Obessions of Inequality

Graphic credit: "Geographies of Opportunity"

Graphic credit: “Geographies of Opportunity”

by James A. Bacon

Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis, authors of “Geographies of Opportunity,” provide a state-by-state and congressional district-by-congressional district measurement of “well being” across the United States. Overall, Virginia fares reasonably well in the report, scoring 11th overall. Well being is determined by a set of measures for life expectancy, education and median income. But state averages can mask a lot. Indeed, Virginia stands out for the inequality of income and well being inside its borders.

The premise of the report is that there other ways to measure progress than by the usual metrics of economic growth. The study draws upon the United Nation’s Human Development Index to measure three “fundamental human dimensions” — a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. “There is a broad consensus that these three capabilities are essential building blocks for a life of value, freedom and dignity.”

The Index score for the United States as a whole is 5.06. Connecticut is the best off, with an index of 6.17, and Virginia comes in at 11th at 5.47. Mississippi (no surprise) comes in last at 3.81. (Play with the data here.)

Burd-Sharps and Lewis also break down the numbers by congressional district. Virginia has three of the top 20 districts in the nation ranked by well being — the 8th (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax), the 10th (Manassas to Winchester), and the 11th (Reston to Quantico). And it has one of the poorest — the 9th, in the far Southwest.

OK, what does all this tell us? I’m really not sure. Other than obsessing about what we all know to be true — there are huge wealth gaps in the United States — the study doesn’t tell us much. Gee, there’s a link between education level and health? Who would have figured? And there’s a link between income and health, too? Gosh, tell me more.

In a sidebar, the study notes how the ethnically pluralistic residents of the 8th district in the affluent Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., live eight years longer than the predominantly white residents living in the isolated mountains of Southwest Virginia. Longevity in affluent U.S. congressional districts exceeds that of Japan. Longevity in the poorest districts, like the 9th, compares to Gaza and the West Bank.

So, what do we do about it? Improving human development outcomes in Appalachia, the authors opine, “requires greater investment in peoples’ capabilities to thrive in the new economy” — specifically, a high-quality pre-school experience.

But elsewhere we read that the higher the proportion of foreign-born residents in a congressional district, the longer the district’s life expectancy. In sunny California, there is a “surprising” 3.2-year life expectancy gap in favor of foreign-born Latinos as compared to their U.S.-born counterparts. Surprising — really? It’s only surprising if you think that the only meaningful determinants of public health are education and income levels, and that culture has nothing to do with it. As it turns out, the longer poor Latinos live in the U.S. and adopt fast food-heavy diets, the greater their risk of obesity-related illnesses.

Now that would have been an interesting angle to pursue. When affluent populations have better health outcomes than poor populations, the assumption is that the difference can be attributed to superior access to health care. Surely some of it is. But how much is due to different diets and lifestyles? Are there strategies that attack health problems more directly than, say, by increasing spending on pre-K?

Another thing that irritated me was the failure to adjust incomes for cost of living. If the purpose is to compare well being, the cost of living is a major consideration. The authors contrast Connecticut and Wyoming, states with similar GDPs per capita, in the $65,000 to $68,000 range. “Does this mean that the people living in these two states enjoy similar levels of health, education and living standards?” the authors ask. “It does not. Connecticut residents, on average, can expect to outlive their western compatriots by nearly two and a half years, are 40 percent more likely to have bachelor’s degrees, and typically earn $6,000 more per year.”

Here’s what the study doesn’t bother to tell you. According to CNN Money’s cost of living calculator, earning $50,ooo in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is the equivalent of earning $64,900 in Hartford or $76,600 in New Haven. Incomes are lower? Yes, but the dollar stretches 30% to 50% further. The question I would ask is this: How is it that the residents of Wyoming, who aren’t nearly as well educated as the residents of Connecticut, manage to earn higher incomes on a cost-of-living-adjusted basis?

As an aside, let’s talk about income disparities within congressional districts. Which state do you think has greater disparities of vast wealth and poverty in close proximity — Wyoming, a state of cowboys and coal miners, of Connecticut, a state of inner-city poor and hedge-fund billionaires?

For a document entitled, “Geographies of Opportunity,” this study has almost nothing to say about the economics of opportunity. It has nothing to say about strategies that poor people can pursue to lift themselves out of poverty or lead healthier lives. All recommendations call for an activist and interventionist government. Promote health by cracking down on smoking. Regulate food advertising. Invest public dollars in recreational facilities and (a remedy I actually agree with) in more walkable neighborhoods. Expand pre-school programs. Keep teens in high school until they graduate. Raise the minimum wage. The list goes on with a host of suggestions that have absolutely nothing to do with the data presented. As for the one sure-fire way to wage raises for the poor — create conditions conducive to economic growth so that companies hire more workers, drive down unemployment and bid up wages — it doesn’t warrant a mention.

