Saturday, October 2, 2010

"My Analysis: It's Time to Harvest the Crust From Your Eyes"

Why income distribution can't be crowd-sourced. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine
Americans' ignorance about wealth (and, probably, income) distribution is encouraging in the sense that it offers hope that most voters might opt for government policies more conducive to equality if only they knew how unequal things were. But it's dismaying in the sense that people who occupy a position of relative privilege seem to go out of their way to avoid acknowledging it. A recent example is M. Todd Henderson, a law professor at the University of Chicago whose annual household income exceeds $250,000, putting him comfortably ahead of 98 percent of his fellow Americans. Henderson was foolish enough to write a blog post venturing that even though he and his wife earn more than $250,000, his Hyde Park neighbor Barack Obama shouldn't raise his taxes because "we can't afford it" after paying the mortgage, the kids' private school tuition, the nanny, etc. You can imagine the response he got. Henderson, who promptly took the post down (futile in this era of Web caches) used the occasion to excavate deeper wells of self-pity ("The electronic lynch mob that has attacked and harassed me—you should see the emails sent to me personally!—has made my family feel threatened and insecure…. You have caused untold damage to me personally"). Henderson said he was sorry—not for making asinine claims about how much money you need to get by in America, but for violating his wife's privacy by splashing details of their financial lives all over the Internet. (He said his wife "disagrees vehemently with my opinion." Sensible woman.)
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