Previous posts in this discussion:
PostInequality of Income (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 08/06/12 6:35 am)
In response to Richard Hancock (5 August), I strongly believe in reward for performance and in making people work for what they get. But let's try to extend that concept to include wealthy people who don't do much but still get paid huge salaries and bonuses through manipulation and sometimes fraud, many times even when they run their companies into the ground.
Also I can not disagree with Richard's last statements, but just wish he had not totally forgotten to even mention the obscene increase in income inequality so detrimental to democracy, the crazy notion that corporations are people and thus can buy government elections, the huge taxpayer expense for corporate welfare, the constant assault on working people by corporations which, to increase their profits, trade American jobs for cheap foreign goods of lower quality, produced with no regard for labor, environmental, and consumer protection laws.
That would make Richard's posting a little more balanced.
Inequality of Income
(Bienvenido Macario, USA
08/07/12 5:55 AM)
Tor Guimaraes wrote on 6 August:
"In response to Richard Hancock (5 August), I strongly believe in reward for performance and in making people work for what they get. But let's try to extend that concept to include wealthy people who don't do much but still get paid huge salaries and bonuses through manipulation and sometimes fraud, many times even when they run their companies into the ground.
"[I wish Richard] had not totally forgotten to even mention the obscene increase in income inequality so detrimental to democracy, the crazy notion that corporations are people and thus can buy government elections, the huge taxpayer expense for corporate welfare, the constant assault on working people by corporations which, to increase their profits, trade American jobs for cheap foreign goods of lower quality, produced with no regard for labor, environmental, and consumer protection laws."
I'm a bit confused by Tor's post. It is as if there are no state and federal laws and government departments, bureaus, agencies and offices to implement existing laws.
Is Tor saying there are US Corporations that are suspected of breaking the law but could not be investigated? Or the laws are not adequate but Congress is not passing such laws, and therefore it is the fault of the private sector?
Congress has not passed a budget in over three years. What does Tor think about this? Whose fault is it that Congress has not passed a budget? A lack of lobbyists?
Istvan Simon (6 August) does not like NRA because they lobby for the constitutional right to bear arms. The Founding Fathers came up with the "right to bear arms" because at that time guns were indispensable to colonial Americans. Jefferson encouraged it as a check on tyranny by the government or Congress. A few years ago, Congressmen used to hold town hall meetings. But when constituents showed up in those meetings with guns, instead of consulting with the people before passing or debating a bill, they instead cancelled town hall meetings.
So maybe if there is a Congressional Inspector general's office, then maybe it'll be easier to push for better gun control or prevent guns falling into the wrong hands legally.
JE comments: After Colorado and Wisconsin, we'll hear some quiet Voices Crying in the Desert for stricter gun control. In an election year, nothing will come of it. President Obama especially won't risk the swing votes in hunting states (or the hunting votes in swing states?), such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. In the meantime, there will be lots of "thoughts and prayers."
Gun Control in US and UK
(John Heelan, UK
08/08/12 1:29 PM)
When commenting Bienvenido Macario's post of 7 August, JE wrote:
"After Colorado and Wisconsin, we'll hear some quiet Voices Crying in the Desert for stricter gun control. In an election year, nothing will come of it. President Obama especially won't risk the swing votes in hunting states (or the hunting votes in swing states?), such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. In the meantime, there will be lots of 'thoughts and prayers.'"
JE is probably correct from a political perspective. However, as a one-time advocate of gun control, I have sadly come to the conclusion over the years that gun control has value only as an expression of a social ethic rather than actually restricting the availability of firearms. The UK has strict gun control laws and punitive sanctions against those carrying them. Yet the "bad guys" have no problem in acquiring a firearms within minutes and at minimal cost. (Some adolescents in more socially deprived areas carry guns--or replicas--as fashion accessories to the swaggering gait, long t-shirts and baggy jeans copied from US gang culture.)