The numbers in this study are potentially useful. The analysis and recommendations are not.

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44 responses to “Obessions of Inequality

  1. DId you say why you thought people in affluent places live longer?

    Do you see a correlation between a good education ad affluence and more/better access to health care?

    you compare affluent areas to all of Japan.

    what percentage of Americans live as long as Japan?

    If someone lives in SW Va – and they are rich – do you think they will live as long as someone who is less rich but lives within 5 minutes of a major medical center?

    how do poor “lift themselves out of poverty”?

    serious question – what are the ways if they have a terrible education?

  2. “So, what do we do about it? Improving human development outcomes in Appalachia, the authors opine, “requires greater investment in peoples’ capabilities to thrive in the new economy” — specifically, a high-quality pre-school experience.”

    “As it turns out, the longer poor Latinos live in the U.S. and adopt fast food-heavy diets, the greater their risk of obesity-related illnesses.”

    do you have any data to back up this premise that seems to be based on bias and stereotyping?

    “Now that would have been an interesting angle to pursue. When affluent populations have better health outcomes than poor populations, the assumption is that the difference can be attributed to superior access to health care. Surely some of it is. But how much is due to different diets and lifestyles? ”

    similar question – are you basing this assumption on data that shows the affluent are less obese than the poor?

    “Are there strategies that attack health problems more directly than, say, by increasing spending on pre-K?”

    that are based on factual evidence or personal bias and stereotyping?

    Another thing that irritated me was the failure to adjust incomes for cost of living. …….
    Here’s what the study doesn’t bother to tell you. According to CNN Money’s cost of living calculator, earning $50,ooo in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is the equivalent of earning $64,900 in Hartford or $76,600 in New Haven. Incomes are lower? Yes, but the dollar stretches 30% to 50% further. The question I would ask is this: How is it that the residents of Wyoming, who aren’t nearly as well educated as the residents of Connecticut, manage to earn higher incomes on a cost-of-living-adjusted basis?”

    because it’s a much smaller population based on fossil fuel extraction?

    also – how many folks in Wyoming have health insurance compared to Connecticut?

    how many hospitals per capita and do people live near to hospitals?

    I think there are lots of questions here – but you seem to be restricting your view to what appears to be pre-conceived ideas – not particularly based on evidence but rather perception.

    “As an aside, let’s talk about income disparities within congressional districts. Which state do you think has greater disparities of vast wealth and poverty in close proximity — Wyoming, a state of cowboys and coal miners, of Connecticut, a state of inner-city poor and hedge-fund billionaires?”

    not sure of your question here but there likely is evidence to show what you ask.

    For a document entitled, “Geographies of Opportunity,” this study has almost nothing to say about the economics of opportunity. It has nothing to say about strategies that poor people can pursue to lift themselves out of poverty or lead healthier lives. .”

    trying to conceive of how “lifting oneself out of poverty” is geographic in opportunity…

    “All recommendations call for an activist and interventionist government”

    Public education and Hospitals are “activist and interventionist”?
    geeze

    “Promote health by cracking down on smoking.”
    haven’t we done that and it’s been hugely successful?

    “Regulate food advertising. ” Again – haven’t we required nutrition labeling that now even anti-regulation people take for granted?

    and we required truth in advertising on drugs? why not food?

    “Invest public dollars in recreational facilities and (a remedy I actually agree with) in more walkable neighborhoods. ”

    so – you agree with the premise of govt doing stuff – sometimes?

    “Expand pre-school programs.”
    “Keep teens in high school until they graduate. Raise the minimum wage. The list goes on with a host of suggestions that have absolutely nothing to do with the data presented. As for the one sure-fire way to wage raises for the poor — create conditions conducive to economic growth so that companies hire more workers, drive down unemployment and bid up wages — it doesn’t warrant a mention.”

    because it’s a cockamamie view … people with crappy educations don’t benefit from a higher-performing economy when the wages are not living wages and require tax dollars for entitlements.

    “The numbers in this study are potentially useful. The analysis and recommendations are not.”

    I agree – they’re using the data to promote a political viewpoint – something I’ve seen done here in BR not infrequently but usually the other way!

    I think thought – it should be apparent – those with higher incomes probably can afford better health care ….. and do… including going to the doctor frequently enough to detect disease early on whereas those with lesser income and no insurance do not – and often show up at the ER with symptoms indicative of advanced and untreated disease – that – taxpayers and insured are going to pay for.

