August 21, 2019

Archives for September 20, 2017

Economic Inequality Stats

My research on economic inequality consistently turns up three key points: (1) since the 80’s, there has been an ever-widening gap in incomes and capital ownership between the rich and poor, (2) the gap has been growing at an accelerating rate, especially since the year 2000, and (3) this phenomenon is worldwide.

So what?

As I’ve mentioned before, many U.S. economists and policy-makers greet those findings either with indifference or as a clarion call to defend endangered capitalism, while their international counterparts find them alarming. We’re talking about them here because it turns out that economic inequality has a lot to do with happiness and meaning at work. (Stay with me — we’ll get there, we’re just taking the scenic route.)

We all know that it’s easy to mold statistics to fit opinions — here’s a neurologist’s take on Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts. Any stats we look at here will have been pre-sorted, pre-analyzed, and pre-interpreted. My goal today was to provide a sampling of statistics from a variety of global sources — starting with a quote about how the new global super-rich are a bunch of economic data curve busters, which makes finding honest data even harder.

The skew toward the very top is so pronounced that you can’t understand overall economic growth figures without taking it into account. As in a school whose improved test scores are due largely to the stellar performance of a few students, the surging fortunes at the very top can mask stagnation lower down the income distribution.

Consider America’s economic recovery in 2009-2010. Overall incomes in that period grew by 2.3 percent — tepid growth, to be sure, but a lot stronger than you might have guessed from the general gloom of the period. Look more closely at the data, though . . . and it turns out that average Americans were right to doubt the economic comeback. That’s because for 99 percent of Americans, incomes increased by 0.2 percent. Meanwhile, the incomes of the top I percent jumped by 11.6 percent.

Plutocrats (2012), by Canadian journalist and politician Chrystia Freeland.

Across the developed world, vast fortunes are again ascendant. In the United States, the top 1 percent take home a larger share of total income than at any time except the late 1920’s. The total wealth of the world’s billionaires has quadrupled in the past two decades (even when the definition of “billionaire” is adjusted for inflation).

In the 1950’s, a typical CEO of a large company took home as much money as twenty average employees; today he makes as much as two hundred workers.

Economism (2017), by UConn law professor James Kwak.

In 2014, the inflation-adjusted income of the typical American household was just 7 per cent higher than it was in 1979. By contrast, the income of a household in the 95th percentile of the income distribution grew 45 per cent over that period.

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century (2016), by Ryan Avent,  a thoroughly Anglicized American who works as a senior editor and economic columnist for The Economist.

[C]ompare Detroit in 1990 . . . with Silicon Valley in 2014. In 1990, the three biggest companies in Detroit had a combined market capitalization of $36 billion, revenues of $250 billion, and 1.2 million employees. In 2014, the three biggest companies in Silicon Valley had a considerably higher market capitalization ($1.09 trillion), generated roughly the same revenues ($247 billion), but with about 10 times fewer employees (137,000).

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2016), by German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Prior to the 2017 WEF annual meeting of world leaders last winter, U.K.-based Oxfam International issued a report that offers a fascinating slant on Schwab’s comments. According to the report:

Eight men now control as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people . . . The men — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Amancio Ortega, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg — are collectively worth $426 billion.

As reported by CNN.

By contrast, half the planet’s population, some 3.6 billion people, have a combined wealth of $409 billion.

As reported by The Mirror Online (the U.K.’s “intelligent tabloid”).

Not only are the Elite Eight collectively worth more than the lower half of the world’s entire population, each individual member of the group is worth more than the combined market capitalization of Detroit’s three largest companies 27 years ago. The Mirror also noted this about the study:

The report found that between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest 10% increased by just $65, while the incomes of the richest 1% grew by $11,800 – 182 times as much.

A couple years ago, Credit Suisse’s “Global Wealth Report 2015” reported that half of the world’s assets were controlled by the top 1% of the global population, while the lower half owned less than 1%.

There’s plenty more where all of that came from. In fact, there’s such an abundance of global data and opinion on the topic that, if nothing else, it’s probably safe to conclude that economic inequality either really is a problem or, even if it’s not, a whole lot of people around the world sure seem to think it is.

We’ll continue our economic inquiries next time.


Kevin Rhodes left a successful long-term law practice to scratch a creative itch and lived to tell about it… barely. Since then, he has been on a mission to bring professional excellence and personal wellbeing to the people who learn, teach, and practice the law. He has also blogged extensively and written several books about his unique journey to wellness, including how he deals with primary progressive MS through an aggressive regime of exercise, diet, and mental conditioning.

Hon. Dennis Graham to Retire from Colorado Court of Appeals

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the retirement of Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Dennis Graham, effective February 12, 2018.

An esteemed figure in the legal community, Judge Graham attended Colorado State University, then went on to law school at the University of Nebraska. He was drafted in his first year, however, and spent three years in the Army before returning to finish law school. He worked as a civil litigation attorney focused on securities law and commercial transactions from 1976 to 2002. Judge Graham was appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2002. Judge Graham has served on the Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board and the Judicial Personnel Board. He is an avid cyclist.

Applications are now being accepted for the upcoming vacancy. Eligible applicants must be qualified electors of the State of Colorado and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Applications are available from the State Judicial website, or from the ex officio chair of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, Chief Justice Nancy Rice. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on October 23, 2017; anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than 4 p.m. on October 16, 2017.

For more information about Judge Graham, click here. For more information about the vacancy or application process, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/20/2017

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

Church Mutual Insurance Co. v. Salt Lake City Laumalie Ma’oni’oni Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga

Laratta v. Foster

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/19/2017

On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and six unpublished opinions.

Thundathil v. Sessions

Casalina v. Perry

Schupper v. Cafasso

Brown v. LaFerry’s LP Gas Co., Inc.

Sutton v. Van Leeuwen

United States v. Miles

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.