If you are like me, the first place you go to do quick research is Wikipedia.  I access it almost daily for basic information such as historical biographies or geographic and demographic data. It is a trustworthy resource for this kind of material.  What I have recently learned, however, as a Wiki-editor, is that Wikipedia can be very inaccurate, misleading, and systemically biased. 

Wikipedia is an impressive enterprise. It describes itself as a free access, free content, internet encyclopedia. Anyone can access the site ... and anyone can edit almost any of the articles.  It is the sixth most popular website in the world.  The English version of Wikipedia contains more than 4.6 million articles. I admire the concept of the site and respect the fact that it has become such an important resource for so many people.

It is reasonable to assume that any site this large and this accessible might be susceptible to the unscrupulous efforts of political operatives or anyone else motivated enough to inject intentional bias into what is intended to be an objective and informative resource.  However, nothing prepared me for what I would encounter when I got inside.  Once I pulled the curtain back and entered the world of Wikipedia editing, I realized that I had walked into the internet equivalent of the Star Wars Cantina. For each impartial "retired professor" editor who contributes meaningfully to the site, I would say there were at least four or five activists, each with some sort of agenda to advance or a bone to pick about something.  

This is particularly true with political subject-matter.  Rest assured that any Wikipedia topic that can be politically spun ... is politically spun.  Furthermore, any effort by a 'rogue' editor to bring balance to an article is immediately attacked and rejected by a wave of self-selected editors who actually 'police and protect' certain sites on a daily basis.  This is acknowledged as a problem by Wikipedia as 'hive-mind consensus'.  (We will talk about this later.)   

What I am about to share with you is exactly what occurred when I attempted to edit a particular article.  You will be reading word for word transcripts, edited only to correct spelling and remove technical demarkations unrelated to the texts.  

For me, the experience was mind-blowing.  It completely altered the way I view Wikipedia as a reliable resource ... and I hope it will for you too.    


One of the first things I learned as I became familiar with Wikipedia is that there is an enormous network of unseen 'Talk' and other support pages assigned to each article.  You can easily access them, however, by clicking on the 'Talk' tab near the top of each page.  Reading these discussions, you can observe the conflicts between editors, as well as the agendas being pushed.

Here, I have included several examples of the actual discussion threads relating to the article "Income Inequality in the United States."  Reading this is like watching sausage being made.    It is a prelude to the fireworks that were about to happen once I got involved. 

Enjoy!!  (I'll see you at the beginning of Chapter Two!!) ...

Talk:Income inequality in the United States

Why identify conservatives?
This article lost me at the beginning of the second paragraph, when it cites "other, mostly conservative social scientists...". Why didn't the author see the need to identify the political leanings of the other social scientists? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:21, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

False information

The article falsely claims that inequality "is highest and has grown the fastest in the United States." It should be "one of the highest". Just by looking at the OECD statistics that were cited after the sentence:  • Before taxes and transfers:  ◦ For total population: Italy, Chile, Portugal, United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Mexico have higher Gini value.  ◦ For working-age population: Chile, Mexico, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Portugal, UK have higher Gini value.  ◦ For retirement-age population: 21 countries have higher Gini value.  • After taxes and transfers:  ◦ For total population: Chile, Mexico, Turkey have higher Gini value.  ◦ For working-age population: Chile, Mexico, Turkey have higher Gini value.  ◦ For retirement-age population: Mexico, Chile, South Korea, Turkey, Israel have higher Gini value.

Regarding the United States having the most progressive tax system(OECD) and inequality

"Over at the Yglesias blog, a commentor named Peter Whiteford very usefully explains the table as follows:" "I am the person who wrote the chapter in the OECD report that is the basis of these figures. It is part of a report on the distribution of income to households, so it doesn’t include taxes that are not directly paid by households, since these are not included in income surveys....[T]he table also calculates the distribution of taxes for the household as whole after adjusting for the number of people in the household, so it will differ from data calculated on income tax returns which are not adjusted for household size. As others have pointed out this measure includes all direct taxes on individuals so it includes income taxes and employee social security contributions, but not employer payroll taxes. It also doesn’t include sales taxes, but these are much heavier in most other OECD countries, and not as progressive as direct taxes, so if you added indirect taxes in through some sort of modelling it is almost certain that the USA would still have the most progressive overall tax system. However, as the OECD report points out, progressivity is not the same as redistribution. Progressivity measures how the distribution of the tax burden is shared, while redistribution measures how much the tax system reduces inequality. Redistribution is influenced both by the progressivity of taxes and the level of taxes collected. In fact, the US system of direct taxes actually reduces inequality more than any other country as well. But overall, the USA reduces inequality a lot less than most other countries, because the other thing that you need to take into account is what taxes get spent on. Now the US system of social security and cash benefits reduces inequality by less than any other OECD country except Korea. The US social security system is marginally less progressive then the OECD average, but the level of spending is very low – only Mexico and Korea spend less in the OECD. So while the US tax system is progressive and reduces inequality, the US welfare state is much less effective at reducing inequality. And because the US has a very unequal distribution of income from capital and a much wider wage distribution than many other OECD countries, it ends up as a relatively unequal country after taxes and benefits. If you look at Nordic countries, they all have much less progressive tax systems than the USA, but they collect a lot more in taxes (including in VAT). They then spend this much higher tax revenue on social security and services, and it is this side of the equation that is most important in reducing inequality. So the implication is not that the USA either needs to increase or reduce the progressivity of the tax system. If you want to reduce inequality, you need to increase the level of taxes collected and spend it more effectively."  Somedifferentstuff (talk) 11:52, 7 June 2012 (UTC)