    For all the talk about “activist govt”, the man who just came back from Europe where people live longer and pay less for health care – had not a word to say about the English health care system.

    The rich in this country live longer because they have access to health care whereas the poor do not – and die earlier. This is not rocket science.

    yes the rich – a small segment of the US population – will pay much more for health care so that they outlive the “average” Japanese.. of which the nation as a whole, paying 1/2 as much for health care – are “competitive” in life expectancy – with the rich in the US.

    what reasonable conclusion can we come away with?

    that if we had a better economy that the poor would get rich and get as good healthcare as their fellow rich – and we’d top Japan in average national life expectancy?

    I keep asking – name the countries in the world who do not have “activist and interventionist” govt in health care that do better than the ones that do.

    Name the countries in the world who do not have public education that do better economically than the ones that do.

    Name the countries in the world that have such good economies that the poor can pull themselves out of poverty .

    I’m NOT advocating activist and interventionist govt – but I AM asking for you to show examples of the opposite where the outcome is better as a result of not having activist and interventionist govt.

    It appears you’re working off of theories – not realities.

    • Lifting yourself out of poverty is, to some degree, geographic, with things like regulatory structure, access to Internet, quality of public education all having an impact.

      Areas with large employment in the energy sector are particularly likely to have opportunities for blue collar workers. In those areas, you have a push and pull between better middle class job opportunities and the need to cut down on carbon emissions.

      Immigrants with very limited education who are able to start businesses often do very well. Those are situations that are particularly sensitive to regulations around starting and running a business.

      Cracking down on smoking has pretty much run its course. It’s pretty far past the 80/20 rule already.

      Regulating food advertising – sorry, but that goes beyond nutrition labeling. BTW, there are already requirements for truth in advertising for food.

      Conditions conducive to economic growth actually do have a huge impact on economic growth, although there is an important distinction between “things businesses advocate for” and “conditions conducive to economic growth.”

      People with “crappy educations” do benefit from a higher-performing economy – even Texas, which has an extremely laissez faire approach to regulation, has been creating more middle income jobs than California, and with less income disparity. Look it up.

      • I agree with smoking and food labeling..

        what jobs in the energy sector? coal? Coal is dying in the east – it’s much harder to get at than coal out west – even if we kept the coal plants.

        Texas has energy jobs – what does Va have for folks with 20th century high school educations? What they have basically is low paying jobs in places like NoVa where the cost of living makes it near impossible to find a place to live.

        I think we’re in denial here because what do we do for folks who only have a high school education and cannot find work?

        We pay them entitlements including Medical Care. The GOP thinks the solution is to cut the entitlements and Medical care. Do you want to live in a country that functions like a 3rd world country?

        We are the ONLY ONE of the OECD countries who cannot get our act together on education – AND health care.

        People on the right think we can not have education and not have health care and not pay entitlements. check out the list of countries who function this way.

        • Currently, most energy jobs I hear about are related to fracking, not coal. Coal is dying out, due to competition more than regulation.

          I am not advocating more fracking in Virginia, just to be clear.

          There aren’t enough jobs for people with high school educations and no special skills.

          There are jobs – plumbing, electrician, carpentry, manufacturing, truck and van driving, delivery, some in agriculture including specialty agriculture, retail, restaurant, shipping, military service, starting your own business, etc.

          There are not enough jobs for HS grads, let alone those that didn’t graduate, and most of the ones that pay decently either require special skills or owning a business. Starting your own business requires a fair bit of drive and initiative, but it is a way to get a decent wage if the business climate is good. However, practically, not everyone can do it even if the business climate is good.

  3. I agree with Larry’s point that reporting incomes without also noting differences in cost of living presents very misleading information. A good friend of mine went to work in Chicago right after law school. After several years making “big bucks,” he and his wife decided they wanted to move back to Des Moines. He took a big hit on his compensation, as did his wife. But their standard of living went up considerably.

  4. Larry says:
    “As it turns out, the longer poor Latinos live in the U.S. and adopt fast food-heavy diets, the greater their risk of obesity-related illnesses.” Do you have any data to back up this premise that seems to be based on bias and stereotyping?

    That wasn’t me saying that — that was the study!

    • “That wasn’t me saying that — that was the study!”

      Which also doesn’t provide any data or references to back it up.

