Figuring out what’s “fair”

Invectus tries to rationalize the ‘Occupy’ mobs in Meritocracy vs. Plutocracy. The essay is a good sample for inspection as it avoids hyperbole and flaming and provides charts and graphs and such impressive ‘data points’ to support the author’s thesis.

“My bottom line: OWS is not anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic, socialist or Marxist. It is about restoring the unfortunate but somewhat necessary accepted degree of unfairness/inequality that prevailed in this country for generations and, importantly, about demanding that the rule of law be applied uniformly (a quaint notion that exited stage “right” during the Bush administration and remains MIA during Obama’s) and not selectively on the masses while the political and Wall St. elites run amok.”

So what’s wrong?

The first thing to do is to look at the presumptions and the nature of the measures. The primary presumption is about an “unfairness/inequity” that has “prevailed in this country for generations.” Another presumption is an implication that the rule of law is not applied uniformly, especially during the Bush administration.

The measure of fairness and inequity is where the charts and graphs come in. They show changes in an index of “income inequality” over the years, growth in average after tax income by income group, “labor’s share of the spols,” output versus compensation, household income and poverty rate, and food stamp participation.

The referent can be seen in the headline “How’d the Gini index get so out of wack?” The key point missing is that the definitions of poor are getting more strained over time, especially in the U.S. and the fact that there is no inherent limit to what someone can earn other than government.

While the top 1% have been doing just fine, thank you, median incomes have gone nowhere in over a decade while both poverty and food stamp usage have both been on the rise.

What is not considered is that, while the “top 1% have been doing just fine,” so have the 99% below them. That is why many of the Occupy mob participants have fancy tents to pretend to sleep in and laptops, cell phones, gensets, and other apparatus to keep them comfortable.

The essay concludes that “OWS is not anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic, socialist or Marxist” but it gives a lie to this. It illustrates an envy of those who are better off that is expressed as suspicion and allegation coupled with a demand that something be done to make things more even in terms of wealth sharing. The reason that the ‘something to be done’ is left vague is because anything specific would make it clear just how socialist the desire really is.

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