June 18, 2004

MIND THE GAP

Fear our wealth, lesser nations:

Australia has entered the world's top ten nations in a new ranking of individual wealth.

In your face, 11th- and 12-placed Britain and Canada! Of course, the key to this report is that itís based on individual wealth, a clearly inappropriate measure since it fails to deal with the dreaded gap between rich and poor.

Iíve never understood all this concern about the gap. What benefits does a small gap bring? If you are poor, how are your circumstances improved by everybody else also being poor?

Besides which, if the gap is crucial, it isnít poor Australians who need it made smaller. Moguls suffer massive wealth gappage. The gap between the poorest Australian and transport czar Greg Poche is only $700 million; but the gap between Poche and Kerry Packer is a massive $5.8 billion.

Itís all so terribly unfair.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 18, 2004 02:34 AM
Comments

Your new standing now means my welfare check must come from you filthy rich down under. Please send it on time!
Canadas Downtrodden

Posted by: The Happy Dyslectic at June 18, 2004 at 02:48 AM

"If you are poor, how are your circumstances improved by everybody else also being poor"

We are talking here about real equality, Tim. Does it mean NOTHING to you?!!!!

This is one of the shining principles of socialism: all the comrades all equal in poverty!
Except, of course for the ruling bureaucracy.

Posted by: Katherine at June 18, 2004 at 02:54 AM

Hi Tim - I just discovered your blog not too long ago. I'm an American and found your blog through a link on one of our blogger sites. I just wanted to say that I LOVE you guys and it's refreshing to see that we're not the only country who sees that socialism/communism sucks.

Posted by: Vickie at June 18, 2004 at 03:11 AM

This is an argument I love.

Socialist: "Just look a the distribution of wealth in this country. The gap between rich and poor is getting larger."

In fact it is a totally meaningless statistic. It tells us absolutely nothing about the standard of living people enjoy.

It is only useful if you think envy a reasonable motivation for redistribution of wealth.

Posted by: Dean McAskil at June 18, 2004 at 03:19 AM

Australians: Rich Lunatics, or Rich Madmen? We report, you decide...

Posted by: Ash at June 18, 2004 at 03:31 AM

The report's on high net-worth individuals. I know from much anecdotal evidence that the average Brit is a lot wealthier than the average Canuck. And I wonder if they did PPP corrections.

As for your (rhetorical) question about the significance of a gap - you know the answer. No-one with the material possessions of the lower quintile of Western society can be considered 'poor' by any rational standard, so the 'poverty line' has to be redrawn all the time to stop the socialists from losing their constituency and having to find real jobs. According to the income equality fascists, if everyone drives a Rolls-Royce but you can only afford a Merc then you're poor.

Posted by: David Gillies at June 18, 2004 at 03:31 AM

You'd think the question of whether even the "poor" have plenty to eat would have some bearing on the matter...

Posted by: Ash at June 18, 2004 at 03:35 AM

Although an old (2000) article the argument is the same every year. ACOSS:"What will be the result of this rising inequality?...the growing gap between rich and poor will worsen some of our most difficult and sad social problems."

Why???!!! Only if with have more poor and that does not follow from the fact of a growing gap between rich and poor.

This is patent fallacy.

Posted by: Dean McAskil at June 18, 2004 at 03:35 AM

In other words, while there is a gap between rich and poor in wealthy nations, and it may be growing, the poor of wealthy nations are far better off than the poor of poor nations. In fact, the poor of wealthy nations would not be considered poor by the poor of poor nations.

What was the question again?

Posted by: Rebecca at June 18, 2004 at 03:46 AM

Truely, what is wealth..?

Whilst I have no cash, I'm in love with an angel, live in paradise, and have no debt. I'm rich !

Posted by: Just another friggin' Aussie at June 18, 2004 at 03:50 AM

Aussie nails it. Why is the Left so bitterly materialistic?

Posted by: tim at June 18, 2004 at 04:05 AM

Socialists are absolutely obsessed with the idea of equality of outcome. So much so that they would be happy to see the standard of living of the poor in a capitalist society DECLINE if that's the price of bringing the better-off down with them.

They always say that they are aiming for equal wealth for all, but what they always produce is equal poverty for all.

They are not really looking to improve living standards for the poor at all -- just to achieve their idee fixe -- equality of outcome in all things.

Posted by: Susan at June 18, 2004 at 04:26 AM

If you use the "income gap" info, as a lefty you can have it both ways. It the economy is growing, so is the income gap. (There is a zero point on one end of the scale for income and an infinity sign on the other end. If the economy is growing, there is no way the "gap" won't grow also.) If the "gap" is decreasing, it's because the economy is in trouble and you can yell about that.

So. If the economy grows, it's bad for capitalism, and if it shrinks or grows slowly, it's bad for capitalism.

If everybody except the ruling bureaucrats are equally filthy, hungry, and sick and live in equal hovels, that's socialism.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at June 18, 2004 at 06:38 AM


I get a $1000 raise. My neighbor gets a $10,000 raise. The income gap between us has grown dramatically. But I'm sill making $1000 more than I was.

The "income gap" is a meaningless, useless statistic important only to the envious.