Gun control is acceptable in the UK because today the local social mores militate against the general available use of firearms. This might well change over time as the public becomes used to seeing, from time to time, specially trained armed police deployed in security situations. Many UK police officers are now being equipped with tasers for personal protection, in addition to the usual CS gas and collapsible batons.
The social mores are different in the US, due to the 2nd Amendment, the nation's pioneer history, higher level of personal risk from violent crime and (some say) a higher propensity for the general population to kill each other.
Nevertheless, although the situation in both the UK and the US is deteriorating rapidly, gun control per se will not resolve the problem: it requires a broader politic encompassing not only gun control and hefty sanctions but also restricting the spread of video games that encourage the use of violence in the impressionable. This politic would not be popular among certain segments of the electorate and the entertainments industry, and thus politicians would shy away from it, especially in election years.
JE comments: Yes. The only outcome I see from Colorado and Wisconsin is that Gov. Romney will tone down the "right to bear arms" rhetoric. Given the events of this year, there are no extra votes to be gained by implying that Obama will take away people's guns. (This has been the NRA's tactic since 2008--just read the American Rifleman; I often do at the gym--although to my knowledge the President hasn't taken away anybody's guns.)
- Inequality of Income (John Recchiuti, USA 08/07/12 8:44 AM)
Income and wealth inequality are indeed sharply skewed in the US, with the Gini coefficient on the rise over the last few decades (the after-tax Gini in 2010 in Great Britain was .34, in the US, .38--q.v. Wikipedia). The consequences of such income and wealth inequality do indeed have important consequences for democracy, culture, and more.
My earnest question is: where in human history has wealth and income inequality not been this severe, or more severe?
I was talking last night with a Chinese colleague about this. From my side I noted that in US history income and wealth inequality have been fairly severe (indentured servitude, slavery, later largely unregulated competitive capitalism with its 5.5-day work week and no minimum wage or maximum hour laws in the late nineteenth century in some sectors of the economy). My colleague nodded and said that across Chinese history, from his scholarly view, much the same is the case--a highly skewed distribution of wealth through history. (And from what I know of ancient Greece and Rome, and in medieval European societies, much the same is true.)
Income and wealth inequality aren't something I'd wish in a perfect world. In ours, however, I've come to think it is a consequence of capitalist markets (and pre-capitalist ones).
Progressive taxation certainly lowers the Gini (the before-tax US Gini in 2010 was .49), but I am just not clear what policies would keep both the dynamic and expansive elements of capitalism "firing on most cylinders" (kindle capitalists' animal spirits) while at the same time issue in a more equitable distribution of wealth and income. Overbearing government regulation really does, I think, dampen dynamic and expansive economic growth; while, of course, too little regulation (and/or misplaced monetary policy) can lead to bursting-bubbles.
I'm not sure there's either much light or heat in this post, but the this thread on WAIS, as all the others, is enormously appreciated.
JE comments: I think John Recchiuti is providing us some fruitful lux--we don't do "heat" on WAIS. We've let the Gini out of the WAIS bottle on several occasions, with our esteemed Chair, Cameron Sawyer, repeatedly pointing out its worthlessness for evaluating quality of life in a nation. Still, I am always drawn back to an observation I made on these pages years ago. Look at the rankings by nation, and the lower-Gini countries overall tend to be the ones you'd most like to live in.
Inequality of Income
(Henry Levin, USA
08/07/12 6:03 PM)
I am chagrined that the discussion of rising income inequality and cross-international comparisons seems to be unaware of all of the theoretical and empirical work on this subject.
The best modern authority on theory is probably the Englishman, Anthony B. Atkinson. However, the classic work is that of Simon Kuznets, who posited and measured an inverted U-shaped relation over the development span among countries with some evidence also found within countries. Basically, the inverted U purports to show that poor countries are relatively equal in income and wealth. As the economic output per capita grows, inequality rises. The usual explanation is that capital accumulation in this phase requires increasing concentration because equal distribution would result primarily in consumption, leaving no savings for investment. At some point the country becomes rich enough that more equal distribution of income and wealth manifest themselves as more individuals are able to save with their higher incomes and other economic institutions and government promote greater equality. This is an overly simplified picture, but there are many, many references to the inverted-U theory of Kuznets on the web as well as the work of Atkinson.
