Tuesday, 11 February 2014

What's the inequality problem?

Inequality is a big issue these days. Lots of people are struggling to understand what it means, and what that might mean for public policy. The occupy movement, which was itself a response to the GFC, is probably responsible for much of this current wave of awareness.

Media attention is fickle though, and judging by some of the crap that gets coverage this inequality thing could all just be a non-issue media beat-up - amirite?

Yes yes, it could be. But "the media" do get it right sometimes and symptoms should be checked out anyway. The road from issue to policy is long & winding though. 

Problem definition is the first step on that road. It is tempting but foolish to jump to solutions. Following the spirit of Ernest Rutherford, we need to start by thinking hard about the problem. So let's have a go at inequality, specifically income inequality.

Income inequality has increased significantly in the USA (recently) and NZ (ages ago). Redistribution policies via the tax and welfare systems must have softened the blow, but it was still a biggie. That's my assumption. 

So what asks Paul Walker, twice, eager to profess ignorance though he obviously reads widely. Why should we care about inequality?

Poverty is one answer. Unless the whole country grows fast enough, an increase in inequality will push some into poverty. How sure are we that the worst-off citizen has a better deal now than they did before? If you take a Rawlsian view, progress has not happened unless the worst-off are better-off than they previously were.
Ghost of Paul Walker: "Oh, but anyway, that doesn't matter. Because (a) consumption, not income, (b) poverty is relative, (c) social mobility, and (d) let me take another look; I'm sure there's a 'd' down there somewhere."
Get the idea? In the immortal words of the Dude, there are "a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous."

I agree, and they need to be considered, otherwise we'll stuff up the policy response. So let's do that. Paul is quite right to insist on rigorous analytical standards. Policy changes definitely should be properly analysed/justified.

But even while this is (hopefully) going on, let us notice that the multi-dimensional nature of "inequality" presents a huge challenge to analysts, for two reasons
  • it's complicated - causes and effects of inequality are both relevant; and
  • serious analysis might be revolutionary. 
Regarding the latter point managerialism is endemic, and it drives inequality in two ways:
  • by stretching out the top end of the income distribution; and
  • by suppressing bottom-end wages to enhance shareholder returns & justify managerialism.
So here's the deeper issue. Once you start thinking seriously about inequality, you will end up asking some very fundamental questions about how our society is organised and whether that should change. It seems to me that a proper inquiry into inequality would raise revolutionary questions.

So I'm not surprised that Paul doesn't want to talk about it, but I also think this attitude is unbecoming of anyone claiming to practice the virtues of economics. I get that you might just not care, but don't go suggesting that there's no argument when you haven't even thought about it seriously.

Also, kudos to Matt and Bill who both sense there is something interesting in here.


  1. I'd thought that Paul was asking why we would care about inequality per se rather than about poverty. If poverty is why we care about inequality, why shouldn't we just care about poverty? Or, in a world in which you get your preferred policies to deal with poverty, is there any remaining reason to care about income inequality?

    I also wonder why it's *income* inequality that has folks so fired up when there are plenty of plausible other inequalities worth worrying about that aren't sufficiently strongly correlated with income to address them through income measures. For example, ugly people have way worse dating prospects. I remember seeing data from OKCupid that moving from low to high on attractiveness had the same marginal effect on dating as getting something like $150k more in annual salary. Would you rather be a poor musician who dates easily, or a hedge fund manager putting in 16 hour days and utterly unable to date? I'd pick the former, but transfers run from the latter to the former.

    1. My name is Becky Ross , from chicago, I really want to testify to the good work of Dr. Tanasia for what he has done for me . couple of years ago, my husband left home after we had little misunderstanding, he never returned, no phone calls, no letters, no emails and no sign of him anywhere.and at the same time My daughter got sick so ill, things were so tough for me. I had lost hope, 2 years ago, i met a psychic, he said he would help me, i give him a try but all to no nothing happened, i lost hope completely, my daughter's situation got worse each day. Last month, i saw a posting concerning the good works of the Spiritual professional(Dr. Tanasia), i told the great woman my problem and she told me that there is nothing to be worry about for me contacting her all my problem is solve .. She asked me to provide the spiritual materials needed to cast the spells and of cost which i did (Bring Lover back, Healing spell and Career spells). In a matter of weeks, my husband called me and told me he was sorry and that he wants to come back to me and that he would explain everything when he comes back, three days later, i got a call from the new job i apply for, with an Real Estate company, right now, my daughter's is finally healed. I want to thanks DR.Tanasia,for what she has done for me and my family. you can contact her via email: tanasiajobs210@gmail.com, She is the solution to all problem. i no you are going to be the next to share your testimony to people. Warm Regards..

