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, followed by an expanded discussion of the issue in Scientific American.

I was interested in the finding from the first video that people expect some inequality in the way wealth is distributed, and they don’t think that everybody should get an exactly equal portion of wealth pie. In this view, if some people get more than others, there’s a reason to strive, to seek for economic rewards. I can see that point–if the rich get plenty and the poor get less, but still enough to get by on, that’s not the end of the world.

 

 

But the current situation is vastly more unequal than that, with the very poor facing hunger, homelessness, compromised health and a dark future, while others are so rich that it’s a genuine challenge to think up ways to spend down their excess.

The folk wisdom is that there’s a silver lining to being poor–people pull together, and concentrate on the intangibles that make life worth living. In contrast, wealth can be a curse, with easy money fostering moral emptiness, selfishness souring relationships. Both those scenarios can be true, of course, but these views sound very much like the things that people tell themselves when they want to make sure that their own over-large piece of the pie isn’t threatened.

It’s quite easy to see the downsides for the have-nots, but there’s evidence to suggest that income inequality has disadvantages across the income spectrum, as it hampers economic growth overall and contributes to risky volatility. I’m sure there are other societal costs that I’m unaware of. And let’s not forget the spending exhaustion of the filthy rich. We ought to try to figure out a way to give them some relief.

 

woman with many shopping bags

 

Are you aware of sources that help shed light on the issue of income inequality?

 

[Images: happythanksgivingmessages.com, allhawaiinews.com, jenniferbrowerdesign.com]

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