      Here something else from the study…

      ” Latinos binge drink at slightly lower rates than whites and smoke
      less; smoking and drinking to excess both contribute to premature death from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In addition, a growing body of research suggests that aspects of Latino culture, such as strong social support and family cohesion, help bolster health outcomes for a population
      that otherwise faces considerable challenges. Latino women have low rates of preterm birth and low-birth-weight babies, for instance, and researchers have tied these positive outcomes to the knowledge and support that Latino families and the larger community provide women when they are pregnant. In his landmark study Heat Wave, Eric Klinenberg explores why during the period of extreme heat in July 1995 in Chicago that killed 739 mostly elderly people, only 2 percent of the heat-related deaths were among Latinos, although they then accounted for at least 23 percent of Chicago’s population. Klinenberg also offers social support as a possible explanation. He argues that although the city’s Latinos were disproportionately very poor, their “cultural practice of caring,” and the way this practice was embedded in the “ecology and economy—including the clustered households of multi-generational networks, the busy sidewalks, and the relative security of the neighborhoods”— of chiefly Mexican immigrant communities prompted people to look in on and assist their elderly neighbors and family members.”

      Now, that actually had links to other studies and research to support it, but you leave out the question of “What is it about American culture that makes people such assholes?”

      • So, culture does matter. Are you conceding that there may be dysfunctional aspects to American culture?

        • I’ve never denied that culture matters nor that there may be dysfunctional aspects to American culture.

          What I’ve always disagreed with is that you can somehow segregate out poor American culture as something distinct without making a hash of it. Other than being American, what are the unifying cultural factors of CD34 in California, CD2 in Georgia, CD2 in Idaho, CD4 in Oregon, CD33 in Texas, CD4 in Michigan, CD1 in North Carolina, and CD5 in Pennsylvania?

    • Google is your friend. For an example re Latinos see Dietary Quality among Latinos: Is Acculturation Making us Sick? by Rafael Pérez-Escamilla

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716544/

      I’ve seen a number of similar studies for various immigrant groups discussed on NPR – which, as we all know, is famously reactionary. (Yes, sarc.)

      • “Google is your friend.”

        Yeah, no. I’m not going to do someone else’s work for them. I think that’s called Communism.

        And I read the study, and it doesn’t affirm Bacon’s premise because:
        1) It only compares children not adult immigrants, 2) It states that not all Latino cultures are the same, 3) It states that even within a country there are disparities in health between rural and urban (Mexico) and 4) This line right here “…it was suggested that dietary quality among Latino children may be compromised as they assimilate more into the USA ‘mainstream’ culture,” rather lends itself to my assertion that if the problem is cultural it comes from the top down and isn’t the result of some subculture of the poor.

        I do appreciate the assist, though.

        • I didn’t take it as subculture of the poor.

          There are a whole series of studies, for various groups moving to the US, that show that quality of diet goes down.

          They aren’t related to subculture of the poor – they are related to dietary trends in the US.

      • fascinating concept .. I don’t discount it – but are we saying that Latinos around the world – no matter their wealth are culturally eating wrong?

        My complaint here is categorizing the poor of a culture as if they are different from the non-poor. How about other cultures – is there a similar divide where the wealthy eat better and are less obese than the poor?

        so correct me if I am wrong – is the premise that the poor do not eat “healthy” and are obese and the wealthy eat better and are less obese?

        • I have not seen any study that says that Latinos, or any other ethnic group, are eating wrong.

          I haven’t seen international studies on this, but there are a number of public health studies that show rich people in the US eat better and are thinner than poor people.

          Presumed causes are access and cost of food, amount of free time, and resources. Not eating wrong.

          There are also a number of public health studies that show that new immigrants tend to eat better than people who have been here longer, across a number of ethnic groups. These are not studies about poverty, they’re essentially studies showing that people tend to pick up the less healthy part of the US diet after they move here.

          Similar trends have been seen in other countries where increasing wealth has led to a more US-style diet, with increases in diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome.

          I think you’re conflating two different, but well studied points that there really isn’t a lot of disagreement about.

  5. Larry said: “People with crappy educations don’t benefit from a higher-performing economy when the wages are not living wages and require tax dollars for entitlements.”

    Larry, you’re wrong in so many ways. Have you suspended the laws of supply and demand? Why do you think McDonalds and Wal-Mart have started raising wages above the minimum wage? Because the labor market, after many long years, is finally tightening. If we had a job-creating economy instead of job-killing economy, labor markets would tighten even more and wages would increase even faster.

    • And certainly the strikes and labor agitations that have been going on have no influence whatsoever on those decisions…

    • re: ” Larry said: “People with crappy educations don’t benefit from a higher-performing economy when the wages are not living wages and require tax dollars for entitlements.”

      Larry, you’re wrong in so many ways. Have you suspended the laws of supply and demand? Why do you think McDonalds and Wal-Mart have started raising wages above the minimum wage? Because the labor market, after many long years, is finally tightening. If we had a job-creating economy instead of job-killing economy, labor markets would tighten even more and wages would increase even faster.”

      what I am saying is that in economics you cannot isolate one thing in the real world like you would in a theory.

      gasoline goes up – does it cause WaWa to lay off clerks?

