The challenge of relative inequality

/ 16 November 2012

Now that the hot air has blown away, and the clouds of rhetoric have disappeared a bit, it’s worth going back to notice the real problems this country faces. One of which is an ever growing divide between the rich and the not-rich. Have you seen Richard Wilkinson’s TED talk about relative inequality? If not, I urge you to take the 20 minutes to watch it ( I’ll embed it below).

Part of his point is that even the very rich in countries that have big gaps between the rich and the poor have poorer outcomes overall (health, social elements, etc.) than do the rich in countries with smaller gaps. It doesn't matter if he is talking about the US overall in comparison to other highly developed countries, or specific states within the US compared to each other. He also argues that it doesn't matter whether the gap is closed by redistributing wealth via tax policies, or by ensuring that income levels have less variance. I am even more perturbed by how often in Wilkinson's various graphs the US is the outlier, the country on the far end of the list.

Today I was looking at this graphic, which points out how wide the income gap is becoming in specific states. This huge gap is what we need to find ways to start easing. It has not been this large since 1967. State income inequality