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Justice (legal equality)

Legal inequalities: gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, mental/physical condition

For each of these characteristics, there are differences in treatment and outcomes in the legal system. For example:

  • rich people can afford better lawyers than poor people and are much more likely to receive the death penalty for the same crimes
  • straight white males get jobs more easily than transgender people of color
  • Muslims get banned from countries with Christian majorities
  • sick people can’t get health insurance (except for what seems like the brief interlude of Obamacare).

Another example: I pay social security taxes on all of my income. My very wealthy brother pays social security taxes on only a small proportion of his income. February 16 is the day that Americans like him with wages of $1 million or more stop paying into Social Security for the year.

Center for Economic and Policy Research’s A Late Valentine for Millionaires? Those Making $1,000,000 a Year Stop Paying Into Social Security on February 16th

Not me! I’ll pay my 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax all year long.

Slate’s What It’s Like to Be Black in the Criminal Justice System

We know what reality is. Should we strive for equality or equity? What about just removing the barriers?

Income and wealth inequality in America

The graph below connects two measures: economic mobility and wealth inequality. It comes from Miles Corak’s blog Economics for Public Policy.

The countries toward the lower left corner, including Australia (and the Netherlands, where the Gini coefficient is between Sweden’s and Germany’s), have less wealth inequality than the countries toward the top right corner. They also provide greater opportunity for their young people to be richer than their parents.

Do you think one of those things causes the other? Or are they both caused by something else?

As the gap between the rich and poor increases (to the right on the horizontal axis), the ability to be richer than your parents decreases (higher on the vertical axis).

Corporate Welfare (wikipedia)

A government’s bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment on corporations or selected corporations.

Corporate welfare might be restricted only to direct government subsidies of major corporations, excluding tax loopholes and all manner of regulatory and trade decisions, which, in practice, could be much larger than any direct subsidies.

In the United States, agricultural subsidies are usually portrayed as helping independent farmers stay afloat. However, the majority of income gained from commodity support programs actually goes to large agribusiness corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland, as they own a considerably larger percentage of production.

“Crony capitalism”

“Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor”

“Privatizing profits and socializing losses” (gov’t “bailouts”)

The two lists, left and above right, show corporate welfare by each Federal government agency.

The list below right shows the largest corporate welfare recipients.






One Economic Theory to Explain Everything
by Noah Smith
Bloomberg Views, January 8, 2015

Income (measured by purchasing power parity) has skyrocketed in emerging middle-class countries such as China in the last few decades, while middle-class individuals in rich countries such as the U.S. haven’t done so well. … Industrialization isn’t a smooth process, each time a new country makes its development sprint, the existing rich countries experience a growth slowdown.

Viewed from a worldwide perspective, people’s wealth has increased all over the globe. The most desperately poor (far left) have seen more increase, as a percentage of their income in 1998, than the U.S. lower middle class. The middle group, much of it in China, has grown the most. The people who were very rich before, that is the U.S. and European middle class, have seen the lowest growth of all. The world’s richest people (far right) have seen 65% growth.

Theory of Everything

Theory of Everything