The major issue is why inequality is on the rise in the industrialized countries and especially the US when this goes against the Kuznets inverted-U. There are many economic explanations, of which none are satisfactory. The most common is that wealth and income are more heavily dependent today on human capital, and inequality in human capital (largely education) is rising. However, inequality of income within educational level has also risen enormously. It would be helpful for our WAIS members to refer to the recent and classical literature on this topic.
JE comments: Many thanks to Henry Levin for this helpful theoretical background. So why is our inverted "U" turning into an "N"? I'd say it has to do with the disappearing US middle class--but this seems to be the symptom of the problem, not the cause.
Inequality of Income
(Anthony D`Amato, USA
08/08/12 11:27 AM)
If there were such a concept called "academic fallacy," it might go something like this. First, tell your audience that there's a huge unsolved problem out there (like wealth inequality in the US). Second, chide them for not reading or referring to the classic works on the subject that are all over the web, for example the inverted-U theory of Kuznets. Third, explain to them what the inverted-U theory does. And finally, conclude by admitting candidly that the inverted-U theory completely fails to solve the problem we began with.
Many if not most PhD dissertations follow this four-step academic fallacy. So does, perhaps unintentionally, Henry Levin's post of August 7 chiding WAISers for not citing Kuznets or Atkinson.
If our topic is, for example, explaining the vast and rising economic inequality in the United States, I think we have to begin by questioning whether cherished institutions help solve the problem of inequality or help create it. In a recent post or two, I suggested two candidates that exacerbate the problem: government regulation, and corporations. I would like to be challenged on these two propositions (I have no stake in either of them other than intellectual curiosity).
Briefly, the market if it works purely will distribute to each person the value of his labor (including labor of the mind). This may not be economic equality, but it is distributional justice in the sense of "to each according to his desert." Government regulation is the enemy of this process. It creates artificial oligopolies and sometimes artificial monopolies by raising the barrier to entry.
Corporations, by aggregating wealth and focusing it on particular problems, create much of the technological progress that keeps unequal societies like the US afloat for as long as the technology keeps coming. (Several WAISers emphasized this role of technology.) If corporations just did their thing, they should be no more significant than the hammer or pliers in your tool kit (some might prefer the comparison to be the chisel or the screwdriver). But alas we call them artificial persons, as JE points out, and then we tax them. Poor people vote for politicians who want to sock it to the corporations. And rich people smile because they know that the corporate tax is deeply regressive. Reifying a corporation is where the error begins.
To explain: a tax on corporations, like the value-added tax in Europe, is 100% paid by the consumer when he consumes the corporation's product. The tax on corporations (or the value-added tax) makes corporate products more expensive in the US and Europe than it does in countries like China, which either have few corporations or low taxation rates for corporations. The tax on corporations can drive a corporation out of business because it cannot compete price-wise with Chinese or Indonesian or whatever corporations that are not taxed. (I'm not trying to comment on Asian economics, just searching for an example.)
When we notice that the top 1% of Americans are in the aggregate wealthier than the bottom 80%, we are talking about people, not corporate entities. So if we confine our attention to how wealth is distributed among persons, we have to look at everything in between the government and the people as intervening variables. We don't know how to quantify these intervening variables (and neither does Kuznets). But fortunately any attempt to measure them results in a distortion of the problem of wealth inequality that we began with. So simply lump them together: regulations, corporations, excise taxes, import duties, even progressive income taxes (so long as they are not so progressive as to morph into wealth taxes)--all of these intervening variables account for the mal-distribution of wealth in countries like the US.
