# News The wealth gap - 92% of Americans surveyed prefer Sweden over the US

1. Aug 18, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Take the test
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/08/wealth-how-does-the-us-slice-the-pie.html

Video and text

Hopefully my point is obvious. When faced with the facts in terms easy to understand, most Americans believe the distribution of wealth in the US is unfair and unbalanced. As Warren Buffet said, we need to quit coddling billionaires.

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
2. Aug 18, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

I agree that most Americans believe the wealth distribution in the US is unfair and when they know nothing else but wealth distribution, they will pick a more equal one. So where does this take us? What's the point? From this information (particularly given the man-on-the-street interviews!) , *I* would conclude that this poll shows that Americans don't understand the concept and implications of wealth inequality. And I would not be at all surprised by that. What do you think it means?
What does the previous sentence have to do with this one? Why does that poll have anything to do with Buffet's quote and what exactly is meant by "coddling billionaires"? What specific course of action are you recommending based on the poll?

Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
3. Aug 18, 2011

### apeiron

4. Aug 18, 2011

### Tosh5457

Argh Portugal is in 2nd, but we're coming for you USA!

Seriously, are policies to make social inequality very low moral? If I work a lot to get education and money, and my neighboor just sits on his couch watching TV all day, should we have the same income? What's the incentive to make an effort if I knoww that in the end I'll just end up equal to everybody else? What's best for the country in general is not always the best thing to do. Putting alfandegary taxes on many products may be good for the country, but would you like to not be able to buy the things you want from the internet, just because they come from other country?

Northern-european countries, not just Sweden, have a very low social inequality. But they have that because they're very responsible and moral people, or else there would be many people living off on the expenses of others and the system wouldn't take long to change. Needless to say, this would never work in USA. There would be too many people taking advantage of it, while others would be working for them to get benefits, like it happens today. And in the end those people would still complain they don't have enough opportunities, like it happens today.

But taxing more the riches (and not the median class) would be a good policy. Republicans would never allow it to go very far though.

Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2011
5. Aug 18, 2011

### apeiron

Now ain't that the truth.

But instead of derailing the thread by asking about remedies - how we should change things to create greater equality - first we have to be able to identify what is actually optimal.

As ever in a rational world, you start with the right target and work backwards from it. If you start worrying about the pain of making change, then you just will never change.

6. Aug 18, 2011

### apeiron

Strawman arguments are not going to cut it. Let's have a grown-up conversation for a change.

If you read the research, the causation is the other way round.

7. Aug 18, 2011

### Tosh5457

Ok, I can reformulate that for you. Shouldn't effort (which pays off in money) be rewarded? With a very low social inequality it certainly isn't, and the system is prone to abuses.

8. Aug 18, 2011

### daveb

So the U.S. is full of immoral people....somehow, i can't formulate an valid argument against that.

9. Aug 18, 2011

### Tosh5457

That's a logical fallacy. I said responsability and morality can make a low inequality society work, and you're saying since in the USA there's a high inequality, americans aren't moral and responsible people. You can refute that conclusion you just said, but it has nothing to do with my reasoning...

10. Aug 18, 2011

### daveb

Ah, I see you do not understand the power of sarcasm. My bad.

11. Aug 18, 2011

### Greg Bernhardt

I hate when people compare us to Norway or Sweden. Impossible, because both have very small homogeneous populations. Scale them up 30x, inject them with diversity and let's see how smoothly it all runs.

Also when we talk about equality, are we talking about equal opportunity or equal results? I think some are talking about equal results, and that my friend is Communism.

12. Aug 18, 2011

### Tosh5457

Not when that sarcasm is poorly phrased and doesn't make sense in the context. My arguments don't have any logical fallacy, so your sarcasm doesn't make sense...

/offtopic

13. Aug 18, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
You are assuming that the results are the product of equal opportunity. Given that we are on par with China where half the nation is impoverished peasants, perhaps the results suggest that opportunity is not so equal.

What I do know is that inequality of such proportions often leads to civil war, or a coup.

Consider the irony that our system should produce the same wealth distribution as China! How does that make Capitalism any better than Communism?

Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
14. Aug 18, 2011

### Greg Bernhardt

The Chinese government may still be communist, but there is little doubt that it's the capitalistic reforms which drives it's economy.

What do you mean we are on par with China? Their GDP is 1/3 ours. Are you claiming a poor Chinese peasant has the same inherent opportunity as a poor inner city kid in the US?

A poor inner city kid has the same opportunity as a rich kid. The results more times than not will be different and you can debate the reasons why, but the opportunity is the same. Places like China or India (castes) this is not the case.

