“The Gini coefficient in my office is close to 1.0. How I yearn for the assembly line.” — An anonymous finance professional of arid wit.
I often see postings by friends on social media sites trumpeting the fact that the “gap between rich and poor” (whatever that might mean) is terrible in the United States and we must do something about it.
When confronted with such statements, I usually note that the Gini coefficient (which seems to be what they are referring to) is far lower in India, and yet most poor people in the United States would strongly resist trading places with someone in India at the same decile of income, while strangely most poor people in India probably would trade places with their counterpart in the United States.
The reply I generally get in return is either silence, or sometimes a pointer to some sort of document or video purporting to explain how damaging to society a big “gap between rich and poor” is. (Such materials are generally rather unconvincing, at least to me.)
I continue to hold that it is better to be eating well but to know that others are doing even better than you than it is to know that even though you are starving most other people are too. The former will keep you fed, while the latter should reasonably appeal only to those so encumbered by jealousy that they prefer universal misery to the success of others.
I suppose, however, that it is a question of personal values. To me, envy is not a rational basis for public policy, but others appear to feel it is the only one that counts.