Thursday, June 26, 2008
The most reliable indicator of relative justice or injustice in any society is the measure of income distribution, And the most accurate index of relative income distribution in modern societies is the Gini Coefficient.
An extremely well-written Wikipedia article explains it this way: The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion most prominently used as a measure of inequality of income distribution or inequality of wealth distribution. It is defined as a ratio with values between 0 and 1: A low Gini coefficient indicates more equal income or wealth distribution, while a high Gini coefficient indicates more unequal distribution. 0 corresponds to perfect equality (everyone having exactly the same income) and 1 corresponds to perfect inequality (where one person has all the income, while everyone else has zero income).
A historical overview of the Gini Coefficient in this country would show it at relatively high levels in the early part of the twentieth century, with the most severe inequality occurring just before the onset of the Great Depression. From the time of the first Roosevelt administration the coefficient gradually fell, as an increasingly progressive income tax and the advent of Social Security redistributed the national income.
It reached an all-time low (highest level of equality) of .386 under the administration of Lyndon Johnson. Starting with Nixon, the tendency toward income inequality, i.e., the tendency of the rich to grow richer and the poor to grow poorer, began to increase. This tendency was exacerbated under Reagan and has reached absolutely unsustainable proportions under the Current Occupant, reaching an all-time high of .47 in 2006, the most recent year for which the index is available.
No other industrialized country has income inequality approaching anything near what exists in this country.
When a modern nation exhibits this level of inequality, it means the mass of citizens is necessarily indebted and impoverished, and unable to provide themselves with life's necessities. In our case, the necessity we are most critically unable to provide ourselves with is medical care.
This is a symptom of a populace that has been stripped of political power. Lack of power is the problem; acquisition of power is the cure.
If the corporate oligarchy will not give us back the political power that we as free citizens used to have, we will have to take it by force. It's the only way we can return a government to Washington that is willing to act in our interests, rather than the interests of a privileged few.
Without economic democracy, political democracy doesn't mean a goddam thing.
Mao Tse Tung once wrote that all political power comes out of the barrel of a gun. I don't agree with that, because in the present case, violence against a caste of oligarchs who have a police state at their disposal, while justified, would be self-destructive. However, as Gandhi and M.L. King taught, there is more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, peel the thick layers of fat off the top of a corrupted ruling class.