Article: Lottery Effects in U.S. Wealth Skew – Bloomberg

It certainly seems true that most Americans vote against their own best interests to perpetuate the American Dream. 

Paul Kedrosky sums it up nicely. 

Lottery Effects in U.S. Wealth Skew – Bloomberg

At the margin, identity trumps structure, with people living less unhappily with income disparity because it reinforces their sense of societal self. Income skew supports American exceptionalism, the idea that the U.S. is different, because look at what happens to successful people here, unlike elsewhere. “That could be me,” is the story people tell themselves, a story that causes them to vote for fewer structural supports, the sort of thing that could get in the way of their achieving the American Dream, or so the story goes.

In short, the skew in U.S. income is a feature, not a bug. It is an essential myth in which people in this country believe, one that reinforces exceptionalism, identity and entrepreneurial opportunity. It creates the perception of an economic lottery, one that you too could win, if only you worked hard enough and long enough. Further, and more than a little worryingly, it has positive feedback, in that the more skewed incomes become the more the lottery effect is reinforced. Bad income news is good news, and worse income news is even better news.

(via Instapaper)


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