Will Wilkinson on Inequality
By Arnold Kling
As part of a long, interesting essay, He writes,
You can see leveling in quality across the price scale in almost every kind of consumer good.19 At the turn of the 20th century, only the mega-rich had refrigerators or cars. But refrigerators are now all but universal in the United States, even while refrigerator inequality continues to grow. The Sub-Zero PRO 48, which the manufacturer calls “a monument to food preservation,” costs about $11,000, compared with a paltry $350 for the IKEA Energisk B18 W. The lived difference, however, is rather smaller than that between having fresh meat and milk and having none…
The general effect of the democratization of luxury is to increase demand among the wealthy for nonmanufacturable, inherently scarce “positional goods” whose signal of relative socioeconomic status will not be so swiftly diluted by broad mass-market diffusion.
I think that the main issue with inequality is not the gap between the rich and the poor. It is the gap between the earnings of top business leaders and the salaries of academics and journalists.