      2 liter cokes go up in Walmart – along with the price of a pound of shrimp. Does Walmart lay off stockers?

      people make choices when prices go up -and it may well not be on a one-for-one direct relationship.

      burgers go up – someone buys less lottery tickets.

      tell me the truth – do you REALLY care what the price of a burger is when you stop for lunch on I-95?

      when the cable company goes up 5 bucks do you think it causes unemployment at the cable company? Do you actually KNOW if the increased price is because of labor or corporate greed or some other reason?

      Jim – you confuse theory with the real world.

      theory can help explain and understand supply and demand dynamics but if you attempt to use it as an inviolate truth for one kind of relationship – you’re screwed. The real world is much, much more complicated.

      People want sound-bite wisdom – .. it’s an oxymoron.

      PHD economists cannot fully explain some market dynamics.. others will honestly tell you that people’s behaviors trump the theory of supply and demand. they call it “elasticity” but what it really means is that supply and demand varies – “elastic”.

      this is how you end up believing in free market health care and there is no country on earth that works that way – yet you still believe it …

      • I do think, though, that you underestimate the effect of prices on supply and demand.

        Yes, some demand is relatively inelastic (insenstive to price) – generally because of necessity or very strong preference. For example, while people can choose to drive less for recreation, most people have to drive to work, even if gas is very expensive. Even in those cases, you can see a drop in price allowing people to buy more stuff – for example, the recent drop in gas prices caused a measurable surge in economic activity.

        Gas prices go up, actually, over the chain, WaWa may lay off clerks, as people buy less add-ons and cut their use of gas as they can.

        If cokes and shrimp go up, WalMart doesn’t suffer – people buy Pepsi or WalMart brand or something else. However, CocaCola company will sell less, and the seafood wholesalers will sell less, and they will probably lay off people.

        BTW, demand elasticity has a specific meaning – it’s how sensitive or insensitive demand is to the price of a particular item. You may know this already but from your post I couldn’t tell.

  6. “Are there strategies that attack health problems more directly than, say, by increasing spending on pre-K?”

    Well, sure there are, but down here…

    “Promote health by cracking down on smoking. Regulate food advertising. Invest public dollars in recreational facilities”

    You dismiss them because they aren’t sufficiently moralistic as to how the poor should live their lives. Because you don’t actually care about the bad health of the poor – outside of looking for any opportunity and any person willing to tell them what to do – which is fine, but at least admit it. You just want a study on the Internet to tell poor people how to live their lives better, but any government intervention to help them along that path is rejected. Oh, wait, except…

    “Invest public dollars in…more walkable neighborhoods.”

    We shouldn’t invest public money in public recreation facilities that the public can use, we should invest public money in walkable neighborhoods that only the people who live in those neighborhoods will directly benefit from.

    You are dismissive of universal pre-K, so public money shouldn’t be used to increase educational opportunities for all people – even in a knowledge economy – but it should be spent for the benefit of a handful of property owners.

    And since you want to focus on Wyoming, how will walkable neighborhoods benefit people’s health in a rural state heavily dependent on cars to get people to jobs? Wouldn’t targeted public programs to change the cultures around binge drinking and smoking likely result in better health outcomes?

    “create conditions conducive to economic growth so that companies hire more workers, drive down unemployment and bid up wages”

    Conditions such as…?

  7. jesus – money “invested” for walkability but “wasted” on education and health care….

    my lord.

    ““create conditions conducive to economic growth so that companies hire more workers, drive down unemployment and bid up wages”

    it will be theory mind you – not real world examples..

    we have 200+ countries on earth – but theory trumps them all when it comes to “creating conditions…. ” –

    if you believe Bacon and company – the least regulated, smallest govt footprint countries in the world would economically slaughter OECD countries… yessiree…

    • As a matter of fact, the least regulated countries do tend to out-perform the more regulated countries. Take a look at the Index of Economic Freedom here. The U.S. is no longer in the top ten.

      Read it and cringe.

      • Top 10 Countries
        Hong Kong
        Singapore
        New Zealand
        Australia
        Switzerland
        Canada
        Chile
        Estonia
        Ireland

        Jim – you’d call these countries less regulated than most other countries and “small” govt footprint countries? hahahabhbhahahaaaaaa

        these are some of the more regulated, heavily taxed countries on the surface of the earth and many provide that nasty socialist Universal Health Care as well as social security and free public education.

        how about the REAL small footprint govt and even less regulated countries? they should be better than these right?

