I fear that to a large degree he is right, but this just moves the problem back one stage, Why are the media talking about it? A some point I assume its because they think something bad is caused by inequality so I ask what is the something and what is the evidence that inequality caused that something?
- Inequality is on the agenda because the media are writing about it
- The media are writing about it because envy is as old as the hills and journalists earn rubbish wages so anyone on a higher income is a fair target for them
- Most journalists’ eyes glaze over when they see numbers so clear discussion is not possible
- So despite a lot of evidence to suggest that maybe income and wealth inequality in New Zealand isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, that conclusion doesn’t get page views so emotive language rules how the discussion is framed
Also I would like to think well of my fellow economists so I hope they have a better reason for worrying about inequality than envy and that their eyes don't glaze over at the sight of numbers and thus they can undertake a clear and rational discussion of the topic. Starting with why they are concerned with the topic at all.
Update: Matt Nolan writes Are we all confusing status competition and ‘inequality’: Short answer, yes