JE comments: I'm still fuzzy on how eliminating corporate taxes could be a good thing (OK...a good thing for me). Do we really need, for example, cheaper consumer goods in the US? What we need is a larger demographic of wealthier consumers. Perhaps someone can walk me through eliminating corporate tax idea, on the "for Dummies" model of the popular yellow-and-black book series. (Colombia has a thriving "para dummies" series as well. Originally it was called "para inexpertos," but the Anglicism "dummies" has taken over.)
(Henry Levin, USA
08/08/12 4:02 PM)
Anthony D'Amato (8 August) seems to assert that an informed discussion leads to "academic fallacy" as a response to my suggestion that in the debate on the causes of rising income inequality it might be useful to read the original work of Nobelist Simon Kuznets, and Anthony B. Atkinson, as well as to familiarize ourselves with the current debate on the subject.
The debate over the causes of rising income inequality and many of the other challenges that WAISers are discussing might be assisted by reference to a rich literature which helps to frame issues and inform discussion. That is not the same as claiming that knowledge of the theory, empirical results, and of existing debate on the subject will automatically provide solutions (the "academic fallacy" of D'Amato).
I once co-taught a course at Stanford Law School with Professor Paul Brest. If we were talking about an "equal protection" issue in school finance, we found it useful to engage our students in the history of the Fourteenth Amendment, the interpretation of the "equal protection clause" and the basis for judicial scrutiny, as well as the arguments that had been posed for including or not including education in the "inner sanctum" of scrutiny as a fundamental right. I did not realize at the time that we were teaching an "academic fallacy," but I will have to reconsider.
JE comments: I've noticed a rise in the use of the "f-word" (fallacy) in WAISworld recently. Why might this be? In any case, I think Henry Levin's reference to Kuznets has been a very useful contribution to this conversation.
- Inequality of Income (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 08/07/12 6:19 PM)
When commenting John Recchiuti's post of 7 August, JE wrote:
"Look at the rankings by nation, and the lower-Gini countries overall tend to be the ones you'd most like to live in."
There may or may not be a correlation, but even if there is, why should we assume that a low Gini coefficient is the cause, rather than the result of a country's social success? It would be a logical fallacy to assume so, equivalent to: the great majority of people with cirrhosis of the liver are alcoholics, therefore, people become alcoholics because they have cirrhosis of the liver.
And I would say that, in agreement with what I think John Recchiuti is saying, those nice countries with a low Gini coefficient became highly developed economically first, so that they could afford a steeply progressive tax and other socialistic policies which promote equality. I think steeply progressive taxes, and indeed taxes with any degree of progressivity at all, do destroy economic growth and prevent economic development, and I think that there is considerable objective evidence that this is the case. If some countries choose to forgo a certain amount of wealth creation in exchange for greater equality and presumably social harmony--why not? But just taxing the wealthy to death is unlikely to achieve much--high incomes simply disappear or go elsewhere, "improving" the Gini index without helping the lower end of the socio-economic scale at all, "improving" the Gini index simply by destroying the upper end of the scale.
Now different people will have different ideas about what it means to "tax to death," but at a certain point, at least, we can probably all agree that high tax rates simply stop economic activity and destroy wealth, resulting in falling revenue and less, not more ability to help out people at the lower end of the scale. Where is the inflection point on the Laffer Curve? That is the big question.
I have written before, but won't be too shy to write it again: the Gini Coefficient does not directly tell us anything worthwhile about a society. The early Soviet Union during the War Communism phase had a nearly ideal Gini Coefficient. Was that a nice country? The Gini Coefficient tells us that a (hypothetical) society where everyone starves to death, but at least equally, is better than a (different hypothetical) society where the poorest people have a very high standard of living, where no one is allowed to fall through a robust social safety net, but there are a whole lot of billionaires. This is obviously absurd; only a truly vicious person could wish that everyone starved together, just so that no one is allowed to be extremely rich.
