Gergall wrote:There are two opposing factors at play here:
A) The barrier. I absolutely agree that in terms of the barrier to entry, the poor benefit more than the rich.
B) The raw total quantity of the "handout" (dunno if you're gonna give me a hard time over the use of the word handout, but lets not get sidetracked on semantics). Just making up numbers here, suppose the plan to eliminate some licensing reqs goes into play and after a year it turns out that $500 million in handouts go to the rich and $50k go to the poor. Oops.
Of course the numbers wouldn't be that bad, but I merely wish to illustrate that we don't know what those numbers would be. And there must be some point where B outweighs A. Surely if the numbers were 500M and 50k you'd agree that it wasn't worth it. (Right? Please tell me we at least have this tiny scrap of agreement). The question is if we would land on numbers where it is worth it, or not worth it.
Now for the most important part. I wish to reiterate that I am not saying you are wrong. I am saying that I don't know for sure which factor, A or B, will outweigh the other.
I also considered the comparison of 1 person getting out of poverty to 5000 rich people getting more money like in your first example, this latest example really just doubles that I suppose, and I wrote a few sentences for the last post and I realized I was getting ahead of myself.
I do think, as I've admitted before, that I find it plausible there is some point
where an income inequality can be dangerous for society (though it seems people are slow to offer explanations of why that's so), but the point at which that gets to be more of an emergency than absolute poverty
tends to be forced. So I agree with the premise at its most basic.
But what's interesting is that your numbers, meant to be absurd, aren't actually particularly alarming when you consider the alternatives. It looks like Slovenia has the lowest CIA Gini
available on wikipedia, and their richest people are a couple
with wealth estimated at $800,000,000 (698M EUR). The median wealth
of Slovenia is $43,000. Yes it's not apples to apples but when the ratio
of increase of wealth for the rich to the increase to the poor in your supposedly absurd example is 10,000:1, and the ratio of the richest's wealth in the most equal country for which we have data
to the median wealth is 18,600:1 (or 9,300:1 if you want to tabulate it that way as they are a couple), perhaps income inequality having negative effects doesn't work quite like how you imagined (or perhaps Slovenia needs a massive shift in how income is distributed)? Now of course, that is a much smaller ratio than would be the case in America of richest to median. But is Slovenia a better place to live than America? Perhaps, but it's hardly obvious. It's complicated, and copying the ideas of countries with lower inequality like you mentioned might not actually be a good idea as income inequality is far from being the most important measure of whatever makes a good society.
America is a place where you can make 500M or 50k. It's a lot starker than that, actually. A full time minimum wage worker makes about $15,000 a year. Warren Buffet makes $12,700,000,000 a year. That's really unequal wealth distribution. But 90% of human history was hunter/gatherer society, and that was pretty equal. A stark example, sure (and it seems we've been delving into the absurd anyways), but the point is that when comparing the importance of absolute poverty and relative poverty, absolute matters a lot more than is usually framed. That there even exists a society where someone can amass the wealth that is represented by $50k is impressive, and relatively new. And that there are 20+ countries where at least half of the population has amassed such wealth is more impressive still.
I would much rather focus on helping more people get closer to whatever is "comfortable" than on lowering the ratio. Sure, sometimes you can do both. Sometimes focusing on one may make the other worse. Sometimes you can make both worse. But if it's possible that the conditions that lead to more absolute wealth
for everyone can also lead to an increased of ratio of wealth
, then trying to dampen the latter may end up harming the former.
So yes, theoretically, at some point you could raise the income gap to such a point where the negative consequences of that income gap (whatever they may be, and weighed against what it would take to fix them, let's remember
) could outweigh helping people out of actual poverty. But to be legitimately worried about that for even half of what I mentioned (I don't see how it applies to any of them, myself) is a Super-Pyrrho level of skepticism, IMO. And I'm not saying you would disagree, and it's not like either of us has the time to get serious about numbers but it's worth pointing out putting a valuation on getting out of poverty is a pretty tall order, especially when there's not a lot of experience for the valuator in actually living in it.