Your Neighbor's Fancy Car Should Make You Feel Better About Income Inequality - Reason.com
"...And let's face it:
In practical terms, the difference between a $200,000 Tesla and my last car, a beat-up minivan worth $2,000 at trade-in, is not all that large.
They're both safe forms of transportation that get you from point A to point B and, given legal limits and the reality of suburban traffic, most of the time they're driven at roughly the same speeds.
In that sense, measures of income inequality overstate the differences within a developed country like the United States.
The products available to the masses are, in many cases, nearly as good as those available only to the elite.
Your garbageman's old Timex and your podiatrist's brand new Rolex serve almost precisely the same function.
It wasn't always so.
A century ago, a hungry rich person had access to significantly more food and more choices than a poor one.
Yet even bluebloods would have been able to get their hands on less variety and quality than one now finds at an average Midwestern all-you-can-eat buffet.
...So why the 21st century panic about the gap between the rich and poor?
At first glance, the numbers do look damning...
...But appearances can be deceiving.
As the Brookings economist Gary Burtless has pointed out, if you account for transfers such as government housing assistance and employer-provided health insurance, "Americans in the bottom one-fifth of the distribution saw their real net incomes climb by almost 50 percent" since the late 1970s, while "those in the middle fifth of the distribution saw their incomes grow 36 percent."
It's worth remembering that anytime someone says the gap between rich and poor is increasing, what he usually means is that rich people are getting richer faster than poor people are getting richer—not that any group is becoming worse off overall..."