  2. Hi John,

    A couple of references you might find interesting -



  3. Hi,

    I suspect Paul is saying "let's not treat some measure as a silver bullet solution to the worlds ills". He is 100% right in this view.

    The key things economists should be doing are articulating trade-offs, and articulating them in a way that captures the essence of what trade-off exists. Doing so on the basis of synthetic aggregates like GDP and income inequality is unbecoming - they are symptoms that bear only a functional relationship to what we do care about, social welfare!

    However, a lot of what we see is people using static measures of statistical dispersion and acting as if this captures the "truth" of fairness. Such an attitude, without careful thought on mechanisms and the translation to social welfare, is likely to lead to bad policy!

  4. I'm hearing fervent agreement that inequality is a multidimensional set of symptoms, and that the underlying problem(s) are still eluding definition.

    Thanks Jeremy for the links & Eric for the example.

    Matt: I think you'd agree that economists can't be of any help at all until there is a clearly defined/articulated problem. Let's ignore the tossers and get started on problem definition.

    1. Indeedy - and I suspect that we will run into a "myriad of problems" which we will need to articulate through trade-offs. And I'm good with that - ultimately that is what economists dream of trying to articulate in the first place! Glad to see the amount of movement thinking about these issues is getting on NZ economics blogs.

      I'd just say that I read Paul's post as saying almost exactly the same thing you are - before saying we should "solve" anything lets define what the problem is :)

  5. Cheers Matt. I look forward to more discussion on this topic.

    It is interesting how others read Paul's posts. I got the strong impression he was saying "this inequality stuff is all crap and I can't figure out why anyone sensible would waste their time on it".

    If so, that leads to the same place as us (problem definition), but he arrives with very different plans (rock throwing rather than wrestling with the issues).

    I would love to be proved wrong, and will be keeping an eye on Paul's site to see if he does get constructive.

  6. Dr. Olorun Oduduwa I love to be on your testimonial page to spread my happiness. Your hard work and effort is greatly appreciated especially from me. My boy-friend is back home. We are back together. He pick me up from my station today. I haven't saw him in 6 month. I wasted so much time with other spell casters and should have stuck with you originally. You are a truly gifted spell caster and I just wanted to take the time to show how you and tell the world how grateful I am"thanks to Dr. Olorun, contact him if need his help on how to bring back your lost husband or boyfriend to your heart again on; Olorunoduduwaspiritualtemple@gmail.com

  7. My name is Elizabeth, From USA ,and I’m happily married with a lovely husband and three children.I had a very big problem with my husband few months ago,to the extent that he even packed his things away from our house. He left I and and my kids for almost 5 months,and i tried all my possible best and effort to bring him back.I discussed it with a very good friend of mine,and he gave me an advice concerning a spell caster, that he is the only one that can handle my situations and problem,that he’s always ready and able to do anything related to spell casting and helping of the needy, Please every every one i would like you all to contact him with his email address,which is as follows.”orikiolodumarespelltemple@gmail.com". I never believed in spell casting,but My friend convinced me and i had no choice than to follow my friend advice,because i never dreamed of loosing my lovely Husband. And i contacted him with his email address,and i discussed with him all my problems and worries and so surprisingly,he told me that I’ll get my husband back a day after. I didn't believed Him, until when i got home,the next day,my husband called me to inform me that he is coming back home…..So Amazing!! That’s how i got my back through spell casting and our relationship was stronger than ever. One of the price i was asked to pay was to tell it to the people around me that problems like this,can always be solved by Dr. Olodumare. So! my advice to you out there is to visit this same E-mail address,and tell him your problems too,if you are in any condition related to love issue or getting your ex back or and problem at all, please Contact him and have a happy life. you can contact him via email (orikiolodumarespelltemple@gmail.com )

  8. I’m Mercy brown by name I have a few testimony to share with you all about myself, I was in a relationship with this guy and for 3years and we were about getting married when we both have misunderstanding with each other and he ask me for a divorce and we both agreed and after 4months I head that he was having an affair with one of my closest friend and I was very upset and worried so a friend of my advice me and told me if I still love my ex and if I really want to have him back so I told her yes, and she ask me to contact Dr. Madurai the spell caster and I did although I never believe on spell so he gave me something when he was casting the spell and ask me to say my wishes on it and after the casting of the spell a receive a phone call from my ex and was ask me at which I did and now we are back together again I’m so happy and I wish not to ever have this mistake again in my life. I will also advice anyone with this kind of issue to contact him for help he is really nice on phone and always there to answer you question giving you the good advice that you need. his email is maduraitemple@yahoo.com