15. Aug 18, 2011

### ModusPwnd

If wealth grows exponentially, one would expect that as everybody gets wealthier that the gap grows. But this is not indicative of anybody's standard of living going down.

16. Aug 18, 2011

### Mech_Engineer

Do really expect us to take you at your word that in the US:
1. 50% of the population is "impoverished peasants."
2. US "peasants" are on-par with China's.
I lived in China for 5 years and know for a fact this is far from the truth. You'd better start providing proof of your claims.

You'd better provide proof of that too since it's probably bunk. Specifically, prove that wealth inequality leads to civil war and/or a government coup. What caused the last US civil war? Was it wealth inequality?

Consider the irony that you (as a moderator of a scientific forum which specifically prohibits making wild claims without proof) would even claim this without trying to provide some minimum level of data to back it up!

Please note the Per Capita GDP Comparison: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=USA+china

CIA World Factbook (China): https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
17. Aug 18, 2011

### WhoWee

Who are the "impoverished peasants" in the US? From the White House web site.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/101210-tax-relief-african-americans.pdf [Broken]

[/I]"• An estimated 2.2 million African American families will benefit from the expansion
in the EITC and CTC that are extended in this agreement. These credits help roughly
4.7 million African American children or almost half (44%) of all African American
children.
• The extension of Unemployment Insurance will benefit 1.1 million African
Americans. That is why the National Congress of Black Women praised the President
for giving the unemployed a “new lease on life” and a “survival line” through the next 13
months.
Illustrative Example: Working African American mother with three children making $20,000. This family will: • Receive a tax cut of more than$2,100 from extending recent expansions in the EITC and
Child Tax Credit as part of this agreement.
• Receive a $400 tax cut from the new payroll tax cut. • Compared to the Republican alternative, this family will receive a total tax benefit of$2,500 next year. "[/I]

****
Next item:

"• 2.7 African American children will benefit from a larger CTC.
• For many families, extending the minimum threshold in the CTC will result in thousands
of dollars in additional tax benefits that would have otherwise been lost. For example:
o A married couple with three children making $23,000 will receive$3,000 in child
tax credits compared to about $1,540 if only the 2001/2003 tax cuts were extended – an increase of about$1,460. o A single mother with two children making $17,000 will receive$2,000 in child
tax credits compared to about $640 if only the 2001/2003 tax cuts were extended – an increase of about$1,360."

*****
Next item

"The American Opportunity Tax Credit in the Recovery Act:
• The Recovery Act expanded the AOTC so that it now provides up to three times more
relief than was previously available under the Hope Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit
and is refundable for low-income students for the first time.
• The AOTC gives working families and students a \$2,500 per year partially refundable tax
credit to help students and their families cover the cost of college tuition. "

*****
Next item

"The agreement secures an extension of unemployment insurance for an additional 13 months.
Without this extension, 330,600 African Americans looking for work would have lost their
benefits this month alone, and through the end of next year over 1.1 million unemployed African
Americans would have lost their benefits.
• Extending unemployment benefits provides crucial economic security to American
families. A recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers found that while 14
million people received federally supported unemployment insurance benefits through October 2010, an additional 26 million people living in their households benefitted
indirectly."

*****

Are we really on par with China Ivan - with regards to helping the "impoverished peasants" in the US?

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
18. Aug 18, 2011

### SamRoss

What is it, 99% of everyone's DNA is identical? People are basically the same wherever you go. Systems, on the other hand, are different. I don't see any reason to believe that whatever they're doing in Sweden wouldn't work in the US. Yes, let's tax the rich and let the Republicans go off in the corner and sulk.

19. Aug 18, 2011

### SamRoss

I actually saw this before. It's not surprising. When you look at all the polls, people in this country really are more liberal than you would think. I just can't understand why they keep voting Republican.

20. Aug 18, 2011

### RudedawgCDN

lol I have to chuckle whenever I see someone say "system is prone to abuses..."

Your whole tax system/code is "prone to abuses"

Your whole political system / government lobbying is "prone to abuses"

Your Wall Street and banking system is "prone to abuses"

The whole reason your economy is in the tank right now is because the American way of doing things...

It's just seems that when rich people, bankers and wall street snake oil salesmen abuse the system it's "business as usual" and they get a slap on the wrist - but when poor people try to "abuse the system" well... their leeches and their "ruining the country".

Somehow I think Wall Street Brokers did a lot more to cause this last recession than some guy in Las Vegas living on unemployment.