Scott Sumner on inequality

Lots of good stuff here:

I probably care less about income inequality than the average progressive.  I think that’s partly because I’ve known lots of lower income people, and I’ve almost never found it to be the case that their income was the central problem in their lives.  (Although it certainly is a problem–which is why I favor some income redistribution.)  On the other hand, the sample I’ve known is very biased, and unrepresentative of all poor people.  I’ve never known a migrant farm worker.  Another reason I put less weight on income inequality is that money has always mattered less to me than to the average person, even when I had very little (age 18-26).  Again, my view is slightly biased, as being poor and young is quite different from being poor and middle-aged.


But I do think I care as much about human suffering as the average progressive.  Almost every day I wonder where the outrage is over 400,000 drug users in jail.  By comparison, over the past 5 years I’ve read dozens of stories about the 400 terror suspects at Guantanamo.  Yes, the issues are different in many respects, but I still see a lack of proportion.  The drug war may be our greatest unnecessary loss of utility, showing up big not just in lost liberty, but also unnecessary pain from diseases, and more crime and violence.


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