Some ‘inequality’ is good and other unpopular statements

We have an attitude as individuals to define things as “inherently good” or “inherently bad”.  And when this comes to policy indicators this is dangerous.

Shamubeel has already discussed this when thinking about the broad idea of equality, and so has Sen – although those posts were just us quoting him!  However, a lot of recent discussions have been specifically on a more narrow measure, that of measures of static income inequality [think Gini coefficient, inter-quartile range, 80-20 income range, etc].  We are being told these are inherent bads which must be squashed!  But does this make sense?  Or is some inequality in these measures really a good thing?

Note:  I read this post after writing my post.  It is very good.

Bah, inequality is bad – it’s obvious

Yes, yes, the most common response I get – but you’re here now, so lets have a think about what we are doing. Read more

Quote of the day: Lambert and value judgments

I was excited to see James post about value judgments this morning – as that is exactly what I was about to throw a brief post on!  Partially motivated by this:

But also motivated by the fact I’ve been reading a bunch of ‘normative economics’ recently.  Here in the book “The Distribution and Redistribution of Income” by Peter Lambert is a quote about value judgments (with reference to, in this case, income inequality measures)”

It is hard to avoid making (often well-concealed) value judgments when assessing inequality

The points he goes on to make regarding valuing income distributions given certain measures are relatively well known, but worth repeating: Read more

Inequality is natural

The moot in a debate organised and run by VILP (Victoria International Leadership Programme) students on 15 October 2013 was: “Is inequality natural?”

I was on the affirmative team with Harry Berger and Even Bain, two smart and articulate Victoria students.

We won the debate 49-43. Once you adjust for the home ground advantage to the negative side (organised following the inequality symposium in Victoria earlier in the year, and debate opened by Max Rashbrooke, author of Inequality: A NZ Crisis – link to book here!), I reckon that pretty much counts as a land-slide victory 😉

Natural versus equitable

Our argument was very simple. Inequality is natural – as in it is in nature. We appealed to biology, evolution and human behaviour. But that it does not make it fair or equitable. We have to appeal to our humanity and empathy to deal with negatives of inequality – but those are defined in many cases by normative judgements that society has to agree on.  Read more