Here’s the great Bob Higgs on income inequality . A slice:
The personal (or family or household) distribution of income is not a human condition. It is only, to repeat, a statistical artifact. It is a measure such as the Gini coefficient for describing the degree of inequality of the values of individual observations in any aggregate of such observations. The aggregate of the measurement is arbitrary: why, for example, should inequality be measured for the entire U.S. population, rather than for population of the city or state in which one lives, the entire North American population (including Mexico), the entire Western Hemisphere population, or indeed the entire world population? The answer is that the measurement is done for certain political units with an eye to “doing something about” the measured inequality, which is always to say, doing something to reduce it, whatever it now happens to be. Thus, this topic is and always has been a hobbyhorse for socialists and others whose ideologies rest on a psychological foundation of envy, of seeking to justify taking from high-income recipients and giving to low-income recipients.
Income inequality has no necessary connection with poverty, the lack of material resources for a decent life, such as adequate food, shelter, and clothing. A society with great income inequality may have no poor people, and a society with no income inequality may have nothing but poor people. Coercively reducing income inequality by fiscal measures may do nothing to reduce the extent of real poverty and may indeed—to tell the truth, almost certainly will—create incentives that increase the extent of real poverty (and many other social ills).
I thought about writing a letter-to-the-editor in response to John Edward Terrell’s uninformed critique, in the New York Times, of individualism . (Among other problems, Mr. Terrell reveals himself to be an outstanding slayer of men of straw.) But Terrell’s essay is so bad that I don’t have the stomach to try to write about it as if it makes sense. Here’s David Henderson on it .
What is overlooked or ignored by labor unions and anti-Wal-Mart organizations is that it takes highly compensated, superstar-level managerial talent to efficiently run a retail giant like Wal-Mart.
These activists then make an even bigger mistake by assuming Wal-Mart’s top leaders are highly paid at the expense of lower wages for part-time hourly workers.
Consider: Wal-Mart employs roughly 600,000 part-time employees. If the company’s executive team were replaced by lower-paid managers who forfeited 25% of a $71 million total compensation package, the extra take-home pay for part-timers would total just under $30 — per year, that is.