Mind Blown

It is absolutely mind-blowing to me how many events contributed to the rise in inequality.  Reading Noah’s book The Great Divergence and his chapters about the possible factors that have led to the “Great Divergence” has shocked me.  After finishing the chapter, “The Fall of Detroit”, I realize that what is being analyzed is much larger than I originally conceived.  And, to be honest, the fragility of our economic system will continue to be unfathomable to me.

I do not understand how this class continues to surprise me.  I am learning about a topic that I previously had minimal interest in; now I devour the information!  

This is a jumble of thoughts……. my apologies if they do not flow or make sense.

The Rise of the Stinking Rich

Ah, yet another Noah chapter.  They are great, I must say!  Anywho, this chapter discusses an even more pressing “Great Divergence”: the rise of the top 10%.  His evidence shows that as the quintiles become narrower, the rate at which the incomes increase is dramatic, and that amount of the nation’s income grows.  (That sentence made absolutely ZERO sense.  My apologies.)  So basically, as Noah states, “the richer you are, the faster you expand your slice of your country’s income” (Noah 147).

This chapter is outlining the gradual takeover the top 10% has had over the nation’s income; the richest people are becoming richer and I’m not sure how we are going to stop it!

Noah also defines who has gotten richer: chief executives.  Is this surprising?  Not really.

At the end of the chapter, he mentions that he has assumed up to this point that income inequality is undesirable in a democratic society, but that in Chapter 10 he intends to discuss why it is not something to fret about.  I am curious what he has to say!

Kudoka

I read Chapter 5 In Noah’s wonderful book, The Great Divergence, and it intrigued me.  Before I get into the subject matter, let me just appreciate the clarity and conciseness of the book.  His book is very clear and concise! I’m joking, ha ha.  But seriously, I appreciate his simple terms and clear ideas; he knows how to “dumb down” the subject enough where he clearly gets his point across and avoids making me feel like an English major that shouldn’t be taking an economics class.

Now, back to the subject at hand. . . the downfall of the middle class!

The middle class is slowly disappearing as the middle-class-income jobs are disappearing.  Thanks to improvements in technology, humans are being replaced by computers/computers that can do their jobs for a cheaper price.  Sadly, this is contributing to the growing gap between the rich and the poor/the rise in inequality in the US.  Yay!

Noah’s clear arguments and evidence makes this subject incredibly easy and surprisingly enjoyable to learn about!

Correct Minimum Wage

Ah, what a question.  Is there an answer?  I have read lots of articles lately by people that think they know the answer to such a loaded question.  Here is my own (less informed) response!

In my opinion . . . dun dun dun . . . I think that the minimum wage should be somewhere around $10.00, just like Obama proposes.  I say this for a number of reasons.

1. It would greatly improve the quality of life of the families whose source of income is at the minimum wage.

2. A raise in the minimum wage would not induce that drastic of a change in the economy.

3. Eliminating it would make our incomes completely dependent on the market and our employers.  Now, I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel pretty uneasy!

4. Providing a baseline income for workers is important for the welfare of low class families.

 

So there’s that . . . not quite sure if that is economically correct, but that is where I stand on the issue!

 

Absolute Standard of Living vs. Equality: Final Opinion

In my second paper for this course, I argued in favor of the importance of equality, or the equality of opportunity, rather than the absolute standard of living.  I still stand by that opinion for moral reasons.  It is our duty to care for and help the lower classes attain more equal standing in this economy.

I realize that when arguing for this side, I highlight the benefits of equality for the lower class but completely ignore the consequences for the wealthy; I also concede that simply by raising the standard of living, we could eliminate the negative effects of taking resources away from the wealthy and improve the standard of living for everyone.  My only issue with that idea is that there would still be a significant amount of inequality amongst the classes, which is such a prevalent issue in today’s economy that I want to see it taken care of.  Now, choosing equality may not necessarily solve this issue, but I would feel better knowing that the lower classes would benefit in some way.

Comical Class Presentations

I found it amusing during our presentations of our papers how apparent the political views of my classmates were.  People brought up taxes, the minimum wage, healthcare, and so on.  I’d love to have a class discussion about some of the different policies mentioned for I was itching to make a comment!

If we were to have a class discussion about politics, I’d hope that it would be a discussion, not an argument.  The ability to calmly approach controversial topics is a valuable life skill, and if we were to work on that in our tightly knit seminar, I would be appreciative.

Absolute Equality: It Won’t Work

In my opinion, we simply cannot live in a society/economy where everything is controlled and our resources and incomes are exactly the same.  The idea reminds me all too much of the common dystopian young adult fiction novels (due to my obsession with them) like “The Hunger Games”, “The Giver”, “Matched”, and numerous other titles.  This may be close-minded of me (or just plain uneducated), but I believe that imposing a limit on one’s possible wealth accumulation is too controlling and not feasible.

Now the question is how I will translate this into essay format . . .

Supply and Demand

We’ve been discussing supply and demand for the past few classes, and it has surprised me how much we apply these theories to everyday life.  Obviously we do, as the economy is a constant companion to society, but I’ve never really thought much of these concepts until now.

Honestly, I think that the majority of things we discuss in class are ideas I’ve never given much thought to, which is quite ignorant of me because I should be more interested in the workings and issues of the economy.  Oh well, at least I have this class now to help educate me!

ANYWAYS, supply and demand really does apply to everyday life.  For example, when I went to the dining hall for lunch today there was a fire/fire drill and there was a large crowd of students milling around the building.  I overheard a couple of students say that they were going to head to a different location instead because they didn’t want to wait for the building to open back up; after hearing this, I almost began the walk to the other place before I realized the mistake I was about to make.  Since Seacobeck was temporarily closed, everyone would head to the Nest, making it overly crowded.  The supply was low (Seacobeck) and the demand was high (food), so the price (or the wait time) would increase.  Ah, economics.

Standard of Living Confusion

Well, I’ve just been assigned a paper about whether equality or the absolute standard of living is more important.  I don’t quite understand what that means, so I’ll try to educate myself a little before I rant about it.

Let’s look at both sides of the argument.  If I were to say that equality is the better option, that would be because I think that everyone deserves the same benefits and opportunities.  In a perfect world we would all be the same; however, that is far from reality.  We live in an incredibly imperfect world, where resources and wealth are distributed unequally and nobody has the same chances.  ANYWAYS, perfect equality is ideal, even though I think that it is unattainable.

Now for the other side: the standard of living.  From what I understand of the definition,  it means being comfortable within your means.  I am about 2% sure if that is true or not, so I will refrain from saying anything further to prove myself an idiot!  I will definitely ask my professors to clarify next week!

I suppose this post has served only to show that I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about . . . so now I will go look up the facts so I can make an informed argument!

 

definition found on Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/standard-of-living.asp

What is Fair?

When considering the current issues in our economy today, theorists and economists try to use models or data to show people how and why we went wrong in the past, in order to improve things for the future.  Now, there are obviously multiple factors that have led to the increased gap between the rich and the poor and the terrible distribution of wealth.   Due to all of them, it is incredibly difficult to pinpoint one reason that is causing all our troubles!

Poor economists.

Anyways . . . I suppose the basis for all of our theories and models and attempts at “fixing” our economy is the pursuit of fairness.

Well, what is fair?  Ah, the unanswerable question.  It truly cannot be determined as everyone regards fairness to be different.  I believe that we have certain opinions on fairness due to our diverse backgrounds and experiences, however this poses a problem!  How can we decide how to level the playing field if we are all playing different games?

food for thought . . .

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