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Thursday, March 09, 2006


Heather Boushey and Russell Roberts discuss inequality at the WSJ econoblog (free feature). Here is Roberts:
"The super-rich guy at that charity dinner may have flown on a private jet, but I can afford to fly by jet, too, albeit in a coach seat. The super-rich guy may have been chauffeured to the dinner in a luxury car, but my Honda Accord is pretty quiet and comfortable. The rich guy wears a custom-made suit that may have cost over $1000. But my Lands' End suit is 100% wool and looks pretty good. I'd have to finger the fabric of his jacket to feel inferior. Yes, his watch is more expensive. But mine probably keeps better time. Unless I stop by his house for a visit, I'm unlikely to feel the pinch of my lower income status. Compare that to 50 or 100 years ago, when the qualitative aspects of the lives of the wealthy were much more noticeable to the average person.

Without the government data that is so widely reported, how would I ever know that I'm falling behind or that the super rich or even the mere rich are racing ahead? What I really care about is whether I'm moving forward."
I think the discussion can be helpful in exploring some aspects of equity as a normative framework for defining the purpose of government.

See if you agree with my thoughts that Boushey doesn't directly confront the analysis of Roberts.

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