Saturday, January 29, 2011

So where's the outrage?

Not here apparently. According to the CIA World Fact Book and a blogger known as "Washinton's Blog" the U.S. actually has a higher rate of inequality than the Egyptians or the Tunisians. While this does not mean that the populations of either country live a more luxuriant lifestyle than the average American, it simply means that the gap that divides the wealthiest from the poorest is wider here than in those countries and continues to do so. Yet Americans are not the ones to rise up in protest. At least not yet...

naked capitalism


Guest Post: Inequality In America Is Worse Than In Egypt, Tunisia Or Yemen

Egyptian, Tunisian and Yemeni protesters all say that inequality is one of the main reasons they’re protesting.
However, the U.S. actually has much greater inequality than in any of those countries.
Specifically, the “Gini Coefficient” – the figure economists use to measure inequality – is higher in the U.S.
Gini Coefficients are like golf – the lower the score, the better (i.e. the more equality).
According to the CIA World Fact Book, the U.S. is ranked as the 42nd most unequal country in the world, with a Gini Coefficient of 45.
In contrast:
  • Tunisia is ranked the 62nd most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of 40.
  • Yemen is ranked 76th most unequal, with a Gini Coefficient of 37.7.
  • And Egypt is ranked as the 90th most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of around34.4.
And inequality in the U.S. has soared in the last couple of years, since the Gini Coefficient was last calculated, so it is undoubtedly currently much higher. (Emphasis on this sentence is the bloggers)
So why are Egyptians rioting, while the Americans are complacent?
Well, Americans – until recently – have been some of the wealthiest
people in the world, with most having plenty of comforts (and/or
entertainment) and more than enough to eat.
But another reason is that – as Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School demonstrate – Americans consistently underestimate the amount of inequality in our nation.
As William Alden wrote last September:
Americans vastly underestimate the degree of wealth inequality in America, and we believe that the distribution should be far more equitable than it actually is, according to a new study.
Or, as the study’s authors put it: “All demographic groups — even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy — desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.”
The report … “Building a Better America — One Wealth Quintile At A Time” by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School … shows that across ideological, economic and gender groups, Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent.

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