Sunday, September 19, 2010

"United States of Inequality".. continued

That dude over at Slate keeps cranking these articles out, and I just keep reading them. He has 10 articles out in this series (United States of Inequality) so far, and frankly I hope it is complete, because each of these articles are monsters... but I can't stop reading them. They have an obvious political slant that is contrary to my own, which, for some self-torturing reason is why I can't stop reading.

In the 7th article, he hit upon what I wanted to know... "Income inequality did increase through the aughts (2000-10), but that was because incomes soared at the tippy top of the income-distribution scale. It didn't increase because less-skilled workers got squeezed—or rather, it didn't increase because less-skilled workers got squeezed any more than they did during the previous two decades. At the very bottom, incomes actually edged up slightly."

Shoot, if the poor are not getting poorer, it seems to me that it is more an academic curiosity than an actual problem. Of course, it is always worthwhile to strive for greater wealth for all, and seek to institute policies to encourage this.

I still want to know what happens to the incomes during the "Great Compression" and other times of greater income equality. If the times of income equality coincide with overall increased incomes, then I am all for it... but if those times only show less wealth for the upper tiers, then I think striving for them is a waste of time. We have been studying the time of inequality, but I think a look at the times of equality would be equally useful. Pushing the high end down for equality's sake is a poor and dishonest replacement for pushing the lower incomes up for equality's sake... which is a much more difficult task.


The 9th article has a statement at the end that will be the fuel for a future blog post..."In a broad sense, then, we all created the Great Divergence, because in a democracy, the government is us."

I could not agree less with this statement. There are so many wrongs in this statement that are so common that it needs to be addressed. I have seen this statement circulated a lot lately the last couple of months....Firstly, we are not a freaking democracy!!! We are a representative republic. It is so important that we all understand the difference... and the government is not us, especially when they vote for crap that a large majority of the people disapprove of!! Did you send $800,000 to teach Africans how to wash their genitals? I know I didn't!! That was the government, not me. I did not vote for that. There is a difference!!


Pol 242

Also, I found a syllabus online for a political science course that looks really interesting. I do not know how I happened upon it, but most of the the readings and videos are available online, so I am following this course from home, minus the exams. So far it is pretty fun and interesting. Just finished week one...

9/2: What is science? What is political science?
READING: Bearak, “Why People Still Starve,” New York Times Magazine.
READING: Haber, North, and Weingast. 2002. “The Poverty Trap.”

FILM: “The Mind’s Big Bang

I do not really know why the video is included in the curriculum and seems a bit unrelated, but is very good. It is very much like a NOVA episode, if you like crap like that... which we do. I found out last night that the syllabus is from Hope College, which is not all that far away. I thought that kinda funny! If it is particularly good, maybe I can drive over and meet the professor.Also, found a very interesting BBC documentary in the YouTube sidebar while watching "The Mind's Big Bang", it is called "Dangerous Knowledge". It is about four genius mathematicians that drove themselves insane. (Should be very uplifting) So far it's pretty sweet, I am learning about Georg Cantor and his search for Infinity.

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