FanPost

Social Question for Verka (little Reds content)

Sorry for sending this to everyone; I couldn't figure out how to send it directly to Verka.  That being said, I'd love to hear anyone else's input on this.

Verka, I don't understand exactly what you are doing, but I think it's enough to say that you are working for social justice -- that is, a kind of equality -- for disadvantaged folks in the Latin Caribbean.  First off: Good for you, and thanks!

Now, my question.  I've often wondered whether the much-discussed inequality of income is as important as the absolute level of income.  That is, which is better: to have everyone get nearly equal income, or to have a bigger spread, but have the median be higher?

Of course, you have to define what "better" is.  But for these purposes, I think something like "satisfaction," "economic stress-level," or "contentment" might be the right definition.

I can answer this question for myself.  I'm doing reasonably well --don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat, don't have to worry too much about paying the mortgage.  It doesn't bother me a bit that Griffey's option year alone would bring him over 100x my income.  Because I'm content with what I've got, I don't care what he gets.

This makes me wonder if we shouldn't focus on raising "the bottom," and not worry about the disparity, except secondarily insofar as the megaincomes actively screw the poor.  If we could raise the standard of living of the 5th percentile in income in each country -- get it up to the point that the 5th percentile lives a decent life, maybe it doesn't matter what the 99th percentile is making.

So, Verka -- in your experience, which would make people more content?  Reducing the disparity, even if that means everyone is poor, or boosting the 5th percentile, even if some people are making 100x or 1000x that amount?

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