Opportunity and Outcome

The problem is that, in our society, even with formal equality of opportunity, you can predict with some accuracy someone’s outcome by knowing morally arbitrary facts about them. If there really were equality of opportunity in New Zealand, outcomes may not be equal, but they would also not be predictable…

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New Capitalist Pyramid


A pretty good updated version of the famous old capitalist pyramid (below). The difference between the two shows the difference between the realities of capitalism (and socialism as a reaction to it) in the days of Marx and today. (Click here for a larger version of the new one.)

I believe the most important difference is the globalisation of the economy and the corollary outsourcing of poverty. While in the 19th century, one could, say, take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London


…and see the people suffering at the bottom of the capitalist heap, these days you can only really see them on TV, and even then you have to go out of your way to find out about it, and even then there’s such a long causal string between your actions and their suffering that you don’t feel responsible or potent to do anything about it. Part of that is the media, of course, which is why us Westerners are so happy to be wedged in between the soldiers and the police.

Missing from this new pyramid, I think, are the politicians, who should be standing just behind the police, as I don’t think they’re quite represented by the guy at the top (at least in New Zealand; the US is a different matter).

Here’s the old discrete-nations pyramid:

Must Be Funny

Sorry, this is the best pic I could find.

Would you rather earn $50,000 a year while other people make $25,000, or would you rather earn $100,000 a year while other people get $250,000? Assume for the moment that prices of goods and services will stay the same.

Surprisingly — stunningly, in fact — research shows that the majority of people select the first option; they would rather make twice as much as others even if that meant earning half as much as they could otherwise have. How irrational is that?

Read the rest of this interesting LA Times article:

Why people believe weird things about money.