All entries for Wednesday 04 May 2005
May 04, 2005
Jane Galt of Asymmetric Information posts about our perceptions of wealth and how rich we are as compared with previous generations:
But, of course, we can always find new things to worry about. By the standards of, say, 1920, every single one of us, even welfare mothers, is rich. Every single one of us has enough food that we never need to go to bed with our stomachs crying out to be filled. Every single one of us has running water—running hot water—and bathtubs and indoor toilets to put the water into. We have stoves that do not need to be carefully tended to keep the fire going. We have central heat. We have cars or public transportation to take us wherever we want to go for a trivial sum. Almost every poor person in America has a color television, offering free entertainment 24 hours a day, and most of them can afford to buy cable to go along with it.
See her full post here.
The whines of those who claim we should be focused on eliminating the scourge of poverty in this country are annoying. In a country where you can purchase all manner of items at lower prices than ever before it’s hard to believe in absolute poverty. It’s hard to believe that a significant number of people can’t cobble together enough money to put food on the table each day. In any case, we’re wealthy enough to support anyone who finds themselves in such a position. As such, focus on levels of disparities in wealth is unwarranted.
Measures of social mobility are of more use than mere income differentials. Rather than decrying legitimately earned wealth we should be focused on creating a top rate educational system. With an education and skills demanded by the market, one’s social background, sex and race become far less important. We should focus on creating an environment in which entrepreneurs are able to create innovative businesses thus generating employment. We should be developing institutions which reward effort. And so on. Inequality shouldn’t be ignored, but in a country such as ours, its existence shouldn’t be an immediate cause for concern.
In the desire for redistribution for redistribution’s sake, we destroy the conditions which allowed us to consider poverty unacceptable in the first place. We destroy the conditions which allow us to take our food, mobile phones, cars and computers for granted.