Income Equality

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Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:21 am

Good news for everyone I think....the recent growth in income inequality has not only lessened, if you include public transfers of wealth, it has actually reversed


There's good news on income inequality that nobody's talking about. The income gap between America's wealthiest and poorest people has generated a lot of attention and fueled a resurgence in left-wing activism and interest. But what hasn't grown in recent years is income inequality itself.

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) looked at U.S. income data from 1979 through 2014. For most of this period—between 1979 and 2007—the gap between the country's lowest and highest earners widened at a steady and relatively rapid pace.

This held true whether CBO looked at "market income" (employment and other earnings before taxes are taken out or public-assistance funds added in), income after taxes, or income plus government benefits (including social insurance programs like Social Security and means-tested programs like "food stamps").

In 2007, however, this trend came to a halt. After that, income inequality either grew much more slowly or even decreased, depending on how you slice the data. Measuring market income, the income gap was 3 percent higher in 2014 than in 2007 (compared to an average 1.3 percent increase per year over the larger period). With public benefits included in the calculation, income inequality actually shrank.



But by Strain's calculations, income inequality is waning, whether we use the CBO methodology or another estimate.

Another measure of inequality is more straightforward than the "Gini coefficient" used by the CBO, and considers only labor-market earnings. It begins by ranking workers by how much they usually earn each week. Take the worker who earns more than 90 percent of all workers. Now take the worker who only earns more than 10 percent of workers. Compare their earnings.

If the rich are getting richer, then "ninth decile" workers will earn increasingly more than "tenth decile" workers. This is exactly what was happening until recently. In the late 1990s, the ninth-decile workers earned about 4.5 times as much as the tenth-decile workers. This shot up to 5.2 times as much by 2012. But over the past six years, inequality has stabilized, echoing the findings in the CBO report.

Looking at household income data from 2014 alone, the CBO found that average yearly income among the lowest-earning quintile was around $19,000. Among the highest earners, it was $281,000. "Means-tested transfers and federal taxes cause household incomes to be more evenly distributed," the office reports.

In 2014, those transfers and taxes:

Increased income among households in the lowest quintile by $12,000 (or more than 60 percent), on average, to $31,000.
Decreased income among households in the highest quintile by $74,000 (or more than 25 percent), on average, to $207,000.






For those of you who prefer pictures and understand what the Gini coefficient is:

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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:31 am

Counterpoint from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.

Income Inequality Is Still Growing the Same as Always

Kevin Drum Jun. 7, 2018 11:11 AM

Over at National Review, Michael Strain chides Democrats for continuing to be obsessed with growing income inequality:

Income inequality has been growing at a much slower pace over the past ten years. Has anyone noticed? Beyond stabilizing, according to some measures, inequality has actually fallen since the beginning of the Great Recession.

Hmmm. The single best source for a quick but rigorous look at income inequality is the Congressional Budget Office. Their latest report on income distribution goes through 2014 and it looks like this:
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Technically, Strain is right. Compared to the beginning of the Great Recession, income inequality is down. But come on. It’s true that rich people took a big hit in capital gains income when the housing bubble imploded, but they’ve taken hits like that before and they’ve always bounced back. The same thing has happened this time. After a big loss, the rich began bouncing back almost immediately. Since 2010, their incomes have gone up by nearly half while the incomes of everyone else have declined. There’s no special reason to think this hasn’t continued since then. Most likely, income inequality in 2018 is higher than it was even at the height of the housing bubble.

There are ways to make this picture look better. If you include income from social welfare programs, incomes of the non-rich have been flat since the Great Recession, not down. Is that solace? Maybe a little, but not much.

Basically, the trendline showing the incomes of the affluent is an inexorable upward line since 1980 with a couple of spikes during the dotcom and housing bubbles. It just keeps rising and rising, and it’s still rising today. That said, I partly agree with Strain’s conclusion:

Part of the reason inequality features so prominently in the national conversation may have less to do with the rich and more to do with the lack of employment opportunities (until very recently, at least) and income growth experienced by many Americans….[Since 2007] median income grew by just 0.2 percent per year. It’s understandable to conclude, correctly or not, that others are doing better than you if your income is growing that slowly.

Whether the size of the gap matters more than the absolute economic condition of non-rich Americans is critical. Each implies different policy responses that are often in conflict.
If the gap matters, then policies that shrink it are good. For example, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and significantly strengthening labor unions may be good, because they will raise the earnings of many incumbent workers. But if we care about the economic condition of lower-income Americans, then these policies are counterproductive because they will reduce their employment opportunities. In the conflict between promoting income equality and increasing employment opportunities for lower-income Americans, I side with employment.

