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January 21, 2020


Patrick Kikr

Seems a bit unreasonable. Its very hard to help the very poorest. I counselled newly released ex-offenders and they live in chaotic communities where steady work is just hard to manage. I'm not sure any government help will change the fact that some people are just unlucky and live in disastrous family circumstances with friendship groups that don't encourage work and as a result showing up for a job is hard for them.


If a political party were to aim at boosting real incomes for the 0-10th percentiles as its primary objective, and did nothing else, which policies would it adopt?


The great Chris Rock. Truly a very wise man.


Gini scores are usually presented in two columns: (1) the score BEFORE the government taxes and transfers wealth, and (2) the score AFTER the government taxes and transfers wealth. Mostly people only look at the score in column (2). If it’s too high, they urge even greater government action. But maybe we should think harder about the scores in column (1).

Why is it that Iceland and South Korea have relatively low Gini scores in column (1), while France has a relatively high score? France gets its score in column (2) down to the average for an EU/OECD country, but only with very high government spending (currently 56% of GDP). It’s as if Iceland and South Korea can score high on a test for physical fitness, even if they don’t bother to exercise or watch their diet; while France can only achieve a comparable score if it goes to the gym every day and rigidly controls its diet. Some basic features of Icelandic and South Korean societies make them relatively anti-fragile when it comes to inequality. And it’s probably worthwhile understanding what those features are.

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