GINI Coefficient – is it really a measure of Press Power?

The Gini* coefficient provides an index to measure inequality. A measure of 0 shows everybody is equal, and 1 where the country’s income is earned by a single person. Allianz calculated (in 2015) each country’s wealth Gini coefficient and found the U.S. had the most wealth inequality, with a score of 0.80. As a comparison Rome’s top 1% controlled 16% of the wealth (compared to America’s 40%, today) with a Gini coefficient of 0.44.

How can a modern, educated, democratic society allow such a massive discrepancy in the distribution of wealth? The distribution of news (TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines etc.) is controlled by the wealthy. They have convinced a large part of the American society that it’s good to have the recent tax cuts even though it will in the long run add over a trillion dollars to their debt. The trickle-down theory spouted by Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980s has not worked in America (or the UK for that matter). This is exemplified by many cities where their industry dried up and subsequently they have not been able to attract new businesses. The rich took their money and moved on. But the wealthy control access and feed of news to the general public. They can and have pushed opinions which favour them (the tax cuts in America for example) – dare I mention Fox News here?

In the United Kingdom, the right-wing media is learning the lesson from America. The lessons are simple: only put your view forward, back it with examples, do not objectify the argument with others’ views but only include those Liberal or Left-wing views where they are extreme and where they help make your argument for you. Publicise this over the radio, newspapers, magazines and topical programmes on TV. This makes the right-wing views that are discussed, pushing others on the back foot because they end up arguing against the right-wing agenda and don’t get the chance to put their own policies forward.

As Liberals, we believe in the freedom of speech. The question now, for us, is the ability to be heard so we can counter the right-wing narrative, otherwise liberties will be taken against our rights. We need to ensure a balanced discussion to be heard on, privatising the NHS, less spending on areas like schools to build up our military; reduced freedoms for better security and so on. Incidentally, this is why I was pleased to hear Vince’s comments on Murdoch’s failed attempt to take full control of Sky.

For me it emphasises the need for savvy use of social media. If used properly, social media has a large coverage (locally, subject matter wise) and it is interactive. Issues, ideas and information can be disseminated quickly and widely. The party and its members needs to continue to develop their capability to utilise it fully.

As a footnote: the Gini coefficient reached a new peak of 0.358 in 2009–10 in UK. London is most unequal, as measured by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, while Sunderland is the most equal city.

* Corrado Gini was an Italian statistician – and former fascist – who died in 1965

* Tahir Maher is a former Chair of South Central Liberal Democrats and lives in Wokingham.

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  • This article could just have easily been written for the Morning Star with only a handful of words removed (mostly the word “Liberal”) . Which is a pity because the discussion of and critique of inequality doesn’t have to take a Corbynite line and style.

    As a footnote: the Gini coefficient reached a new peak of 0.358 in 2009–10 in UK. London is most unequal, as measured by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, while Sunderland is the most equal city.

    And this sums it up well. London provides huge opportunities. Sunderland doesn’t. But Sunderland is “most equal”, so somehow must be better if one follows the Maoist logic. Simon Hughes, then a Liberal MP, got put in his place by Mrs Thatcher in the House of Commons when he expressed a similar line of Maoist thinking. Liberals are sensitive to human choice, and millions of people choose to move to London (and tens of millions across the world would like to). Few choose to move to Sunderland, in fact it is regularly near the top of cities undergoing the fastest population decline.

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Feb '18 - 10:42am

    Thank you for a most interesting article on two most important matters!
    “Equality is Better for Everyone” is a vital truth verified in their book “The Spirit Level” by Wilkinson and Pickett.
    “Inequality-What can be done?” by A B Atkinson is equally excellent on the beneficial economics of equality.
    The Main Stream Media is responsible for the big-time fake news, BBC included, by what it promotes and by what it fails to investigate eg. Iraqi “MSMs”
    We would help our fellow citizen citizens and our party if we were to promote equality efficiently and visibly.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 6th Feb '18 - 1:32pm

    Tahir would do better here if he rescued the really important issue of inequality from the reactionary Gini , in the bottle, and the constant, “right wing!” rant !

    Gini was a very peculiar man political Fascist one minute in support of Mussolini and a Nazi victory, and then of a one world movement to be run by America ! He was a eugenicist, yes, as was Beveridge, which is why I am less keen on him than are some.

    We need to also, not just say everything we dislike is right wing. Some things I and many dreadful things we ;Liberal Democrats dislike, are also on the farther left of politics. So for example, I see the extreme anti capitalism of the far left targeting of banking families like the Rothschilds, as the nasty anti semitism we sadly see too often, it is expressed in a very personal way and it’s fuelled by a supposed dislike of inequality, but becomes a personal dislike of people and a people.

    There are things we need to be minded to fight against on every extreme.

    As we also fight for greater equality, we must understand the motive for some extreme proponents of it want everything and everyone to be the same.

  • James Pugh 6th Feb ’18 – 10:35am………….This article could just have easily been written for the Morning Star with only a handful of words removed (mostly the word “Liberal”) . Which is a pity because the discussion of and critique of inequality doesn’t have to take a Corbynite line and style.
    James Pugh 6th Feb ’18 – 10:35am………..This article could just have easily been written for the Morning Star…..

    And your post written by a right wing think tank…Sunderland was a powerhouse when shipbuilding, steel and coal were kings…It is a perfect example of the North/South divide where, over the last 40 years, the only investment has been by a Japanese motor company…
    If we don’t address this divide (exemplified by poverty, hopelessness, drug abuse, etc.) then the wider inequality of the UK as a whole will widen…If we let that happen, without question, we don’t deserve to be called liberal…

  • Sue Sutherland 6th Feb '18 - 7:50pm

    James Pugh I really don’t understand the point you’re trying to make. Don’t we as Liberals believe in the freedom of speech? I think you would find this principle less strongly advocated by the Morning Star and it is also threatened when judges are accused of being traitors by the right wing press.
    I believe that a more equal society is less likely to provide fertile territory for revolution either by the right or the left and am very concerned about the movement towards extremism we see in both the Tory party and Labour. I also see it as a better society for anyone to live in and I didn’t notice Tahir saying Sunderland was a better place to live than London just on income equality. London has always been the place people, including Dick Whittington, journey to in order to become rich but few achieve that. Surely Grenfell Tower has shown up its tragic inequality.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Feb '18 - 12:08am

    As a Londoner, I agree with much of what Sue writes, a Londoner who cannot afford to be in London, and a decade and a half ago , moved to Nottingham thus !

    I think James in a round about way was also saying, like Sue and me , that we need to not just talk down those on the right, as Sue and my earlier comments say, we must be a voice against left extremism too.

    That does not in any way equate this perfectly liberal article with the Morning Star though !

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