On Sunday’s This Week on ABC, editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, lamented the state of our national conversation, asking:
I think these discussions about Bill Maher and the Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney, much of that plays into a view that our politics are failing to deal with the massive deep-seeded problems this country has, whether it’s how do you send your kid to college or how do you not get evicted from your home? Or why do we have inequality akin to Egypt’s?
Unfortunately, the United States’s economic inequality isn’t actually akin to Egypt’s — it’s worse. The most common metric is the Gini coefficient, which ranges from 0 (representing complete equality) and 100 (representing complete inequality). According to the CIA World Factbook, the U.S.’s is 45, while Egypt’s is 34.4 — which may not sound like a huge difference, but it’s pretty substantial, since countries tend to clump in the middle, nowhere close to 0 or 100. In fact, out of the 192 countries in the world, the U.S. and Egypt are 49 places apart. Not exactly close or “akin.”
Mrs. Vanden Heuvel may have just been grasping for an exotic-sounding country that would make the U.S.’s economic situation sound more disturbing — or she may have been hinting at the ludicrous argument that the Occupy Wall Street protests were close cousins of the Arab Spring, and represent a common and enduring unhappiness with the Western economic system, a concept her own magazine has been nonsensically promoting of late.