Category Archives: Income Distribution – Inequality

Exploitation is a, very possibly the, major cause of inequality. All types of exploitation tend to shift income from the many to the few, including monopoly and oligopoly profits; corruption, rent seeking and other actions by governments, and discrimination of all types and “imperialistic” relations between rich countries and poor, now and in the past.  Inequality due to exploitation is not brought out very far in discussions of inequality, as exploitation/appropriation is not widely understood.  See Understanding Exploitation for a fuller discussion of types of exploitation and their integration into the political-economic system.

Human Development Report 2019 Credit: UNDP

Human Development Report: new inequalities must be addressed

United Nations Development Program December 9, 2019. The demonstrations sweeping across the world today signal that, despite unprecedented progress against poverty, hunger and disease, many societies are not working as they should.

The connecting thread, argues a new report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is inequality.“Different triggers are bringing people onto the streets — the cost of a train ticket, the price of petrol, demands for political freedoms, the pursuit of fairness and justice. This is the new face of inequality, and as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality isnot beyond solutions,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner.

The 2019 Human Development Report (HDR), entitled “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st Century,” says that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing for millions of people, the necessities to thrive have evolved.

A new generation of inequalities is opening up, around education, and around technology and climate change — two seismic shifts that, unchecked, could trigger a ‘new great divergence’ in society of the kind not seen since the Industrial Revolution, according to the report. In countries with very high human development, for example, subscriptions to fixed broadband are growing 15 times faster and the proportion of adults with tertiary education is growing more than six times faster than in countries with low human development.

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US inequality, poverty, hunger 2019

Many renters who face eviction owe less than $600. Can Washington do something to help them? A growing number of politicians think so. Emily Badger New York Times December 12, 2019

Watch 4 decades of inequality drive American cities apart. The biggest metropolitan areas are now the most unequal. Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy New York Times December 2, 2019

Income inequality in America is the highest it has been since the Census started tracking it, data shows Taylor Telford Washington Post September 26, 2019

More Americans go without health coverage despite a strong economy, Census Bureau finds Amy Goldstein and Heather Long Washington Post September 10, 2019

Photo: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

Limit corporate stock buybacks

Limit corporate stock buybacks Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders New York Times February 3, 2019
“…Companies, rather than investing in ways to make their businesses more resilient or their workers more productive, have been dedicating ever larger shares of their profits to dividends and corporate share repurchases. When a company purchases its own stock back, it reduces the number of publicly traded shares, boosting the value of the stock to the benefit of shareholders and corporate leadership. Between 2008 and 2017, 466 of the S&P 500 companies spent around $4 trillion on stock buybacks, equal to 53 percent of profits. An additional 40 percent of corporate profits went to dividends. When more than 90 percent of corporate profits go to buybacks and dividends, there is reason to be concerned.”

Photo: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Credit The Timeless Gentleman

Bowl of bean stew.

Cause of death: not enough money to buy food

“If people go hungry, it is often because food is unaffordable: our world is riddled with disparities in the cost of basic nourishment.”  The World Food Program illustrates this important and neglected fact In its recent publication: Counting the Beans: The True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the World. People starve in the midst of food–they just don’t have enough money to buy it.   In the United States most of us are accustomed to not spending very much of our income on food.  In developing countries,  the cost is higher, and very much higher in countries experiencing conflict,

To compare countries around the world, the WFP took a simple meal–a 600 calorie bean stew–and calculated how much of people’s average daily income it would take to buy the meal.

New York 0.6%

El Salvador 5.5%

Egypt 4.4%

India 4.5% Continue reading

Photo: 2018 Camden County College graduation.

It’s better to be born rich than smart

The least-gifted children of high-income parents graduate from college at higher rates than the most-gifted children of low-income parents.  Wealth creates an advantage for children of rich parents, and a barrier to entry to a college education for children of poor parents.

It’s better to be born rich than gifted  Andrew Van Dam Washington Post October 9, 2018

Photo: 2018 Camden County College graduation. Credit: CCC