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And that is not "perceptibly". Sir, you must be jesting.

Not at all. Given the width of the confidence intervals frequently employed in economics, forty percent is indeed hardly perceptible.

Further, as Jerome et al have abundantly proven, for all industrial countries and for the past few decades, economic growth has taken place solely in the top half of the income distribution. Thus, any policy that makes changes in the lower half of the income distribution - the half that you claim to care about, is a zero-sum game.

INCOME is never a zero-sum game, though.

Since you yourself are in the game of gratuitous nitpicking, I would point out that this statement is trivially disproven. If your boss decides to reduce your pay and increase his, this is indeed a change in the income distribution that to zeroth order is a zero-sum game.

This is a point that you would be wise to give some thought, given that your entire hypothesis (if we are kind enough to call it that) is contingent upon this statement being correct.

To measure income distribution yes. To meaure poverty, no.

Saying that does not make it so. Neither does repeating it.

Your example of North Korea having low relative poverty, while correct, is a red herring

No, because the point is that with your argumentation, North Korea is a less poor nation than France, because the income distribution is more even. And that is absurd. Which is my point.

You are either completely missing the point or deliberately ignoring it. I will charitably assume that the former is the case, and attempt to clarify once again:

My claim is that fraction-of-median-income (FoMI) is a useful metric to make before-and-after comparisons within the same first-world country. North Korea is not a valid comparison, unless you want to claim that NK is a first-world country, which would undermine the rest of your argument.

Furthermore, even though I defended - and will continue to defend - median income as a valuable proxy for short-term calculations, you completely sidestepped the fact that I proposed an semi-absolute (absolute in space, but relative in time)


That country A gets richer does not affect the poverty threshold or the poverty level in country B. Hence absolute in space. Technological improvements, however, will increase the poverty threshold over time, therefore it is relative

measure of poverty: Shelter, heat, food water, education, access to information, access to standard of care-level medical care, access to medicine ('access' in this context means reliable access). I would ask you to evaluate this poverty metric.

In fact, that's pretty much what HDI does. Which you didn't like.

No, that is not what HDI does. HDI is based on population averages, which means that an increase in the living conditions of the richest half of the population can and does mask worsening living conditions in the poorer half of the population, especially in such countries as the United States.

What I proposed was to determine the income required to maintain reliable access to shelter, education, food, water, access to information and education and access to health care and medication, and using this threshold to quantify the poverty level in a society.

I also believe that you overlook an important fact in your discussion of the arbitraryness of boundries used in the calculation of relative poverty: The natural boundary to use is the area of jurisdiction in which the policy is being contemplated, since the value of FoMI seems to me to be in short-term-evaluation of policies.

You see, I don't agree with that, because in my opinon, poor people continue to be poor even if policies change in neighbouring countries.

Perhaps you should re-read the comment you are responding to, because your reply makes no sense whatsoever. FoMI does not depend on changes in neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, I will happily acknowledge both that FoMI is meaningless outside the evaluation of reasonably industrialized economies (a criterion that neither North Korea nor Beverley Hills fulfills) and that it is not directly comparable to most other metrics of poverty.


This is not a problem, however

No, it's not a problem, but that fact that it doesn't relate to other metrics of poverty [...]

There is no reason that it should. The other measures of poverty that have been reviewed are most meaningfully used to measure poverty in third-world economies. FoMI is applicable only to first-world countries. There is no reason to expect a proxy valid for one measurement regime to correlate with the proxies valid for other, non-overlapping measurement regimes.

It's time to stop this stupid charade.

Indeed. I look forward to take up the discussion again, when you have realised that poverty in first-world countries is not the same as poverty in third-world countries.

No matter how much you twist and turn and start using fancy words that make you feel like you understand things,

I do not believe that this remark requires a reply. I do, however, think that it is worthwhile to highlight it. The reader is invited to compare and contrast this statement to your previous remarks regarding civility and high-minded debate.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 03:51:31 PM EST
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