I’ve written quite a few posts about the wealth distribution over the years. It was one of the four things that forced my attention to power-law distributions and the processes behind them. (The others were: the PL distribution in the performance and modularity data of the software systems I studied; the PL distribution of the linking and traffic statistics for web sites; and finally my interest in way that network effects and public goods which started crossing over into PL issues again and again.)
Writing about the wealth distribution is damn depressing. Not because the because the facts are stark, the trends are horrific. Not because the solutions are reasonably straight forward but remain unexercised. No, what makes it depressing is that the typical intelligent person is is totally unaware. You can expect an intelligent person to know a few facts about global warming, a few facts about peak oil, a few facts about planetary species diversity, etc. etc. But you can never every assume that a smart person knows anything about the distribution of wealth. Sample a typical smart person and they don’t know what the trends is, or the shape of the curve. And there is no hope they will have the slightest bit of informed opinion on simple seeming questions like how it effects economic growth, political stability, or the chances for their children. I find it bizarre that smart people can accept that the state should strive to manage inflation but have don’t realize that the state actors can and do manage the distribution of wealth.
So it is a pleasing to see both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times notice the issue.