We should hold those who pontificate in public to a certain standard. That standard, so high and unachievable, being that they should know something concerning the subject they decide to pontificate about. Owen Jones being a useful enough example as he complains here about wealth inequality. The point being that he doesn’t understand that the very things he complains about are normal. Further, we already do a lot to change what he’s complaining about, something that he doesn’t take into account – yes, he violates Worstall’s Fallacy.
The injustice of Britain’s wealth inequality is matched only by the lack of ambition in tackling it. According to the Commission on Economic Justice, which was set up by the IPPR thinktank, the wealthiest 10% of households own 45% of the nation’s collectively created wealth. For the bottom half, the figure is a paltry 9%. The richest 1,000 individuals can boast a combined fortune greater than the wealth of the poorest 40%, and in 2016 their wealth jumped by £82.5bn – which, as the Equality Trust points out, is the equivalent of £2,615 per second. Only an economy as dysfunctional and rotten as our own can produce insecurity and stagnation for the majority but boom-time for so few.
Actually, all economies do this. This is normal. Saez and Zucman are the empirical researchers in this field of wealth inequality and they say about wealth distributions:
The second key result of our analysis involves the dynamics
of the wealth share of the bottom 90%. Since the bottom half of the
distribution always owns close to zero wealth on net,
This is just normal. It’s also wrong. For:
Our definition of wealth includes all pension wealth—
whether held in individual retirement accounts, or through pension
funds and life insurance companies—with the exception of
Social Security and unfunded defined benefit pensions.4 Although
Social Security matters for saving decisions, the same is true for
all promises of future government transfers. Including Social
Security in wealth would thus call for including the present
value of future Medicare benefits, future government education
spending for one’s children, etc., net of future taxes. It is not clear
where to stop, and such computations are inherently fragile because
of the lack of observable market prices for these types of
assets. Unfunded defined benefit pensions are promises of future
payments that are not backed by actual wealth. The vast majority
(94% in 2013) of unfunded pension entitlements are for government
employees (federal and local), thus are conceptually similar
to promises of future government transfers, and just like those
are better excluded from wealth.
We already do rather a lot to reduce wealth inequality. The state pension for example, that’s a reduction in pensions inequality. Cheap housing reduces housing inequality. But in our estimations of wealth inequality we do not correct for these things that we already do to reduce wealth inequality. We’re not even including the taxation that wealth currently pays.
That is, the evidence base Owen Jones is using is nonsense and the reason he’s using it is ignorance. Meaning Owen Jones rather fails our certain standard, that public pontificators have a clue about the subject they pontificate upon.
Sure, there’s a defence available which is that they’re not trying to explain or elucidate but only to propagandise. Fair enough then but that does also mean we’ve not got to pay the slightest attention, doesn’t it?