And so the Gini Coefficient is really unfair to the US, in particular, where the so-called working class have a very, very high material standard of life, compared to their counterparts even in other developed countries, even if the US falls far short of my second hypothetical society. If Bill Gates, for example, is allowed to earn and keep tens of billions of dollars, but in the process creates hundreds of thousands of highly paid jobs, creates thousands of millionaires, and increases the whole country's GDP by a percent or more, is this bad?
JE comments: WAIS Gini discussions usually go in this direction. So, apropos of nothing in particular, shall we talk about Equatorial Guinea? Huge per capita GDP, immeasurable Gini (at least I can't find it anywhere). I'd love to visit EG, but wouldn't want to live there.
Inequality of Income
(Alain de Benoist, France
08/10/12 5:17 AM)
Cameron Sawyer wrote on 7 August: "The Gini Coefficient does not directly tell us anything worthwhile about a society. [...] The Gini Coefficient is really unfair to the US, in particular, where the so-called working class have a very, very high material standard of life, compared to their counterparts even in other developed countries."
Cameron is right, but I fear that the conclusion he draws from this observation is not pertinent.
In the same ink of reasoning, one could say that the African-Americans of today should be very happy that their ancestors were enslaved and deported from Africa, because most of them enjoy now life conditions they would not know if they lived today in most sub-Saharian countries...
It is true that most of the poor people of the developed countries--of the US in the first place--have a socio-economic level which is still above the mean level of many countries of the Third World. But these poor people do not compare themselves with the poorest people of the poorest foreign countries. They compare themselves with the wealthy people of their own country, which they see around them or on TV. And they try to understand why, globally, in the country where they live, wealthy people are always wealthier while they are still poor (sometimes even poorer) themselves. In other words, the spectacle of inequality is as frustrating than poverty itself. It makes poverty appear more unjust. That's not only a matter of envy, but also a consequence of the mimetic desire as theorized by René Girard (and others before him, including Tocqueville).
Poverty is of course always relative. But poverty has both an objective dimension (which the Gini Coefficient helps to evaluate) and a subjective one. Subjective perception is not an "illusion." It is also a strong determinant for social behaviors and political aspirations. This should not be forgotten.
JE comments: Alain's comment makes me think of my late father, who grew up in a working-class Delaware home during the Depression. Since my grandmother worked as a cook on the DuPont's Winterthur estate, Dad got to see the harshness of inequality first-hand: he always spoke of the splendid toys, ponies and luxury accommodations of the DuPont children. Better Living through Chemistry?
Surprisingly, however, Dad never became an advocate of class struggle.
Inequality of Income; Affirmative Action
(Anthony D`Amato, USA
08/10/12 3:08 PM)
Alain de Benoist (10 August) makes a point that I think is interesting, but for a very different reason than the one he gives. He says:
"One could say that the African-Americans of today should be very happy that their ancestors were enslaved and deported from Africa, because most of them enjoy now life conditions they would not know if they lived today in most sub-Saharian countries..."
What is wrong with this statement--and hundreds of similar statements by WAISERS on ancestry and inheritance--is the "them" and the "they" in Alain's sentence. In fact it would not be "them" and "they" at all, but a very different "them" and "they."
To explain. Derek Parfit in 1976, in his publications on population, pointed out that any change in the environment or living conditions will produce a different human being from the one that would have been given birth if the conditions were unchanged. To quote myself from an article I wrote in 1990, "The particular sperm and egg cells from which any human being develops is a highly precarious fact; the slightest difference in the conditions of conception will probably result in fertilization of the egg by a different sperm. Hence, when the environment is disrupted even a slight amount, a different future person will probably be conceived. According to Parfit's thesis, our intervention in the environment will make a sufficient impact to assure that different sperm cells will probably fertilize the egg cells in all procreations that take place subsequent to our environmental intervention. Different people will be born from those who would have been born if we had not intervened in the environment."
