A mini-questionnaire on inequality

Here is a posting that will appear in three parts on successive days. It is a kind of mini-questionnaire:

Consider someone who receives income at the level of the 10th highest percentile of the working population and compare it with the someone whose income is at the 90th percentile. Obviously one will be a multiple of the other.

What level of multiple would make you uncomfortable?

(The idea is just that people consider the question. People can post an answer if they like. A second question will be posed tomorrow.)


  1. The drive towards ‘lower inequality’
  2. BBC propaganda about inequality
  3. The ‘pauperisation’ of the elderly
  4. The Spirit Level – “trash social science”
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3 Responses to A mini-questionnaire on inequality

  1. Tim Skinner says:

    That one person’s income is a multiple of another’s is of no concern to me.

    People are unequal in many different ways and for many different reasons. The important thing to me is that people are free to select and pursue their own ends in life and not forced to serve state or other ends, except voluntarily as a means to their own.

    In any case, interfering with the free market interferes with capital accumulation and allocation, and over time likely makes the poor poorer. Wealthier people provide the capital which enables everyone to lead richer, more fulfilled lives.

    I expect most people would consider such a question of discomfort in the context of their own country: I wonder how many would apply whatever answer they give to the world at large?

    I believe concern for those poorer than ourselves is a matter of personal interest and that charity has moral virtue. There is no moral virtue in paying taxes or having one’s possessions, material or otherwise, forcibly removed in any other way, whatever the use to which they are later applied.

    Charity is also something that can be dispensed by anyone, in kind if not in cash, however rich or poor: it is not simply a matter of wealth.

  2. I used to work for a major international oil company and I remember wondering, back in the 1980′s, whether the chief executive was really worth twenty of his middle-ranking staff. Now the figure is much greater, but I’m not sure that the CEO worked any less hard in those days than the present one does (or less effectively for that matter).

    I don’t have any problem with entrepreneurs becoming billionaires, but I’m glad that major shareholders in public companies (who mostly represent thousands of pension savers anyway) are beginning to question whether these guys are really worth what their remuneration committees reckon they are.

  3. David says:

    Inequality is not just about salary some people have much lower housing costs than others.

    About inequality, inequality is not the issue do people get fair wages
    Obviously some chiet execs are getting too much – or very underpaid in the past.

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