I agree that income growth for middle-class workers is ultimately more important than than raw income inequality. However, I very much doubt that labor unions and higher minimum wages are, on net, bad for the middle class. The disemployment effects of these policies appear to be pretty low, which the income-enhancing effects appear to be pretty large. I’m happy to consider other policies too, such as job subsidies, but the perfect should never be the enemy of the good. Nearly every policy worth its weight in white papers has some drawbacks. In the end I vote for all of the above: higher top marginal taxes, increases in the minimum wage, more union power, job subsidies, and anything else we can think of.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:39 am

When we get more recent #'s we can test his theory

interestingly enough his graph shows that the bottom quartile is growing much faster than the middle
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:49 am

Zarniwoop wrote:When we get more recent #'s we can test his theory

interestingly enough his graph shows that the bottom quartile is growing much faster than the middle

But it also shows where all the post recession economic growth is going.

Are you determined to ensure I get no work done today? :D
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:00 am

Mountaineer Buc wrote:
Zarniwoop wrote:When we get more recent #'s we can test his theory

interestingly enough his graph shows that the bottom quartile is growing much faster than the middle

But it also shows where all the post recession economic growth is going.

Are you determined to ensure I get no work done today? :D




The article I posted which relies on CBO data shows the opposite...since 2010 (post-recession) the gap is closing.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:21 am

Zarniwoop wrote:
Mountaineer Buc wrote:But it also shows where all the post recession economic growth is going.

Are you determined to ensure I get no work done today? :D




The article I posted which relies on CBO data shows the opposite...since 2010 (post-recession) the gap is closing.

Pardon me.

where most of the economic growth is going. "All" is an incorrect statement.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:51 am

I'm not entirely sure how that statement corresponds to the data I posted that shows the gap is closing...it's going to the top earners at less of a differential rate than it has in the past...which I think we would all agree is a good thing, no?

Its obvious that from a absolute perspective the wealthy will regain much more wealth after the recession than the poorest because they would have lost the most in the recession. And even if you are simply talking about income....if a guy makes $500,000 and gets a 1% raise, it's $5,000. If a guy makes $20,000 and gets a 2% raise, it's $400. Guy 1 got more absolute wealth even though guy 2 got a higher raise. Until guy 2 earns more than guy 1, guy 1 will always be accumulating more wealth.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby beardmcdoug » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:53 pm

Yep you ain’t gettin **** done :D
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Caradoc » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:28 pm

Income inequality and wealth inequality are completely different things. The actual difference in wealth between richest and poorest has been declining for about a century now.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:34 am

Caradoc wrote:Income inequality and wealth inequality are completely different things. The actual difference in wealth between richest and poorest has been declining for about a century now.

I'd love to see you try and prove that.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby PanteraCanes » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:51 pm

So I like to listen to different things on the radio. I have listened to so much music in my life that I like listening to a lot of talk radio now. Having to be without Sirius for a little while had me going around to different local stations to find things to listen to. I did find one person that I liked listening to for that short period of time in a financial show by Dave Ramsey. I don't know much about him or how legit he is.

Anyway, all this meandering brings me to a thing he said this morning. "Fair does not mean equal."

It was brought up in helping kids and step kids through college. Where you can be fair to try and help them but you don't need to be equal. Most of it came because this woman had done a lot of work to save for her own kids to get through college but her soon to be husband and his ex wife did not do the same. So it came about saying she can help them get through but since the other parties who are actually the parents did not do anything it will not be equal to what her kids will have. Either way helping them through is more than fair, but it is not going to be equal. I believe he had some other thing of if he arbitrarily gave one of his kids 100k and another 30k, it is not going to be equal but it is going to be more than fair. They both end up with a big chunk of money they did not have before for not particular reason.

It really felt like it hit home with life in general but also with some of the topics brought up around here.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Ken Carson » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:07 pm

A big debate I’ve been following recently is the one between equality of opportunity vs equality of outcome.

I think that many on the right go too far in minimizing the barriers to equal opportunity that exist, but many on the left are guilty of identifying inequalities while not being able to understand their causes. This leaves both sides inadequate to help, with the right being more or less indifferent and the left focusing on equality of outcome as a goal.

Ideally, the alleviation of inequality comes about through cooperative action, where both sides recognize their blind spots and work together. Of course that means listening to each other and not building a straw man to score cheap political points... so yeah, we’re fucked.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Caradoc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:52 pm

Mountaineer Buc wrote:
Caradoc wrote:Income inequality and wealth inequality are completely different things. The actual difference in wealth between richest and poorest has been declining for about a century now.