Interesting note - a study was done a few years ago that showed people would rather have themselves and their neighbors take a pay cut, than get a modest raise while their neighbor got a heftier one. Such are the priorities of a well-fed nation...

Posted by: Dave S. at June 18, 2004 at 07:13 AM

An income gap is easy to fix. Just deport or execute the richest 1% of your population, and divide their assets up among the survivors. Repeat until the gap is sufficiently narrow. Problem solved.

Of course, now you have a new problem: you've gotten rid of your most successful people and kept all of the unsuccessful ones. Not very good for your economy. But at least you've eliminated that pesky gap!

Posted by: Pat Berry at June 18, 2004 at 08:03 AM

I've often posed this question to leftie friends-- would you rather have the greater income equality of the 70s, when inflation meant that everybody felt broke, or the situation today, when practically everyone is better off (even poverty tends to include cable TV and cell phone service as a minimum) but some are a LOT better off?

Their sputterings always make it clear to me that they see everything as a zero-sum game, specifically, the more the Bosses get, the less us Proles get. They don't accept the idea that the whole middle class is expanding and making nearly everyone richer, because they're so conditioned to thinking of it in terms of a struggle over a finite pool of wealth.

And most of the time, they have a state university job teaching this view to the next generation....

Posted by: Mike G at June 18, 2004 at 08:19 AM

"They always say that they are aiming for equal wealth for all, but what they always produce is equal poverty for all."

Except for the people in charge. Somehow the people in charge, or those with connections, end up with a bigger share of the pie than everyone else.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at June 18, 2004 at 08:44 AM

Mike G --

For employees of a state university, it is a zero sum game.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at June 18, 2004 at 08:48 AM

Remember a few months ago when Michael Moore wrote that Americans were suckers because they (we) believed in social mobility?

According to FatBoy, Americans had only a one in a million chance of becoming a millionaire? We all had a jolly good laugh at that moron's expense!

It was just reported in the last couple of days (sorry, no link) that one in 125 (!!!) Americans are millionaires. Out of 260,000,000; that's a lot of millionaires.

And I'm proud our Aussie brothers and sisters are keeping up!

Posted by: JDB at June 18, 2004 at 09:24 AM

My favorite socialist slogan (free translation):

Proletariat drinks champagne with mouths of its representatives!

Posted by: Katherine at June 18, 2004 at 11:47 AM

Here's the millionaire link.

The socialists want people to buy into the idea that the "American Dream" is to own a home. Total, complete dumbing-down of the dream. The American Dream is to be as successful as one's abilities allow.

I mean, people don't risk their lives floating across the ocean on inner tubes so they can buy a house.

Keep up the good works in Oz!

Posted by: Director at June 18, 2004 at 11:56 AM

"Australia joins ranks of top 10 nations of individual wealth" is misleading. This report puts Australia into the top ten nations in terms of growth in high net worth individuals in just one year.
Both Canada(200) and the UK(383)have more HNWI's(high net worth individuals) per capita than Australia(117).

If we use GDP PPP per capita as a measure of wealth, Australia has been in the top ten wealthy nations for some time.(OK, Number 12 according to World Bank in 2000).
http://www.rba.gov.au/Speeches/2003/sp_gov_131103.html

Despite more than ten years of good economic growth, Australia trails the USA by a large margin. (but at least we are heading in the right direction)

Posted by: Aussie Joe at June 18, 2004 at 12:29 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the GDP PPP per capita of Canada is nearly $30,000 US, while the same measurement for Britain is only around $25,000 US. Therefore, Canada wins.

Posted by: Canada is better. at June 18, 2004 at 03:49 PM

"Both Canada(200) and the UK(383)have more HNWI's(high net worth individuals) per capita than Australia(117)."

Wow, the Canadians are doing better than I realized to have 200 millionaires per person.

Posted by: Greek Isle at June 18, 2004 at 04:33 PM

"This is one of the shining principles of socialism: all the comrades all equal in poverty!"

No, Katherine, the shining principle of socialism is to whine about the real and (more often) imagined ills of one's society, such as inequality, and demand that taxpayers money be stolen to improve the situation. This will provide:
a) an opportunity for socialists to cream off most of the money transferred without having to do real work;
b) imaginary moral equivalence to rationalise the socialist's own moral bankruptcy and parasitism;
c) control of an inefficient bureaucracy to ensure that the original problem never gets effectively solved and that further perceived social ills get created, and
d) lots of cushy jobs for people who will then have a stake in maintaining and promoting socialism.

Posted by: Clem Snide at June 18, 2004 at 10:20 PM

According to the CIA World Factbook, the Norwegians have pretty much caught up with the United States: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html

Good for the Norwegians. The trick to catching up with the United States is, be a country with 4 million people, that produces enough oil each year for 50 million people. It's simple, once you think about it.

Posted by: Tim Shell at June 18, 2004 at 11:33 PM

I’ve never understood all this concern about the gap. What benefits does a small gap bring?

The reasoning, I suspect, is to do with the law of diminishing returns. An extra $100 is of more use to a poor person than to a rich person. Based on such logic, you'd get the most "returns" if the total amount of wealth that existed was distributed evenly.

Posted by: Andjam at June 19, 2004 at 03:09 AM