Especially interesting is the chapter "Zebras and Unhappy Marriages".
Diamond discusses Galton's ideas of what disposes a species to
domestication, and (in either Diamond or Galton) it is difficult to avoid
realizing that humans score as highly for domestication as canines, bovines,
Most of the statistics quoted in the original start of this thread just go
to show that wealth distribution has a long tail to the right, which is what
we would expect, given the exponential nature of economies. Has anyone seen
if log wealth is distributed more (statistically) normally? Furthermore, a
simple random-interactions model will generate curves that eyeball out like
US Census data -- or like the Boltzmann Distribution.
Also, one should be careful about blithely comparing wealth and income,
which was done in a few places in Crossette's article. Does anyone have a
"correct" fudge factor for converting between the two? My guesstimate is
5%, from a belief that ease of arithmetic outweighs pretensions to
renter, no TV (let alone color), no VCR, no microwave, no stereo system, no
dishwasher, no A/C (well, I guess I do have a unit in the car). I suppose
if I had a TV, I'd learn that I *really need* all the rest of those things.
Of that $11B/y for ice cream, I'd guess at least $5B/y went into attempts to
condition the consumer to buy a particular ice cream.
On the other hand, I do have geek toys (come to think of it, I could FoRK
from the public library -- but think of the latency hit waiting for a box!),
and a few pets who manage to spend more than I most months, so I guess I'm
doing my bit for Global Consumerism.