I'd love to see you try and prove that.


Only a moron could NOT see that. Or someone deliberately trying to not see it.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Ken Carson » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:59 pm

That’s not an argument...
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Caradoc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:00 pm

Ken Carson wrote:I think that many on the right go too far in minimizing the barriers to equal opportunity that exist, but many on the left are guilty of identifying inequalities while not being able to understand their causes.



I would argue that people on the right are pretty accurate in their judgement of the amount/power of barriers to equal opportunity and that people on the left, for various reasons, including - but not limited to - the second portion of your statement, vastly exaggerate the amount/power of those barriers.

Further, I'd argue that - based on a great deal of experience in this area - much more damaging than any actual barrier, is the exaggerated belief in the power of them.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Caradoc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:00 pm

Ken Carson wrote:That’s not an argument...


MB is asking me to prove the sun rises. Do I really need to explain?
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:02 pm

I’d like to see the #s. I don’t dispute what you say but I’d like to see the evidence
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:11 pm

Caradoc wrote:
Mountaineer Buc wrote:I'd love to see you try and prove that.


Only a moron could NOT see that. Or someone deliberately trying to not see it.

Then it should be easy to prove.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:22 pm

While I get that there is a ton of year to year variance in the 1% when it comes to income...I can see the other side in that wealth begets wealth.

Not many people care enough about themselves to understand how to save and invest money ... but generally speaking those with lots of money do
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Caradoc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:33 pm

Zarniwoop wrote:While I get that there is a ton of year to year variance in the 1% when it comes to income...I can see the other side in that wealth begets wealth.

Not many people care enough about themselves to understand how to save and invest money ... but generally speaking those with lots of money do


Hmmm. Sounds like pure coincidence that people with money would also be the ones who understand how to save and invest.

The funny thing about that, IMHO, is that both people from the left and right would read causation into that. If you are on the left, then, yeah, Investing/saving is something you learn if you come from money. From the right, yeah, investing/saving leads to having money. Strange world.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Caradoc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:34 pm

Mountaineer Buc wrote:
Caradoc wrote:
Only a moron could NOT see that. Or someone deliberately trying to not see it.

Then it should be easy to prove.



OK, I'll address it. Not tonight though, tomorrow.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:48 pm

Caradoc wrote:
Mountaineer Buc wrote:Then it should be easy to prove.



OK, I'll address it. Not tonight though, tomorrow.

Looking forward to learning not just about the steady decline of wealth inequality but how the barriers to higher income and wealth are not as real as those of us on the left think.

Would it help if I laid out some of the left's positions on this topic?
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:06 pm

Caradoc wrote:
Zarniwoop wrote:While I get that there is a ton of year to year variance in the 1% when it comes to income...I can see the other side in that wealth begets wealth.

Not many people care enough about themselves to understand how to save and invest money ... but generally speaking those with lots of money do


Hmmm. Sounds like pure coincidence that people with money would also be the ones who understand how to save and invest.

The funny thing about that, IMHO, is that both people from the left and right would read causation into that. If you are on the left, then, yeah, Investing/saving is something you learn if you come from money. From the right, yeah, investing/saving leads to having money. Strange world.


If someone doesn’t understand the basics of money management it’s on them nobody else. The amount of resources people have now is incredible

Wealth increases exponentially. It’s key to save and invest when you are young. I didn’t have a cell phone or cable till I was 35. Rather than spending a couple hundred per month on that stuff I bought properties. Best decision of my life

My first job paid me $25,200 per year (1996 in Indiana) and I was still able to invest.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:16 pm

Zarniwoop wrote:
Caradoc wrote:
Hmmm. Sounds like pure coincidence that people with money would also be the ones who understand how to save and invest.

The funny thing about that, IMHO, is that both people from the left and right would read causation into that. If you are on the left, then, yeah, Investing/saving is something you learn if you come from money. From the right, yeah, investing/saving leads to having money. Strange world.


If someone doesn’t understand the basics of money management it’s on them nobody else. The amount of resources people have now is incredible

Wealth increases exponentially. It’s key to save and invest when you are young. I didn’t have a cell phone or cable till I was 35. Rather than spending a couple hundred per month on that stuff I bought properties. Best decision of my life

My first job paid me $25,200 per year (1996 in Indiana) and I was still able to invest.

You ever put that $25,200 in an inflation calculator? Your first job in today's dollars paid $40,000 a year.

That's a helluva start.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:30 pm

Not for a college educated person. Our average senior last year made around 48K (which I think was below the national average). One kid got an offer from JP MORGAN that was over $90K.


