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Is income inequality in the UK inherently bad? (POLL)

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  • View Poll Results: Is income inequality in the UK inherently bad?
    No
    58.82%
    Yes
    41.18%

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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    You're sort of assuming that I want to be a lawyer.
    So the name 'Aspiringlawstudent' and the fact that you're studying law at university are all just clever disguises for the fact that you're really planning to become a plumber after university. It all makes sense now. Very clever cover-up!
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    (Original post by HighestKungFu)
    Thanks for backing up your argument with empirical evidence. I suppose what you're saying here is in line with Winston Churchill's quote that "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." You have picked three poor countries (two very poor) to highlight places where misery is shared and there is little room for mobility, which is a fair point. However, Whilst those at the top in wealthier countries can help to pull others up, and yes sometimes wealth does 'trickle down', I think that in the U.S. and UK the power and position of those at the very top (the 1% in America, most of the Tories here+others) is being exploited at the expensive of others in society (usually the most vulnerable). This is clearly the case now with the current government, who continually batter the most vulnerable in society (the poor, the old, the sick) to better enhance the position of those who are already extremely privilaged.

    This I think is an inherent evil of capitalism, and regardless of what societies look like on paper with numbers and statistics, I think this is a true measure of civilisation. I'd rather our country have less money if it meant that more people were brought above the poverty line and the greed of the rich was circumvented.
    Well, I guess this is the point of philosophical divergence between the left and right economically. The left would see everyone poorer but equal, while the right would rather see everyone better off, if not proportionally so. As far as I can tell, the current government is not really interested in how rich the top end get, but rather care how many jobs they provide and how much tax they can get out of them, in that order.
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    (Original post by Logi)
    Um, I thought Japan and Sweden were well known for being very egalitarian countries? Can I see some proof that the converse is true? As far as I'm aware the gap between the richest and poorest, though rising, is still comparatively small in Japan and the increase is largely the result of the ageing population. In addition they have a tiny underclass compared to the UK or USA. Sweden does indeed have large differences in income but it is redistributed through high taxes and a generous welfare state.

    So yeah, could I get some sources that support your point please?
    If I'm going to be honest, I'll firstly have to say that these figures are from wikipedia, who themselves cite data from the UN, CIA and the World bank.

    The information is available here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ncome_equality
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    The problem isn't that the inequality exists.
    Indeed it needs to exist so people want to better themselves.
    The problem is when you have gross inequalities, like we have in this country, and what is even more the case in america.
    When some people "earn" millions (or even billions) - amounts of money that are just incomprehensible to the normal person, and others earn so little they are barely able to feed themselves / their family. That is where the problem is. When some people can afford multiple aeroplanes and luxury cars, when others cannot afford healthcare (in the US). When some people can afford multiple mansions while others have to live in a cardboard box on the street. Etc etc.
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    (Original post by chrisawhitmore)
    If I'm going to be honest, I'll firstly have to say that these figures are from wikipedia, who themselves cite data from the UN, CIA and the World bank.

    The information is available here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ncome_equality
    One of us is reading those figures the wrong way because to me they seem to support what I said. The countries with a lower GINI are more equal and Sweden has one of, if not the lowest score. They also have lower ratios between the average income of the richest 10% and the poorest 10% which again demonstrates a more equal society. Following your argument that would suggest that countries with more equal distribution of wealth have higher human development and quality of life indexes.

    Of course you need a base level of GDP for happiness. People who are dying of starvation and disease generally aren't particularly happy even if their neighbours are starving too. However, after a point it's much more important how equally these resources are shared than how much of it the country as a whole has because deprivation is relative.
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    I quite agree.

    I rather remember these remarks on that point in particular.

    What makes YOU think that income inequality makes everyone better off? It seems pretty obvious to me that if you took money from the rich and redistributed it to poorer people, the poorer people would be better off and the difference for the rich people would be negligible (a smaller fraction of their total income (than if you took the same amount from a poor person), not to mention that they would still have more than enough anyway). If this is continued until the rich people have 'enough' and little more, then there would be loads of money taken in by the state to redistribute not just to the poor, but to everyone. Total equality may indeed result in what Thatcher is talking about, but what I have described certainly wouldn't.

    I would also like to echo these comments:


    (Original post by Classical Liberal)
    Income inequality is all people go on about today. The problem with such analysis is that it looks at figures rather than people. Britain is phenomenally equal. The vast majority of people have access to hot running water, transport to take them around the country, television, ample food, the internet, toilets, clothes, education, healthcare and so on and so forth.

    Sure inequality of income exists, however the extra income that the rich have is for the most part spent on just having nicer things rather than living totally different lives compared to the less well off.

    The rich live in bigger houses, or drive faster cars, or have a better TVs, but they still essentially live very similar lives compared to the less well off. Particularly when you compare the conditions the poor used to live in in the past compared to the rich. It is remarkable how equal the UK is when you compare it to all of history.
    and add that we need a global perspective on how resources are allocated. True, people are generally more equal in Britain than in other parts of the world, but that begs the question why don't we redistribute wealth from Britain to poorer regions?
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    (Original post by When you see it...)
    and add that we need a global perspective on how resources are allocated. True, people are generally more equal in Britain than in other parts of the world, but that begs the question why don't we redistribute wealth from Britain to poorer regions?
    Because wealth is not "distributed" centrally by anybody. Wealth emerges through human cooperation.

    The reason other countries suck compared to the UK is because we have had largely free enterprise for generations. Basically, British people have been freer and thus have become wealthier and more equal for generations, as compared to crappy 3rd world countries.

    A society that put equality in front of freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom in front of equality, will get a great deal of both.
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    (Original post by Classical Liberal)
    Because wealth is not "distributed" centrally by anybody. Wealth emerges through human cooperation.