I take this principle seriously; it informs my life's commitment to human rights. For example, in the first affirmative action case, University of California v. Bakke, Allan Bakke, a white male, was denied admission to Davis Medical School in 1973 in order to make room for a "special admissions person" whose entrance examination score was lower than Bakke's but who had the proper racial characteristics. I believed then and believe now that the one thing the Supreme Court did not look into was for me the deciding element: if the black American who got the place instead of Bakke was himself or herself from a disadvantaged family whose ambitions had been thwarted by racism, then I would accept affirmative action in this case. But if the black American came from a family of upper middle class doctors or lawyers or other affluent means, and had the benefits of excellent instruction at home and admission to the best schools, then I would not give such a person admission over Allan Bakke.
In short, I say: heredity and ancestry count for nothing. We take each infant and follow his or her life's trajectory, because if we start mixing in ancestry and assuming the person is owed something because of the ancestry factor, we make a category mistake. Instead, if society wants to compensate such a person for his or her disadvantaged upbringing, then that's society's choice.
JE comments: It's hard to believe the Bakke decision, handed down in 1978, is nearly 35 years old. I remember it vividly.
Anthony D'Amato's take on affirmative action is that it should take into account environmental factors, with social class trumping race or ethnicity. I seem to recall that the US Supreme Court is going to revisit affirmative action this year. What are the particulars of the case?
- Inequality of Income (Alain de Benoist, France 08/08/12 12:09 PM)
John Recchiuti wrote on 7 August: "Income and wealth inequality are indeed sharply skewed in the US, with the Gini coefficient on the rise over the last few decades (the after-tax Gini in 2010 in Great Britain was .34, in the US, .38--q.v. Wikipedia). The consequences of such income and wealth inequality do indeed have important consequences for democracy, culture, and more. My earnest question is: where in human history has wealth and income inequality not been this severe, or more severe?"
The answer is probably: nowhere. But there is a big difference. Contrary to ours, the societies of the past did not live in an ideological climate where equality was at the center of the dominant ideology. That's why frustration, disappointment and sometimes the will to revolt are much bigger today--and look more legitimate.
JE comments: I suppose that stability in a society is ensured by providing more equality--or (if I understand Alain correctly), eliminating the ideology of equality. Channeling John Recchiuti's "earnest question" of 7 August, here's another one: is natural inequality a pre-modern idea gone forever, or are we witnessing the gradual chipping away of the ideology of equality, via inflated CEO salaries, the dismantling of the welfare state, regressive taxation, the fetishization of entrepreneurship and the like?
- Inequality of Income (Tor Guimaraes, USA 08/09/12 9:46 AM)
John Recchiuti asked on 7 August: "... where in human history has wealth and income inequality not been this severe, or more severe?" Indeed, I believe in general mankind has come quite far in improving the living conditions for most human beings, even though people in some poor, war-torn nations are actually much worse off. Also, we still have slavery, child labor, poverty wages, bad products and services, environment pollution, poisonous food, uncomfortable airline seats, etc. We have no reason not to continue trying to improve the quality of life for all. The only questions should be, how and who should pay?
John Eipper, commenting on Alain de Benoist's post of 8 August, asked: "... is natural inequality a pre-modern idea gone forever, or are we witnessing the gradual chipping away of the ideology of equality, via inflated CEO salaries, the dismantling of the welfare state, regressive taxation, the fetishization of entrepreneurship and the like?" That is what any oligarchy would like to see.
As long as democracy is to remain functional, reasonable income equality will remain important. Brilliant theorists notwithstanding, income inequality is a powerful natural force, because wealthy people can hire the best managers, lawyers, accountants, politicians, bureaucrats, etc. That in turn will slowly undermine democracy, justice, social equality, and allow the privileged minority to increasingly treat people like a commodity. Laws and regulations are indeed risky, and effective laws are not easy to craft, but extremely important in many cases to stop the natural regression to oligarchy, monarchy, and dictatorship of some sort.
