The Corner

Re: Income Inequality

I can’t resist the opportunity to explain the Gini coefficient, which is the

usual measure of equality of income (or any other individual attribute) in a

population. Ready? Here goes. Take the entire population and make them

stand in a line, equally spaced apart. They must stand by increasing order

of income (or whatever), with those persons having least at the far left,

those having the most at far right. Now take a walk along the line from

left to right, carrying a clipboard, pencil, and pocket calculator. Keep

adding up the income of the people you pass. When you have traveled

one-hundredth of the way along the line, write down the total so far.

Repeat at two one-hundredths, three one-hundredths,… all the way to the

end. The last number you write, at 100 one-hundredths (i.e. the rightmost

end of the line) will be the grand total income for the population. Now

plot an x-y graph, with the x’s being 1/100, 2/100, 3/100,… and the y’s

being the corresponding totals from your clipboard AS A PERCENTAGE OF THE

GRAND TOTAL. If there is perfect income equality, the graph will be a

straight line going from bottom left to top right. Halfway along the line,

you would have tallied half the grand total income, and so on. Perfect

INequality–the situation where one person has all the income and no-one

else has anything–will be a flat horizontal line along the x-axis doing an

instantaneous vertical rise at the far right. The area between these two

extremes is an isosceles right-angled triangle. Any actual graph will be a

concave-downward curve inside this triangle, moored at bottom left and top

right. The area between this curve and the hypoteneuse, as a percentage of

the total area of the triangle, measures inequality. Total equality: zero.

Total inequality: 100. The USA was running a Gini of about 40 on income

distribution last time I looked, which is highish for OECD countries. The

Scandinvians are down in the 20s, places like Brazil up in the 60s.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Building a National American Conservatism

It seems like just yesterday that I undertook my first campaign for public office. I knocked on virtually every door in the small city of West Miami in my bid to be elected to its city commission. It was during that campaign, on the front porches and in the living rooms of the families I would ultimately ... Read More

Confirm Pompeo

What on earth are the Democrats doing? President Trump has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo, eminently qualified by any reasonable standard, to be America’s 70th secretary of state. And yet the Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, have perverted the advice and consent clause of the Constitution into a ... Read More

The Mournful, Magnificent Sally Mann

‘Does the earth remember?" The infinitely gifted photographer Sally Mann asks this question in the catalogue of her great retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington. On view there is her series of Civil War battlefield landscapes, among the most ravishing works of art from the early 2000s. Once sites ... Read More
PC Culture

People Are Losing Their Minds Over Starbucks

We can all easily imagine circumstances in which a manager of a coffee shop or restaurant might properly call the police to ask them to remove loiterers. These are places of business. There’s nothing wrong in principle with calling the cops on non-customers who are taking up space. And there’s nothing wrong ... Read More
PC Culture

The Dark Side of the Starbucks Stand-Down

By now the story is all over America. Earlier this month, two black men entered a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were apparently waiting for a friend before ordering — the kind of thing people do every day — and one of the men asked to use the restroom. A Starbucks employee refused, saying the restroom ... Read More

Save the Eighth

There are many things to admire in Ireland’s written constitution. Most especially, the text includes, since a popular referendum in 1983, the Eighth Amendment: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to ... Read More
White House

The Comey & Mueller Show

It has been a good week for President Trump. Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz provided indisputable evidence that former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe lied at least four key times and was fired by the attorney general for cause -- and that Mr. Trump had nothing to do with it. McCabe and ... Read More