# 93!

From the Business Insider:

The oft heard ‘We’re #1 USA’ is actually #93 on the Gini coefficient (a measure of income equality and in this case household income).

Beaten by #45 Egypt, 82 million people, a failed state which received $2 billion US yearly in US aid, a victim of English and French imperialism.

Beaten by #56 India, 1,241 million people, a failed state with rigid socio-religious castes, a victim of Danish, English, French and Portuguese imperialism.

Beaten by #81 China, 1344 million people, a failed state and the previous sick man of Asia, a victim of American, Austrian, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian imperialism.

Beaten by #82 Russia, 142 million people, the failed Soviet empire.

And beaten by #92 Iran, 75 million people, the ‘terrorist nuclear power’, a victim of American, English and Russian imperialism.

So, does that make the USA a failed (or failing) state also?

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7 thoughts on “# 93!

  1. In 2010 both both Bangladesh and the Netherlands had an income Gini index of 0.31 in 2010. Is the Netherlands a failed state too?

    Or, perhaps, we should stop asking inane questions.

    • Income gini can be used as a very rough guide to assess the failing of a state. There will be outliers like Hong Kong (stable, high gini) and Bangladesh (low gini, unstable). Muddling the analysis is a host of states which are failed or failing with intermediate gini values. What does income gini tell us directly & what can be realistically inferred? Since we know the US is a developed & rich state, a high gini speaks (generally) to increasing wealth disparity. Wealth disparity [http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4?op=1] often aids state failure when the disparity becomes too great for the lowest earners to satisfy basic needs. The income gini has an oscillating correlation with state failure so the question seems inane. What I would argue however, is that a high (income) gini coupled with the present state of the US economy (~15% on food stamps), indicates a failing of the state. While I hope the question is inane, I suspect it isn’t.

  2. Gini tells us countless absurd things, and while it is fun to play around with the numbers there’s little serious acknowledgment from the academic community that it’s a terribly useful indicator. Wildly different incomes are abused to fit a single, if easy-to-digest, number.

    It seems absurd to suggest that because some citizens live in the same country as vastly richer citizens the former are less well-off but that is exactly what Gini does. Oftentimes, the Gini will even make the equivocation that some people (like in the Netherlands) are better off in the developing world than in their unquestionably comfy lifestyle.

    The problem is that wealth is not as relative as the Gini presupposes. I think we all would pick to earn 50,000 a year and live next to Bill Gates than make 49,999 a year and live next to a poorer relation. Yet the Gini seems to posit that the country where I make 49,999 is substantially better for my economic well-being, which is absurd. In fact, it could be possible for a country to score a 100 on the index and yet still do substantially more for their poor than a country that scores .01 and does nothing.

    In fact, as many have pointed out the Gini does little to count the welfare nets that exist in the developed world. How much money would it take to buy a Medicaid account, or Social Security Account, on the open market? I’m guessing tens of thousands of dollars. What sort of value is that, and why is it not counted for part of the assets held by those who qualify for those accounts? Who knows, but I’d be very curious to see if the Gini index for the developed word leaves the developing behind.

  3. The Gini coefficient does not mean much. The high Gini coefficient in the USA is because the rich are very rich. The poor in the USA are also poor, but no poorer than the large numbers of poor African Muslims living in Sweden.

    • But doesn’t the degree and abundance of poverty in the US indicative of another problem? How can you call yourself #1 when you willfully sustain and promote multiple slave classes within your own borders? The Gini might not mean much but it does mean wealth disparity. And since the wealthy in the US are filthy rich, I would call this a state failing. The poor US gini to me indicates the continual suppression of segments of the populace for the benefit of the wealthy. That’s not the action of a stable country IMO.

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