        I doubt seriously you’d advocate that the US be more like these countries in terms of health care, would you?

        but you still have not provided the “conditions” and the good examples of them being followed by what countries?

        all theory – guy – all talk – no go.

        • Cringe, Larry, cringe at the economic might of Estonia!

        • “The more regulated, heavily taxed countries on the surface of the earth.”

          I guess all things are relative, Larry. What basis (other than your own superficial impressions) do you have to say that Hong Kong, Singapore et al enjoy less economic freedom than countries lower on the list? Let’s see your methodology. Let’s see your data. Otherwise, we’re just floating around in Larry World, believing what we want to believe.

          • I’m saying their experience shows that heavier regulation, govt-provided healthcare and public education IMPROVES their HDI.

            you seem to imply that less regulation and less govt would result in even better outcomes and I’m saying that if you look at the 200 countries on earth – that – that is clearly not true.

            the smaller the govt footprint, the less regulation, is a characteristic of 3rd world countries – and even wider inequality.

            I’m saying there is a observable correlation between HDI – and the level and involvement of govt – that the countries with high HDI are invariably the OECD countries – not the less regulated smaller govt footprint countries.

            your premise seems to be that of the OECD countries that they would be even better if they had less govt involvement and regulation in things like health care – where a true competitive market would emerge and I’m asking if you look at the 20o countries can you show me some true competitive health care markets or places where govt is much less involved and as a result less inequity for the population.

            I’m challenging the premise that more govt and more regulation and more govt-provided services results in more inequity.

            I think the opposite is true – that more govt results in less inequities and I cite the HDI index – the higher the index – the larger the govt footprint.

            so I’m asking you to show the contradictions – show me the countries with lesser govt that have higher (or rapidly improving) HDIs…

            I’m challenging your premise that less govt, less regulation, less govt services leads to worse outcomes.

          • Jim – do you realize that Singapore REQUIRES you to have health care AND a pension?

            what I question is YOUR premise that the countries you list – are less regulated and as a result are better off.

            where do you get that? the Heritage site only counts regulation as one factor and even then it’s not at all clear on the criteria – it’s more of a hand-waving exercise.

            You and Heritage, for instance, don’t seem to distinguish between regulations that protect property rights and regulations that do something else that causes ‘harm’.

            this goes along with the right-leaning ideology that any, all regulation is bad … yet when they talk about 3rd world countries they say that property rights are not protected – but they don’t use the word regulation to say how they are protected.

  8. to really make your point Jim – you need to list the least regulated, smaller footprint countries along with their Human Development Index .

    that would prove your premise. (or disprove it).

    here they are:

    1 Steady Norway 0.944 Increase 0.001
    2 Steady Australia 0.933 Increase 0.002
    3 Steady Switzerland 0.917 Increase 0.001
    4 Steady Netherlands 0.915 Steady
    5 Steady United States 0.914 Increase 0.002
    6 Steady Germany 0.911 Steady
    7 Steady New Zealand 0.910 Increase 0.002
    8 Steady Canada 0.902 Increase 0.001
    9 Increase (3) Singapore 0.901 Increase 0.003
    10 Steady Denmark 0.900

    virtually all of them are heavily regulated, heavily taxed, large footprint govt OECD countries

    listed below are some of the least regulated and taxed, low govt footprint countries:

    157 Decrease (1) Papua New Guinea 0.491 Increase 0.001
    157 Steady Solomon Islands 0.491 Increase 0.002
    159 Decrease (1) Comoros 0.488 Increase 0.002
    159 Increase (1) Tanzania 0.488 Increase 0.004
    161 Decrease (2) Mauritania 0.487 Increase 0.002
    162 Increase (1) Lesotho 0.486 Increase 0.005
    163 Decrease (3) Senegal 0.485 Increase 0.001
    164 Steady Uganda 0.484 Increase 0.004
    165 Steady Benin 0.476 Increase 0.003
    166 Steady Sudan 0.473 Increase 0.001

    now which group of countries do you think you’d have the most opportunity and economic freedom?

    • Where did you get your numbers from?

    • You’re really off in your own little world here, Larry. What is your basis for asserting that Sudan, Benin, Uganda, etc. are among the “least regulated and taxed” countries in the world? I suppose you could say that Papua New Guinea, where 90% of the population is one generation removed from the friggin’ stone age, is low regulation, low tax — that’ s because 90% of the country has no effective government at all. Is that what you equate with a modern capitalist society? You’re a real stitch!

      • Jim – do you think 3rd world countries are heavily regulated compared to OECD countries?

