The “Irrationality” of American inequality

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by alib, May 13, 2012.

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  1. On Open Source Dan Ariely on the “Irrationality” of American inequality
    My bold, interesting idea, move people away from the politics of soundbites and ask them detailed question about how they think the state should be? How united Septics are on inequality is heartening and its rather touching that their ideal state is one more egalitarian than any that exists.

    Ariely suggests a Sim like game where people can see the consequences of their policy choices, e.g. what it means economically and politically to have a population that is 60% functionally illiterate?

    Politicians just want sit up and beg voters that respond to key worded sound bites like a dumb bunch of Golden Retrievers rather than a population of careful and informed deliberators. I doubt many of our leaders actually have thought through such an experiment themselves and tested their preferred dogma against their rational preferences.

    Worth a listen.
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  2. That's a good post, Alib. Can't think of anything intelligent to say about it, but it's still a good post.

    I always scratch my head when trying to get my head around the US - I've never been there but I suspect Yanks are a great deal more 'foreign' than we realise.
  3. To quote the man, a 'poor' person in America has a higher standard of living than a 'rich' people in most of the rest of the world.

    And yes, America is a completely different planet.
  4. From Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time by Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely
    Ariely makes an interesting point, 21st century America is residential segregated by income level, the classes don't really mix so there is little awareness of how the other half lives.

    When asked if the poorest Americans should be helped the group most likely to respond negatively is not the rich, comfortable or getting by but the demographic just above the poverty line that also would stand to benefit from policies that helped the poorest. In psychology this is called "Last-place Aversion", this group are far from being consumed by jealousy of those richer them but by maintaining the narrow margin that separates them from those struggling beneath them, to the extent that they will make policy choices harmful to their own interests. I'd note this is founded more desperation than aspiration and is probably a key factor in the popularity of policies that look like class war conducted downward and the steady economically unhealthy rise in inequality.

    Given the structure of the lower demographics there is often a racial component at play here, in the US labor movement they used to talk about the Niggerization of white labor. This goes back a long way ""free labor" was a big driver in the Northern loathing of slavery, not out of sympathy for blacks, Yankee attitudes were often more fiercely racist than in Dixie but the reality of economic competition at the bottom of the food chain, its not coincidental that black living standards actually fell after abolition. It's offshoring of much of the US industrial base and the collapse of the unions in the US that probably has undermined the relative economic position of blue collar folk in the US more than anything else.

    The Economist has this Don’t look down on why soaking the rich with high taxes has limited appeal to the struggling than gentile liberals might assume
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  5. Oh I don't know I think you're both spouting socialist twaddle.
    Alib' why are you so fixated on the USA? Surely there are as many wrongs to be righted in the UK and the EU. Rampant mindless socialist beneficence has certainly worked wonders for Europe, hasn't it?
    BTW your slant on US sociology is so very last century.

    Micawber old boy, come on over - you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  6. Busterdog: I'm sure I'd have a fine time - I've always fancied doing some wide mouth Bass fishing as it happened - but I'm sure it rather depends on where I go.

    The Wire must have been based at least a little bit on reality.

    There is inequality in the US on an almost African level and it's going to be hard to deny that.

    I think the work described in Alib's post shows that individual septics are much more decent than the society they have produced.
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  7. Aw, shucks--we aint no differnt than y'all.
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  8. Except for the Southerners, it still creases me when I hear the relations in NC talk.
    Better than them goddamn Yankees any day.
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  9. I recommend going straight to ~14:20 or ~15:30
  10. A bit old news but anyway as in most things there are contrarian views of the significance of all this:

    and this:

  11. Apart from the language, clearly. ;-)
  12. Yes, because as the world knows all Englishmen speak like Sir Lawrence Olivier with perfect enuciation.

    British Accents - YouTube
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  13. Boss Hogg is that you?
  15. Well the march of folly in the US is just so much more amusing, the UK has some similar faults but you can beat the US for slapstick politics.

    The EU is so dull with what are mostly soberly run economies that produce waves of PHDs and relatively cheap services, what we can't get working is something like the Fed, to iron out the bumps in a largely capitalist economy or the idea of getting any control of an internationalized banking sector that thinks its Wall St but should not be let out nights. We are also not good at dramatic innovation which I put down to all those PHDs and grey technocrats inhibiting US style emboldened stupidity.

    Having been in the 60s the nearest thing to an egalitarian workers paradise in world history you guys manage to devise a system where the average Joe, works far harder than the lazily contented Germans in their lavish social state, the poor sucker in the US pays almost the same taxes as them, gets bugger all back for that, while being gouged mercilessly for basics like healthcare and education. Blue collar Krauts luxuriate in spas at the slightest hint of a headache while Septics burn out in a epidemic of anxiety disorders. To top it off have also perfected a stealthy varient of socialism based on sausage factories that provide comfort and shelter to the most privileged. It's almost Swiftian in the cruelty of its satire of Capitalism as envisaged by Adam Smith.

    What's interesting is the mismatch between apparent aspiration and realization, Americans are instinctively egalitarian and worship aspiration but produced a society more stifling to that than stuck in the mud Germans.

    In europe we often get pretty close to what we vote for, and we generally vote in pursuit of our self interests, that may be stolid heavily sheltered lives like in Germany, an insane decade long boondoggle of party pork like in Greece or all the risks of booming neo-liberal free market economy as we had in Ireland. US politicians simply haven't been doing what it says on the can since Nixon, they've been looking after one tiny demographic at the expense of all other and those lucky few surprisingly don't even like the idea of being exalted like Louis XV by these cup bearers.
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