Nonsense from HumanProgress.org

Back in November of last year HumanProgress.org, a “project of the Cato Institute,” published an article titled “Putting Income Inequality in Perspective.” It claims that if you “make more than $32,400 per year, you are in the top 1 percent of the richest people in the world!”

This claim is nonsense. I knew it was nonsense right away because I knew that the average American personal income is ~30,000$ and that America has ~4% of the world’s population. The source for that claim was a website called globalrichlist.com. After you give it your supposed income, it tells you your percentile and “rank” and then asks for a charitable contribution. From the rank and percentile the total population of “ranked” individuals can be calculated, it’s about 6 billion, meaning the website is comparing your income to that of children and other non-working individuals. Or it’s making the number up.

You hear these kinds of kinds of claims from both sides of the income inequality debate. They’ll provide graphs of “wealth inequality” which group all adults into a homogeneous mass, thus the “poor” people on the Left of the graph with no wealth include many students and young people whose college debt currently exceeds their net worth but who are on track to be quite well off. Income is a better measure, but it too gives an inaccurate picture if it is not corrected for age.

References

Chelsea German and Marian Tupy, Putting Income Inequality in Perspective, HumanProgress.org, November 10 2015 http://humanprogress.org/blog/putting-income-inequality-perspective

Global Richlist,” accessed February 20 2016 http://www.globalrichlist.com/

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