        My premise is that the most heavily regulated countries on the planet are OECD/1st world countries bar none – but they are also the highest rated countries in terms of HDI and GDP per capita and they all have universal health care, something you and your Conservative ilk say is economically harmful and unwarranted govt interference that undermines a competitive marketplace that would produce lower health care costs.

        My premise is that if that were true – then the least regulated countries in the world – would actually exhibit real competitive market healthcare, better performing economies and increasing HDI for citizens.

        For some reason – you pick the more advanced countries to become less regulated rather than the countries that already are less regulated.

        that’s what seems to be the own little world.

        I’m just asking for some real world evidence to show that lesser regulated countries actually do perform better than the higher regulated since that is the basic argument about regulation in the first place.

  9. The thing about the typical right-leaning folks on issues like regulation and taxation is that they do not have a consistent view.

    If you ask them, for instance, to produce a list of the worst regulations and their costs – they’d have a hard time producing it.

    their opposition is more general, more ideological – to presume that any regulation has an adverse affect (effect?)

    or let’s put it this way – have never seen any criteria listed by them that actually “can be used to rate ” regulation as “good” or “bad”..

    Heritage also ranks things like property rights which are often the focus of regulation and cited by some as the reason why the US (as bad as they say it is) is better than 3rd world where there is less protection of property rights.

    regulations protect other things of value and importance to people and more often than not – it’s not “clean”. Regulation to protect rights might also be perceived as restricting rights and I give an example.

    Some people believe it’s up to the customer to determine if something is a good deal or a scam… and there are no shortage of entrepreneurs that would, for instance, sell you a drug that was not pure or had ingredients that it said it had … that is was pure and not adulterated… i.e. buyer beware… if you get ripped off – you have the courts and you will avoid the scammer in the future.

    regulations are designed to protect the buyer – and in doing so – put restrictions on the sellers perceived “rights”.

    so if you ask 100 GOP to list the top 5 worst regulations – you’re not going to get a short rank list – but instead answers all over the map – depending on the experience of the individuals. Insurance folks will undoubtedly name some insurance regulation… bankers will name ones that they think hurt them – others will claim that govt regulations for health care drive costs up. Consumers on the other hand see them as protection.

    so .. neither Heritage or CATA or ALEC or anyone else actually have a “dirty dozen” list of regulations…. instead their basic premise is that regulation in general is not a benefit..to anyone.

    • In third world countries without democracy, checks-and-balances and a strong rule of law, it’s not a matter of government “regulating” the economy — it’s typically a matter of government expropriating and extorting wealth from a subject population.

      A lack of government (anarchy) does not permit a free economy. Government in which government is an instrument of oppression does not permit a free economy.

    • It wouldn’t really make sense to have a single list of the worst regulations, though, would it? What’s worst is going to depend on your industry and where you live.

      I don’t think that indicates that it’s ideological, but rather that different regs cause problems for different people in different circumstances.

      All regs do have a cost, and they all do have an adverse effect. But for many, the benefits outweigh the adverse effect. The trick is balancing the harm from the regulation against the benefit.

      Opposing all regulations is looking at harms only – it’s like trying to do cost/benefit accounting without measuring the benefits.

      However, supporting all regulations is like trying to do cost/benefit accounting without measuring costs.

      It’s the balance that actually matters.

  10. so I’m asking – out of 200 countries – which ones are not OECD and not the kind you say are corrupt – that show less inequity as a result of less govt and more free markets?

    surely out of 200 countries they are not divided into heavily regulated OECD and corrupt without redemption…

    would that mean there are really only two choices?

    I’m also curious about this wording:

    “In third world countries without democracy, checks-and-balances and a strong rule of law,”

    do you consider “checks and balances” and “rule of law” to be regulation?

    by the way – this thread is not coming to my email for new entries.

  11. here’s the rank list of countries by GDP per capita:

    1 Qatar 143,427
    2 Luxembourg 92,049
    3 Singapore 82,762
    4 Brunei 73,233
    5 Kuwait 71,020
    6 Norway 66,937
    7 United Arab Emirates 64,479
    8 San Marino 60,664
    9 Switzerland 58,087
    — Hong Kong 54,722
    10 United States 54,597

    and what I would point out is that out of all the countries in the world including most of the OECD countries – the US looks pretty good.

    when you look at the top 10 in terms of public education and health care – most of these countries – govt – provide both.

    When you subtract out the oil countries – the US looks to be in the top 6..

    For a country that Conservatives call one of the most regulated and with heavy govt involvement – we looks pretty good.

    but I would still listen to evidence that shows other countries with less govt and less regulation as having more competitive markets and less inequality for citizens and higher HDI….