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. HELLO!!!!!
    I am Racoba Sly, When I eventually found testimonies about this spell caster Dr.OGUDUGU, how he helped many people to get their lovers and broken homes back, i contacted him through his email address greatogudugu@gmail.com because I was absolutely desperate to get my wife back. Life without my wife was a real mess for me and my children. i wanted a dramatic change and I thought magic could be the solution. After discussing the resolution with Dr OGUDUGU, he gave me hope that he will restore my marriage. I felt confident that he will actually make my wife to return home and he did! It’s fantastic what this great spell caster have done for me, his help is priceless! I don’t know what I would have done without Dr.OGUDUGU he does his job so well he is organized and highly functional, i believe he is the best spell caster i can count on when it comes to all kinds of spell, I was floored that his spells worked, if you need help, contact him on greatogudugu@gmail.com or website http://greatdrogudugusolutiontemple.webs.com/
    Call him (+2348142250751)

    1. Getting your lover or husband back
    2. Spiritual bulletproof
    3. Training
    4. Money spell
    5. Long life spell
    6. Prosperity spell
    7. Protection spell
    8. Get a job spell
    9. Becoming a manager spell
    10. Get a huge loan without paying any fee spell
    11. Getting your scam money back
    12. Child spell
    13. Pregnancy spell
    14. Freedom spell
    15. Love spell
    16, vanishing spell
    17. Invisible human spell
    18. Success or pass spell
    19. Marriage spell
    20.Lottery/lotto winning

  20. My Husband broke up 6 months ago and left me heartbroken, this made me sick and my problem became very very difficult and it made me almost gave up but after the love spell from Dr.mack, my relationship was restored instantly, I was happy that the outcome was fantastic, only 3 days after Dr.mac@yahoo.com started it all. Never in my life have I thought this would work so fast. My man reconcile with me and he started acting completely different, I feel happy once again, and like never before. It felt so good to have my lover back again.you can reach Dr.Mack on Mobile +17733035965..

  21. I never knew people still have powers and make things happened this way. my Husband James Scot left me for another woman for three months' ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love who disflowered me when i was 21 years old. about two years ago, A friend of mine rose donly told me he saw some testimonies of this great priest tokubo that he can bring back lover within 24 hours, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great priest on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after 24 hours my boyfriend is going to call me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through. i still can't believe it, because it highly unbelievable it just too real to be real. Thank you priest tokubo for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for any one who might need the help of this great priest here is the email address: highpriesttokubo@gmail.com

  22. My name is Steven Linda from Scotland want to testify about a great spell caster that help me cast a spell that bring my husband back to me without any delay. I broke up with him with just little misunderstanding hoping we will get back shortly,but things was growing worse until i contacted Dr.Manbela who help me with his historical powers to bring him back, i have never believed in a spell caster until i come across him, it will be of great sin if i should go out from here without dropping the contact of this great spell caster, in case you need the help of this great spell caster you can contact him through his email: once you contact him all your problems will be over ,once again i say very big thanks to you sir for helping me to recover my husband back, and please sir keep your good work because people need your help and in their lives,once more thank you Dr Manbela

    Have a good day.

    contact him via; manbelaspelltemple1@gmail.com or his whatsapp number +2348100929597 or through his web: https://manbelaspelltemple.wixsite.com/manbela

  23. My boyfriend broke up with me a week ago. We dated about 4 months. I did everything for him whenever he needed help with something, I love him so much and cared about him a lot. I never asked anything from him. I have no kids and a good well paying job. Everything was so perfect and good between us. He told me he would take me ring shopping and we would settle down and have a baby together. Everything was great. We met each other families and everyone told us we were perfect for each other. Out of nowhere he surprisingly left me to be with another girl, so i met a friend who gave me this Phone number +2349037990322 of this spell caster tokubo to contact him, i contacted him because i was so heartbroken and don't know what to do with myself but after 3 days of contacting Mr tokubo, my lover came back to me. if you want your ex or lover back you can call him with that phone number or add him up on whatsapp because he on whatsapp with that phone number above.or email him: highpriesttokubo@gmail.com

  24. Why are people still finding it difficult to get their ex back when someone like priest tokubo is there to help them. My boyfriend broke up with me a week ago. We dated about 4 months. I did everything for him whenever he needed help with something, I love him so much and cared about him a lot. I never asked anything from him. I have no kids and a good well paying job. Everything was so perfect and good between us. He told me he would take me ring shopping and we would settle down and have a baby together. Everything was great. We met each other families and everyone told us we were perfect for each other. Out of nowhere he surprisingly left me to be with another girl, so i met a friend who gave me this Phone number +2349037990322 of this spell caster tokubo to contact him, i contacted him because i was so heartbroken and don't know what to do with myself but after 3 days of contacting Mr tokubo, my lover came back to me. if you want your ex or lover back you can call him with that phone number or add him up on whatsapp because he on whatsapp with that phone number above or email him on: highpriesttokubo@gmail.com