John Recchiuti stated: "Income and wealth inequality... I've come to think it is a consequence of capitalist markets (and pre-capitalist ones)." Income inequality always existed everywhere, under communism, socialism, and capitalism. More income for greater performance is a productive rule. Letting a free market decide who should get paid more or less is a fair proposition, as long as the market is not being manipulated somehow. And usually is, it is human nature. As a capitalist I will naturally always try to make more profits. The question is how far will I be willing to break ethics and the law, cut corners, or deceive consumers to maximize my profits. If I am a communist government bureaucrat I still have to answer the same questions regarding laws and ethics regarding possible bribery opportunities. The inequality may not be as sharp (not as admired) under socialism, but it is there.
Regarding John's question, "I am just not clear what policies would keep both the dynamic and expansive elements of capitalism 'firing on most cylinders' (kindle capitalists' animal spirits) while at the same time issue in a more equitable distribution of wealth and income. Overbearing government regulation really does, I think, dampen dynamic and expansive economic growth; while, of course, too little regulation (and/or misplaced monetary policy) can lead to bursting-bubbles." Precisely, that is why regulations must be carefully crafted: intelligent, flexible, and strictly enforced. Just like medicine, if it is not working stop it, modify it, or make it work to enable democracy, truly free markets, and reasonable income distribution. On these three pillars rest a continuously improving future for humanity. As John Eipper said about Gini coefficients: "Look at the rankings by nation, and the lower-Gini countries overall tend to be the ones you'd most like to live in." There is no controversy here. That is what is all about: better standards of living for the middle class.
Finally, Bienvenido Macario commented: "I'm a bit confused by Tor's post. It is as if there are no state and federal laws and government departments, bureaus, agencies and offices to implement existing laws. Is Tor saying there are US corporations that are suspected of breaking the law but could not be investigated? Or the laws are not adequate but Congress is not passing such laws, and therefore it is the fault of the private sector? Congress has not passed a budget in over three years. What does Tor think about this? Whose fault is it that Congress has not passed a budget? A lack of lobbyists?"
The government bureaucracy has been and is clearly getting paid for doing a very poor job with existing laws. Also, the corporations/top managers have "influenced" lawmakers not to pass laws they consider too restrictive or to change the laws so they can't be charged for breaking the previously effective laws. And yes, the media is full of stories about corporations/top managers breaking laws in many cases over the years and lately, i.e. during the last financial crisis.
Bienvenido asked: "Whose fault is it that Congress has not passed a budget and laws" that protect democracy, free markets, and a more fair distribution of income? Ultimately I blame the American people, including myself for not doing enough. People are too distracted, misinformed, or lazy to care about what is going on. Meanwhile their wallets are thinner, have lower quality of living, and their opinions are mostly ignored by their government. Further, we elect to govern too many ignorant, single-issue minded, ideological/religious zealots who are there to further their own agenda. Our own Supreme Court is also destructive of democracy for now allowing unlimited corporate money to influence elections. "A lack of lobbyists?" There are none pushing for the interests of the middle class and there are too many pushing for private interest groups. Guess who is winning?
JE comments: We love to hate lobbyists. So here's a question I've never asked: has anyone in WAISdom actually worked as one? (I don't think we have any active lobbyists in our ranks, but I'm not 100% sure.) Don't most lobbyists prefer to call themselves something different--like consultants? Facilitators? Discuss. We haven't subjected lobbying to a thorough WAIS analysis. Ever. As always, it would be good to widen our scope to include an international perspective.
- Inequality of Income (Alain de Benoist, France 08/08/12 12:09 PM)
- Inequality of Income; Affirmative Action (Anthony D`Amato, USA 08/10/12 3:08 PM)
- Inequality of Income (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 08/07/12 6:19 PM)
- "Academic Fallacy" (Henry Levin, USA 08/08/12 4:02 PM)
- Inequality of Income (Anthony D`Amato, USA 08/08/12 11:27 AM)
- Inequality of Income (John Recchiuti, USA 08/07/12 8:44 AM)
- Gun Control in US and UK (John Heelan, UK 08/08/12 1:29 PM)