Waving quintiles in front of Fred???? INCOMING!
My absolute favorite graph.
Let incomes vary across the population. More so, constrain those incomes to vary absolute uniformly between 0 and MAX_INCOME.
Choose MAX_INCOME to be any value you think is reasonable. Pick any number you want. $100. $4 Trillion. Makes no difference. Pick a number.
OK, now, via force(as would be necessary) arrange things so that the exact same number of people were at each and every intermediate income level. The same number of folks earned '0' as '1$' as '2$' as ... all the way to MAX_INCOME. A perfectly flat 'distribution' of income.
What would your quintile plot look like?
This is easy to figure out: the average income of the lowest quintile would be 10% of MAX_INCOME. The average income of the highest quintile would be 90% of MAX_INCOME.
The ratio of the highest to lowest quintile would be exactly 9:1. A horror of injustice, brought about by the cruel fact of ... allowing incomes to vary uniformly from 0 to MAX_INCOME.
What is the before taxes ratio in your plot? Er....about 9:1 (54:6 would be 9:1)
What about the highest to lowest decimile? Exactly 19:1 (95/5%).
Oh, the Tyranny of Magnitude! It is bringing us something called 'social injustice!'
What about the highrst percentile to the lowest percentile? Exactly 199:1 (99.5% to 0.5%) It just keeps getting worse and worse!
And, all because we 'allow' incomes to vary from - to MAX_INCOME.
So, for the mathematically inclined, what is the remedy to this Tyranny of Magnitude? How do we get off of this endless, unsolvable 'quintile ratio' argument hamster wheel that the Left forever attempts to weld mankind onto? The remedy is: do not allow incomes to vary: income = constant = AVERAGE INCOME. My sons when they were 14 yr old part timers, my youngest son the special needs kid working at the local hot dog shop cleaning up, a brain surgeon, a bus driver, the president of corporation, the janitor who cleans up... income = constant = AVERAGE INCOME. The Marxist dream of absolute equality and the dearth of all income gradients. No more hills! Better yet, no more hills to climb! No wonder 'pure endowment economies' are the darlings of Marxist economic modelers.
But until we get there, the hamster wheel remains, so we are told, it is not really the ratio of the upper to lower quintile (huh? else what is the point of quintile graphs?) but the -shape- of the population income distribution curve that is important. So, 'bell curve' vs. flat, or whatever; we all have extra sensory organs that somehow sense the 'shape' of these curves at Census when we go about our daily lives. Imagine if Census never prepared the charts-- then how would we sense this distribution?
And still, with all of these 'quintile' statistics and arguments, my 1040 still says INDIVIDUAL at the top in big letters. And, so does yours. Shouldn't we all be filing QUINTILE reports, if there is something to these QUINTILE based arguments?
When I've been presented with QUINTILE arguments in the past(for decades) I've always asked just one question, which must be answered before I understand the point of the curve; can anyone on earth either name, or make up, or imagine a single activity that any human being does primarily or even secondarily or in any imagined fashion as a member of a quintile, acting as an economic actor, so that I can finally understand the economic or moral basis for such a plot?
Anything at all would do. I am so desperate, I would even accept a lost episode of Star Trek. It doesn't have to be any more real than the purely mathematical concept 'quintile.'
Twenty plus years of asking, when confronted with quintile plots, and not a single answer in all that time, reasonable or otherwise. Not even a 'made up' answer. No attempts at all. You would think it would be easy to make something up, because these plots show up all the time in political debate. Turn over a rock, and there is another 'quintile' plot. Apparently, undefendable with actual argument. There must be some implicit truth in 'quintile' plots that does not require reason or argument to see.
I've even tried to help.
Imagine there are five freight trains, and once a year, we all show up at the train station, sort ourselves by income, and then get on a freight train. Then, a conductor comes along, adds up all the income reported on each freight train, and sends the numbers to Census. Then, the folks at Census look at those five numbers and help to shape national policy aimed at managing the ratio of those five numbers.
As the years go by, and we get older, and our lives change, we might find ourselves getting on different freight trains. We are told that not only the sum of the reported income on each train is of vital national tribal interest, but the ratio of those numbers is of vital importance. How or why is never explained, but we shrug and get on and off the freight trains every year, and then go back to living our lives and struggling up our individual hills and so on in our respective economies.
Quintile arguments are kind of like that, except for one thing: not even the freight trains are real. We don't even do so much as -that- as members of a quintile.
We do nothing in our economies acting as 'quintiles.' We don't vote as quintiles, we don't offer our services as quintiles, we don't pay taxes as quintiles, we don't purchase as quintiles, we don't sell as quintiles, we don't worship as quintiles, we don't travel as quintiles.... We do nothing as quintiles.
What is the point? If quintile statistic distributions.ratios are of import as actors in our economies, then what organ is used to sense them as we go about our business? Close your eyes right this very minute, and try to sense the current quintile distribution of income in America. (Turn down MSNBC while trying to sense it on your own; the screaming about it coming from there is also without explanation.).
Dr. Laura D'Andrea Tyson, in a talk at UCal/Berkely in Nov 1997(video is online at C-Span, Making Economic Policy), made the following personal observation, paraphrased: those ratios are not important in the least, or else remedy could be found simply by penalizing the upper quintile; what is important to a compassionate nation is, what is the condition of the lowest quintile, and what can be done to ameliorate the conditions of the lowest quintile. It doesn't matter how rich the richest persons in America are as long as the poorest are cared for with reasonable compassion. That old school Democratic Party position has been replaced by an extreme radical assertion that there is significance in the ratio, no matter what the condition of the two color TV lowest quintile is, based simply on tribal unrest caused purely by ratcake envy; hand over the goods or else we riot.
To which I say, riot away, if tribal envy is the only justification..