If I had to do it all over and was only concerned about income and not quality of life (work/life balabce) I would major in finance not manufacturing
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:43 pm

I’ll tell you one thing we have lost in America IMO is the idea that a generation is willing to be “exploited” for their the next generation.

It used to be one generation would work in a steel mill and live meagerly so their kids could do slightly better. Their kids would join the services or go to college part time as they worked. In the hopes that their kids would do better and so forth.

I was the first one to go to college at 18 in my family. My parents made me bust my butt both athletically and academically in high school to get scholarships to college. Even so at college I had jobs as I played baseball (I knew I’d never be pro). My goal is to sacrifice as much as I can so my daughter doesn’t have to. I hope she can go to college and study what she wants without having to worry about getting up at 5:30 am to either work out for baseball or go for a job in winter.

I hope she sacrifices for her kids as much as I do and can give them more than I give her.


It sucks that some parents aren’t willing to sacrifice as much for their kids
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:06 pm

What was the saying by John Adams?

"I study politics and war so my children can study architecture and mathematics, so that their children can study art and music."

It was in the miniseries, and I suspect from his writings.

Anyway, these are all noble things you're talking about and in my own way, I'm teaching my kids to do the same thing. I want them to have the life of their design that improves upon my own the same way my father wanted for me.

The flip side is that my father taught me and my brothers what not to do by his actions. I love my dad dearly, but he was a fool. Just lucky enough to get a military pension while foolishly careening through life. Surviving today on the big green welfare machine and the financial benefits of old age. But I'll fight you if you suggest he never sacrificed or wanted what's best for me.

Point being, people come from all walks of life. "I did it, so can you" anecdotes dont go very far.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Zarniwoop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:14 pm

Mountaineer Buc wrote:
Point being, people come from all walks of life. "I did it, so can you" anecdotes dont go very far.



That’s where we fundamentally disagree. I don’t think I, or folks like me, are special in any way. I don’t think I was bestowed with any special gifts whatsoever. I’m fundamentally an average Joe. Neither my brain nor my brawn isn’t any better than anyone else’s.

I think anyone who makes good decisions in life (value education, value family, etc) still has this world by the balls because there are so many that don’t make good decisions (kids out of wedlock, screwing around in school, not trying to continuously improve their skills and knowledge, etc).
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:27 pm

Zarniwoop wrote:
Mountaineer Buc wrote:
Point being, people come from all walks of life. "I did it, so can you" anecdotes dont go very far.



That’s where we fundamentally disagree. I don’t think I, or folks like me, are special in any way. I don’t think I was bestowed with any special gifts whatsoever. I’m fundamentally an average Joe. Neither my brain nor my brawn isn’t any better than anyone else’s.

I think anyone who makes good decisions in life (value education, value family, etc) still has this world by the balls because there are so many that don’t make good decisions (kids out of wedlock, screwing around in school, not trying to continuously improve their skills and knowledge, etc).

I'll take it a step further and say that you can low level screw up (teen pregnancy, divorce, bankruptcy) and recover.

But I will say that you can do everything right and still end up broke.

There is no correlation between moral living and wealth accumulation.

See: Trump, Donald

They say luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. You advocate for preparation, I advocate for opportunity. We're both right. One is as important as the other.

But some folks seem to think opportunity is in abundance. It's not. And its more and more expensive to get.
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Re: Income Equality

Postby Rocker » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:48 pm

Mountaineer Buc wrote:
Zarniwoop wrote:

That’s where we fundamentally disagree. I don’t think I, or folks like me, are special in any way. I don’t think I was bestowed with any special gifts whatsoever. I’m fundamentally an average Joe. Neither my brain nor my brawn isn’t any better than anyone else’s.

I think anyone who makes good decisions in life (value education, value family, etc) still has this world by the balls because there are so many that don’t make good decisions (kids out of wedlock, screwing around in school, not trying to continuously improve their skills and knowledge, etc).

I'll take it a step further and say that you can low level screw up (teen pregnancy, divorce, bankruptcy) and recover.

But I will say that you can do everything right and still end up broke.

There is no correlation between moral living and wealth accumulation.

See: Trump, Donald

They say luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. You advocate for preparation, I advocate for opportunity. We're both right. One is as important as the other.

But some folks seem to think opportunity is in abundance. It's not. And its more and more expensive to get.


Opportunity is in abundance. Social stigma is driving the narrative in a completely false direction. There’s an actual, factual, dearth of skilled tradesmen jobs that pay just as much (and often more) than the job a BA or BS can land you.

It’s a damn shame that society looks so poorly upon blue collar jobs.
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