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What is inequality?
by Jay Gutman
2016-10-12 11:27:26
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What is equality? Freedom means one’s ability to carry out his or her intended actions. In ideally equal societies, one can carry out their own actions as long as they are not preventing other individuals from carrying out their own actions. For example, that one can have his beer as long as he’s not preventing his colleagues or children from going to work, can listen to music while sipping his beer as long as the volume doesn’t prevent other people from going about their business.

ine01What is inequality? Simply put it means that some can have that beer and others can’t. Put in more complex terms, inequality comes in the form of social inequality (some guys bossing other individuals around and preventing the other individuals from saying what’s on their mind) or economic inequality, that is some individuals having easier access to wealth than others.

In an ideal society I can say exactly what’s on my mind, but also allow others to tell me exactly what’s on theirs, without needing recourse to euphemisms or gestures. In most societies however, it’s either men who don’t allow women to say what’s on their mind, adults who don’t allow children to say what’s on their mind, or a CEO who won’t allow a secretary to say what’s on his mind.

More concretely, social inequality can come in the forms of unequal access to healthcare, education, school grades (girls get the As in the arts, boys get the As in the sciences), public venues or facilities (the guys always get to use the sports and music facilities that were paid for by female taxpayers among others) or civilian protection.

Social inequality can lead to economic equality. Men tend to be more assertive than women when asking for loans, citing their college education and other nonsense as guarantees that their business will work, when women with the same degrees get denied loans for simpler, more cautious, more straightforward businesses. In some societies, some jobs are reserved for men, others for women and minorities.

Inequality does have its complexities. We often think of inequality in terms of gender, nationality or ethnicity, perhaps age, but rarely in terms of geographic location. Men tend to be wealthier than women but are more prone to gamble their life savings on a drunken night, foreign citizens have less access to some of the riskier employment with high wage fluctuations (in most countries foreign citizens are denied loans and need to invest very large sums of money to legally start a business, meaning they opt for safer occupations). Older people tend to be wealthier than younger people but then younger people have less trouble getting out of bed and don’t have to worry about retirement.

Perhaps the largest predictor of income inequality is geographic location. The larger and more crowded the city, the higher the chances you will land a high-paying job. The smoother the transportation networks within that geographic area the easier it is for money to flow. The more people transit through your city the more likely you will earn high income. These are the three main factors that contribute to income inequality (population, transportation and transiting populations).   


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Emanuel Paparella2016-10-12 15:10:59
One wonders: does a desire, or lack thereof, for justice and solidarity contribute in any way to income equality or inequality, or is it all a matter of planning, logistics, numbers and statistics?

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