  25. After being in relationship with markiss for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: drosemudiamenspellhome@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. I CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM, HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS: drosemudiamenspellhome@gmail.com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEM

  26. Hello friend please read it to the end is my relationship life story. I had a problem with my husband six months ago,which lead to us apart. When he broke up with me,I was no longer myself,I felt so empty inside .Until i went online to search for a spell caster that will help me get him back and along the line i came across seeral testimonies written about high priest tokubo which a woman said he helped him bring her husband back, another person said he helped him to get his girlfriend back so i decided to contact the man for help and I told him my problem and I did what he asked me to briefly do. to cut the long story short,Before I knew what was happening,not up to 24 hours,my bf gave me a call begging me for forgiveness to accept him back and she come back to me and told me he was sorry about what has happened, I'm so grateful to this spell caster and i will not stop publishing his name on the internet just for the good work he has been doing.If you need his help,you can email him at(highpriesttokubo@gmail.com) and he will also help you too. his name is tokubo.

  27. Do anyone still doubt natural herbs? I've seen the great importance of natural herbs and the wonderful work they have done in people's lives. I wonder why people still spend their money on surgery, injections and drugs each time they are sick. Natural herbs can cure all kinds of illness including herpes, diabetics, asthma, HIV, hepatitis, etc. I've seen it with my own eyes. I was cured of HIV and my aunt and her husband were cured of herpes by Dr. Baba Ogu who uses natural herbs to cure different kind of illness. Even Dr. Sebi prove to the whole world that natural herbs can cure all diseases and he cured countless of people using natural herbs. I know is hard to believe but am a living testimony. There is no harm in trying herbs. He is also a spell caster, he can cast a spell to restore your marriage back to normal, a good luck spell to prosper in life and excel in whatever you do in life. Contact or email Dr. Baba Ogu on: drbabaogu@gmail.com (phone/whatsap no): +2348137291215

  28. What a miracle to have my ex back,my name is mary benny and i need to share this great testimony... I just want to say thanks Dr gbojie for taking time to help me cast the spell that brings back my ex lover {now my husband},who suddenly lost interest in me after six month of engagement,but today we are married and we are more happier than never before, I am really short of words and joyful, and i don't know how much to my appreciation to you doctor gbojie you are a God sent to restore broken relationship.he deeply enjoy helping people achieve their desires, find true love,getting their ex lovers back,stop abusive relationships,find success,attract happiness,find soul mates and more,contact him today. and let him show you the wonders and amazement of his Love Spell System. He deliver results at his best in real spell casting,email him for help on gbojiespiritualtemple@gmail.com or gbojiespiritualtemple@yahoo.com you can also call him on +2349066410185 contact him on his websiite https://gbojiespelltemple.wordpress.com

  29. I never use to believe in spell powers until a friend introduced me to ( SOLUTIONSPELLTEMPLE@GMAIL.COM ) who helped me get my husband that has left me and our two (2) children for 3 years because we use to have regular argument and quarrels and use to always fight over his flirting attitude before we separated , but I was still having feeling for him because I loved him so much and the father of my children so I contacted ( SOLUTIONSPELLTEMPLE@GMAIL.COM ) , Just in 2 days I got my husband calling and begging for forgiveness and we are back together now and he cherishes
    me so much now and sees no one else but me alone , I believe he can help any body with similar issues . Contact him on SOLUTIONSPELLTEMPLE@GMAIL.COM. I am spreading this good news because I am happy about it. website: http://solutionspelltempl.wix.com/solutionhome

  30. Hello, My name is emilly, am from USA. I was diagnosed with HIV for close to 8 years, Dr Oboh Daniel of (drobohdaniel@gmail.com) cured me with natural herbal medicine. All i did was to order for the herbs for HIV, he sent it to me and ask me to drink it for a period of four weeks, but before the completion of the 4th week all the HIV symptoms disappeared, when i went for checkup, i became NEGATIVE. I've done close to 5 HIV test already, they all turned out to be NEGATIVE. He can also provide herbs for all kind of illness including asthma, cancer, Diabetic 1&2, Gonorrhea, Barrenness, Impotence, , High Blood Pressure,Epilepsy, Herpes, Chronic diseases of the heart, Malignant tumors,Diarrhea,Arthritis, etc. you can contact him via: drobohdaniel@gmail.com or whatsapp him on +2347035127032.......Goodluck