David R. Henderson  

Saturday Morning Video: Economic Inequality

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This is a very high-quality (audio-video wise--you judge the content) of my recent talk at Baylor University on economic inequality.

Thanks to Peter Klein for inviting me.


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COMMENTS (11 to date)
Greg G writes:

I judge the content to be superb. Very well prepared and delivered.

David R Henderson writes:

@Greg G,
Thanks so much.

Thaomas writes:

Is there a transcript yet?

David R Henderson writes:

@Thaomas,
No, and I strongly doubt that anyone will have the incentive to make one.

Nick Ronalds writes:

Interesting lecture, very well delivered. You have learned how to hold an audience's interest, e.g., by asking questions, and keeping the pace and content both varied and interesting (e.g. with photos).

David R Henderson writes:

@Nick Ronalds,
Thanks much.

Outstanding! Thanks! Unfortunately I think the facts won't change many minds. As Dr. Henderson said, Picketty, Stiglitz and others simply don't care how people got their wealth. Jonathan Haidt in Righteous Mind proves it. They care about inequality and nothing else at all. Helmut Schoeck demonstrated that such an attitude comes from envy in his Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior. Facts have no power over envy. Schoeck and Larry Siedentop (Inventing the Individual) show that only Christianity has dented envy anywhere or anytime in history. Capitalism cut inequality as measured by the Gini index from 90 in 1800 to about 50 in 1900 and then to 30 by 1960, according to Robert Fogel in Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, but the left simply doesn't care.

David R Henderson writes:

@Roger D. McKinney,
Outstanding! Thanks!
Thanks and you’re welcome.
Unfortunately I think the facts won't change many minds.
I’m less convinced of that than you.
Helmut Schoeck demonstrated that such an attitude comes from envy in his Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior.
Excellent book. I reread it about 10 years ago after having previously read it almost 40 years before that.
Capitalism cut inequality as measured by the Gini index from 90 in 1800 to about 50 in 1900 and then to 30 by 1960, according to Robert Fogel in Escape from Hunger and Premature Death,
Thanks for that fact. I hadn’t known that.
but the left simply doesn't care.
I think that’s too broad a statement. Most of the left might not care. I would bet that some of them do or would.

Most of the left might not care. I would bet that some of them do or would.

I agree. There are always young people near the edges that are willing to listen to the truth and come in from the cold. But I think that a return to the freedoms we once enjoyed will require a revival of traditional Christianity for the reasons Siedentop and Schoeck give.

PS, Hayek has an interesting section near the end of Fatal Conceit in which he discusses the importance of religion to maintaining freedom. He says that most people will never learn any formal economics and so need some authority to persuade them to follow principles for which they can see no short term benefit to them personally. Those principles include the rule of law and respect for property. He wrote that religion had provided that authority in the past. Oddly, he makes the mistake of suggesting that non-believers trump up a religion they can believe in and that promotes freedom, property and free markets.

nick ronalds writes:

The arguments above about the importance of religion to an appreciation of capitalism don't convince me. I was raised without religion and am an atheist, and was a leftist as a teenager and young man--mindlessly following my peers and my atheist parents (I'm a boomer btw). I became convinced of the rightness of capitalism mostly from taking economics late in college and grasping its utilitarian ethical implications (prices weren't just a fascist conspiracy!), and later, about the libertarian ethical arguments about the right to own the products of one's own labor, etc. I didn't, and don't, see the necessity of Christianity or other religion for appreciating the advantages of freedom, certainly from a utilitarian ethical standpoint. And obviously, the current Pope among others (including some of his predecessors) shows that Christianity is not inconsistent with belief in collectivist solutions.

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