    The reason other countries suck compared to the UK is because we have had largely free enterprise for generations. Basically, British people have been freer and thus have become wealthier and more equal for generations, as compared to crappy 3rd world countries.

    A society that put equality in front of freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom in front of equality, will get a great deal of both.
    Sweeping statements with no proof.
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    (Original post by HighestKungFu)
    So the name 'Aspiringlawstudent' and the fact that you're studying law at university are all just clever disguises for the fact that you're really planning to become a plumber after university. It all makes sense now. Very clever cover-up!
    You do know only a minority of law students go on to be lawyers?
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    (Original post by When you see it...)
    Sweeping statements with no proof.
    The record of history is absolutely crystal clear. There is no system yet discovered in which the ordinary man prospers as much as in places where they have largely free enterprise.

    Look at all of the nations where you would like to live, you will probably find that these places have had some form of capitalism for generations.
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    (Original post by tom177)
    The Spirit Level
    http://spiritleveldelusion.blogspot.co.uk/

    I've seen that book raised a lot in these sorts of inequality discussions, so I'm interested in how you guys (if you or anyone else bothers to read it), will respond to all the criticisms of the book in that blog.

    It's not uncommon for 'scientists' to justify their positions using confirmation and selection and etc biases and reductionist statistical techniques.

    """The book will probably irritate most economists, including those like me who are sympathetic to its basic stance... source of irritation is the authors’ apparent belief that the application of regression methods to economic and social statistics is as novel to social science as it apparently is to medicine. The evidence presented in the book is mostly a series of scatter diagrams with a regression line drawn through them. If you remove the bold lines from the diagram, the pattern of points mostly looks random, and the data dominated by a few outliers... An obvious conclusion is that there are many societies which perform well in terms of their own criteria. America, Sweden and Japan are just different from each other. Their achievements are not really commensurable. But Wilkinson and Pickett are not content with this relativist position."""

    But of course, feel free to continue playing the victim all you want.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness

    -~ ***** ~-

    The only thing I dislike about capitalism and all that stuff, is the emergent fickleness caused by all the excess wealth and convenience produced by the system.
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    Income inequality isn't inherently bad and I'd go as far to say that income equality is undesirable. Freedom trumps equality.
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    (Original post by Arakasi 2.0)
    Income inequality isn't inherently bad and I'd go as far to say that income equality is undesirable. Freedom trumps equality.
    Why exactly is it undesirable?
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    Why exactly is it undesirable?
    Because the only way to ensure income equality is to limit economic freedoms.

    Personally, I've never understood why people are so obsessed with relative poverty measures. It's only absolute poverty that really matters.
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    (Original post by Arakasi 2.0)
    Because the only way to ensure income equality is to limit economic freedoms.

    Personally, I've never understood why people are so obsessed with relative poverty measures. It's only absolute poverty that really matters.
    I quite agree.
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    You're sort of assuming that I want to be a lawyer.
    Do you not?
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    (Original post by Arakasi 2.0)
    Income inequality isn't inherently bad and I'd go as far to say that income equality is undesirable. Freedom trumps equality.


    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    Why exactly is it undesirable?

    (Original post by Arakasi 2.0)
    Freedom trumps equality.
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    (Original post by usainlightning)
    Nah, it's just a tool used by the left to hide their own jealousy. What matters is the absolute living standards of society as a whole, not the gap between the richest and poorest.
    I'm not so sure about this any more. People are generally only envious and desiring of what they know is possible or available, so 1000 years ago we didn't have everyone sitting around in utter, hopeless despair because they didn't have our current lifestyles (which were unimaginable to them), just like today people aren't crying over not having whatever "life" may be afforded to our descendants in a few 100 years. Instead, they want what other people have already, or what is on the verge of being produced, what is available but just dangled in front of their faces. They're envious of existing lifestyles.

    As I mentioned in some other threads, we'd be hard pressed to really think that we as a people are happier and more content today than we were in the past. Considering just how absurdly far advanced our technologies are compared with even living memory it doesn't seem to have made very much difference.

    *shrug*

    (Original post by tom177)
    I actually wrote a bit about the book in a very recent essay. Feel free to criticize my work, I know it isn't brilliant, but I hope you get the jist of what I'm trying to explain here.
    I will say that it is a must read if you want to find why equality is better for everyone. Also there are graphs in the book (on almost every page) giving official statistics and evidence. (The USA is top of income inequality and the UK is 3rd).
    This is strangely written. What level of study is it for? You may employ me as a proof reader if you wish.


    (Original post by Classical Liberal)
    Income inequality is all people go on about today. The problem with such analysis is that it looks at figures rather than people. Britain is phenomenally equal. The vast majority of people have access to hot running water, transport to take them around the country, television, ample food, the internet, toilets, clothes, education, healthcare and so on and so forth.

    Sure inequality of income exists, however the extra income that the rich have is for the most part spent on just having nicer things rather than living totally different lives compared to the less well off.

    The rich live in bigger houses, or drive faster cars, or have a better TVs, but they still essentially live very similar lives compared to the less well off. Particularly when you compare the conditions the poor used to live in in the past compared to the rich. It is remarkable how equal the UK is when you compare it to all of history.
    Good point, worth remembering. Quite what the rich have that the "poor" do not is hard to say. I guess it's largely about status and influence. The bigger, faster, shinier possessions surely get old fast and provide no lasting satisfaction - though most underpersons don't realise or accept this.
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    You do know only a minority of law students go on to be lawyers?
    The suspense is killing me - what is it that you plan to do after university then?
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    I imagine it's more a bell-curve than anything.

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