  12. let’s cut to the chase:

    “The premise of the report is that there other ways to measure progress than by the usual metrics of economic growth. The study draws upon the United Nation’s Human Development Index to measure three “fundamental human dimensions” — a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. “There is a broad consensus that these three capabilities are essential building blocks for a life of value, freedom and dignity.”
    ………………….
    For a document entitled, “Geographies of Opportunity,” this study has almost nothing to say about the economics of opportunity. It has nothing to say about strategies that poor people can pursue to lift themselves out of poverty or lead healthier lives.

    All recommendations call for an activist and interventionist government. Promote health by cracking down on smoking. Regulate food advertising. Invest public dollars in recreational facilities and (a remedy I actually agree with) in more walkable neighborhoods. Expand pre-school programs. Keep teens in high school until they graduate. Raise the minimum wage. The list goes on with a host of suggestions that have absolutely nothing to do with the data presented. As for the one sure-fire way to wage raises for the poor — create conditions conducive to economic growth so that companies hire more workers, drive down unemployment and bid up wages — it doesn’t warrant a mention.

    The numbers in this study are potentially useful. The analysis and recommendations are not.”

    but Jim – you would not expect the folks that believe in the role of govt to support ” .. one sure-fire way to wage raises for the poor — create conditions conducive to economic growth..”

    and I think this is an idea that comes from the right – instead – and would like to hear more about how this would be done – ”

    can you explain it further?

    thanks.

  13. I think the following article explains some if not a lot of the inequality issue in contemporary times:

    “Why American Workers Without Much Education Are Being Hammered”

    http://goo.gl/66Ac5I

    an excerpt:

    ” The last couple of decades have been terrible for American workers without much education. New research calculates just how bad, and offers some evidence as to why that is.

    In short, they face a double whammy. Less-educated Americans, especially men, are shifting away from manufacturing and other jobs that once offered higher pay, and a higher share are now working in lower-paying food service, cleaning and groundskeeping jobs. Simultaneously, pay levels are declining in almost all of the fields that employ less-educated workers, so even those who have held onto jobs as manufacturers, operators and laborers are making less than they would have a generation ago.”

    Perhaps the single most shocking number in a new review of employment and earnings data by researchers at the Hamilton Project, a research group within the Brookings Institution, is this one: The median earnings of working men aged 30 to 45 without a high school diploma fell 20 percent from 1990 to 2013 when adjusted for inflation.

    that’s a whole generation of people that no longer have the opportunity to make a living that they can support themselves or a family with.

    it’s also the next generation that graduates from HS and does not go to a 4yr college.

    The question is – can these folks pull themselves out of this , i.e. as Jim has asked: ” … strategies that poor people can pursue to lift themselves out of poverty ”

    or is this something that govt has to help out with as asserted by the authors of the Inequality study?

    I fear that our schools are primarily oriented toward providing two options – one for kids who want to go to a 4yr college and the other – a generic diploma – a diploma that is a 20th century diploma that is not worth a plug nickel in this new economy.

    is this something that 18yr kids, not bound for 4yr college – succeed at?

    The POTUS has called for 2yrs of Community College – to give kids more education to qualify them for the better paying non-manufacturing jobs that do exist – in health care, automotive repair, HVAC, even deputies and EMS.

    Is this something that people should do on their own or govt should have programs?

  14. Let me make clear – once again – that I do not believe we should be “helping” people because their lot in life is not fair.

    However – having said that – the American people are NOT going to watch the elderly, the young , the vulnerable live in cardboard boxes on the edge of town and die on the steps of the hospitals AND they are NOT going to get rid of Public Education and let each person find their own way to get educated.

    I wonder if Jim accepts the basic premise of the Human Development Index – itself?

    from WIKI:

    The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and per capita income income indicators, which is used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. It was created by Indian economist Amartya Sen and Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq in 1990,[1] and was published by the United Nations Development Programme.

    so how about it? Is it a legitimate index? Would you expect that index to have some level of govt involvement – like public education and universal health care OR do you think for a given country – the majority of people can lift themselves up without govt-instituted public education and health care?

    I think this thread touches on some basic philosophical ideas of people in general and folks who participate in BR and worthy of discussion because in my view – these philosophical beliefs underlie our political leanings.

    again , I DO NOT favor govt policies to “give” people stuff because they are poor – per se. I have a more selfish motive. Does giving people stuff make for a better life for everyone – i.e. – do we alleviate nationwide, state-wide, Congressional-district-wide 3rd world conditions in having such policies?

    I would dare say that most of us would be shocked to hear that a child died in this country because he froze to death because he had no place to live or starved to death because he had no food or died from an easily treatable injury or disease … so perhaps in THAT vein , most of us ARE lily-livered Liberals – even the entitlement-hating Conservatives, eh?

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