Friday, May 07, 2010

Inequality Makes Rich Liberals Unhappy

The Easterlin paradox, as we noted yesterday, finds that above the midpoint, more money does not make people happier.

The complementary macrosocial finding is that inequality in society is not closely correlated with overall happiness. Nor are poor people normally unhappy in unequal societies. Indeed, some of the happiest people in the world, according to Carol Graham's studies in Happiness Around the World, are in sub-Saharan Africa, which are very unequal societies.

Yet happiness studies at the macrosocial level almost always have a big concern with opposing inequality. Where does this concern come from, if not from the actual data on happiness?

From the guilt of rich liberals, especially in rich societies, Graham concludes.


Anonymous said...

The problem is, many white liberals seek to assuage that guilt by taking money from the so-called "rich", also known as the middle class, so they can redistribute the money to the poor and, in their eyes, more deserving.

Rarely are they willing to give away their own wealth. By that I mean, not just giving away some relatively small portion of their money, but rather giving all their wealth to the poor so that they become equal to everyone else. Doesn't happen.

Examples: The Obamas, the Kennedys, Oprah.

Anonymous said...

You never see the rich donating money to the government, it's always to private charity

ata said...

Bingo Anonymous!

Rich liberals want to make the middle class pay for their own liberal guilt. The government screws the middle class because that is where the money is.

The Tea Party group has caught on. That is why the liberal media tries to marginalize them with the charge of rascim rather than debating their ideas.

In November we will see this technique has worked. If it has we will continue to inch or lurch toward the Greece model.

Rebecca said...

Um, compared with all other human all other points in history...the American middle class IS wealthy. And based on these posts, it is also exceedingly greedy and selfish.

ata said...

Really! How so Rebecca and why the animosity?

Katie said...

According to this relative wealth calculator (, making just $40,000 US per year puts you in the top 3.17% of the richest people in the world. I'm guessing that many of the people who consider themselves "middle class" make much more than this. So, Rebecca is right.

If we want to make the world a better place for all people, then the "middle class" needs to spread their wealth around, too.

Robin said...

Rebecca and Katie, you two are examples of why our country is in the mess it is in today.

Mr. obama has spread our wealth around so much that our children, grand children and great grand children will be paying for the tax polcies you and your ilk propose.

My only hope for the country is that you two are naive college kids who have yet to hit the real world.

Katie said...


Sorry to cause you despair, but I'm in my 30's. I don't believe that the world should be equalized. But, I do believe that the extreme and ever-growing disparity between the rich and poor needs to be addressed. I'd be happy just to bring everyone up to a level where basic needs are met. Of course, I'm sure we'll disagree about what constitutes a basic need.

And I hardly think that a college-educated, Christian, mentally-stable, hard-working, kind, responsible, generous person is going to be the downfall of our nation. I'm not a lunatic, or a serial killer, or a terrorist. I'm just someone who wants to help alleviate suffering. How exactly does that make me a person worthy of your scorn?

Anonymous said...


You are perfectly free to give away as much of your own money as you like.

The problem comes when some people in our society decide that they should take money from those who have earned it and redistribute as they see fit.

Let me give you a concrete example. I give money to an organization that provides an education to orphans in Uganda. It's something I am passionate about and I'm happy to give money towards that effort.

You might not agree that my choice is the wisest one or is right for you, so you should be free to make up your own mind about where you want to direct your charitable giving.

Robin said...

Katie I am happy you have a high opinion of yourself and I did not mean to scorn you.

I don't remember Jesus encouraging his followers to press the Roman government to raise taxes so that the wealth could be spread around.

He asks each of us to sacrifice willingly for the needy and by the way not for the greedy.

Anonymous said...

Katie says "...the "middle class" needs to spread their wealth around, too."

Who should get to decide how the money should be spread around, Katie? The government? Or should each person be able to decide how they would like to spend the money they have earned?

What if someone decides they don't want to donate any of their money to others but instead starts a business that employs hundreds or thousands of people? Isn't that helping society?

Anonymous said...

Robin et al, like most Obama voters I'm not in college anymore, but degrading college kids on tax policy doesn't help your cause. Its senior welfare and massive defense budgets that are the real roadblock for future budgetary sanity.

Around 40 cents of every federal tax dollar goes to senior welfare (medicare, social security), and seniors, one of the most demographically conservative groups in the country, would go ballistic if these entitlements were touched.

Additionally the majority of taxpayers have seen a tax cut under President Obama, and virtually no one has seen a tax increase.

et al said...

Let me get this straight. I pay SS taxes for 50 years. When I retire I begain to get some of that tax money back. This makes me a greedy welfare recipient? Now I understand.

Mr. Obama raised taxes on cigarettes the first month in office, mostly on the poor. I quess that doesn't count as a tax increase to you.

Anonymous said...

Et al, taking welfare does not mean you are greedy or that you don't 'deserve' it (they are called entitlements for a reason), though it is revealing that you seem to think so. However, it is true that seniors are by far the largest recipients of federal welfare dollars and they don't want their entitlements cut.

Social Security is the largest government expenditure for any single program and its not set up as a savings account that you put money in now and take the same money out of later,via:
"Taxes from current workers go straight to paying for the benefits of current retirees. Your money is not being “saved” anywhere to be withdrawn later. In 1950, there were 7.3 working-age people for each person over 65; now, the ratio is 4.7 to 1, and it is scheduled to drop to 2.7 to 1 by 2035. That’s a lot less people paying in."

Additionally, I'm also glad to see that all the tea party upset over outrageous tax increases was over a cigarette tax increase, and not over the fact that the middle class is paying historically low tax rates. Thanks for the clarification.

Look et al, et al, deficits aren't high because of lazy freeloaders or unhappy liberals. They are high because politicians (thanks to voter's wishes) don't have gumption to either raise taxes or cut spending in a meaningful way, and simply put the only way to cut spending in any real way is to reform social security, medicare and reduce defense spending.

Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself

et al said...

Last anonymous,

You seem snide and bitter but I hope that is not the case.

My main point is that liberals always like to be generous with other people's money. Help away my friend but use your money.

Your links are bad so I will have to reject your reality and accept my own.