I removed (Thomas) Sowell's analysis and the lengthy quotation from it, because he uses the ordinary income increase associated with aging as evidence for social mobility. This is widely regarded as deceptive. More highly regarded demographers correct for income increases due to age by measuring the inequality of separate age groups. EllenCT (talk) 20:38, 6 April 2013 (UTC) 

Liberal bias
This article is filled with opinions of liberal economists and politicians and there is lack of conservative view and economic reasearch on the subject. Why hasn't a study from Richard Burkhauser ( been mentioned which shows that it's wrong to use pretax income data instead of after tax income data. Than you get totally different results. Mankiw has a good summary : Also there is this other study - The Mismeasure of Inequality which results should at least be mentioned here. WSJ has a summary: I would prefer more balanced article. Editing is needed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:43, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Statistical Reliability and Philosophy

Much of this article is dominated by data supplied by Thomas Pikkety and Emanuel Saez. I wrote a short paragraph of Alan Reynold's critique of their statistical techniques that I am satisfied to see has survived for the most part. If one actually reads these papers, specifically Pikkety/Saez, he/she will see that the papers are loaded with footnotes about data, taxes, and what is and is not included as "income." The data is derived from federal tax returns, and to put a chart at the beginning that shows data from the 1910s and 1920s as reliable measures of inequality is ridiculous. A tiny fraction of Americans even paid income taxes during those days, and the numbers simply can't be compared with more recent data from the post 1980s period. The chart needs to be removed or there needs to be a more extensive explanation of how these studies determine the numbers they use for gini calculations and distributions somewhere in this article. Every time I try to add a detailed explanation it is removed, which in my opinion presses the limits of academic dishonesty. I am not removing all the numbers here that I find to be extremely flawed and misleading, especially with charts that magnify the mistakes, I simply want the data clarification somewhere in this article. Furthermore, there is a comment under the "most recent data" tab that says the top 1%'s average tax rate declined by 37% from 1992-2007. This is questionable and contradicted directly by the CBO's numbers.  I also wrote a long explanation of the classical liberal argument for completely removing the government's role in having any influence on relative income shares in the market. This was shortened to a mere two sentences on Friedrich Hayek. I have written the explanation many times and it is continually removed. There is plenty of information on here about why government should be concerned with inequality, so I don't see why the opposing argument of why it shouldn't be concerned should be taken down time and again. Please stop removing these explanations, the sources are cited and although someone may not agree with them they should stand in comparison to differing philosophical ideas. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
You say you've written things and seen them removed several times. I haven't followed this article carefully, so I can't comment on that, except to suggest that I could help you get some resolution for that problem -- if only by creating a separate article that included a discussion of the issues you've described and had them removed allegedly without comment.  One option could be to create a separate article to discuss all the issues you want about Piketty and Saez, etc., then include a link in this article to the other. I just learned yesterday that a plot I had produced and had in this article for some time was deleted. I'm not sure when it was deleted, and I may never learn why. I'm not happy about that. However, I now have over 1,000 edits in Wikimedia projects, and those kinds of reversions are rare in my experience. If I write something strange without citing a good source, I can expect to get it reverted. However, I've learned not to do that -- and to discuss edits that might be controversial on talk pages like this. DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:49, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

I believe they are complaining about this edit with which I agree, and would recommend Friedrich Hayek#Social and political philosophy for a clearer understanding of Hayek, whose words are often twisted by the "all taxation is theft" proponents of modern astroturfed libertarianism. Hayek was not just a successful proponent of an assured minimum income above poverty levels, but also of an airtight social safety net, either of which would result in greater de facto income equality than anyone in the English-speaking world is already living under today. EllenCT (talk) 04:06, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

The sentence "While inequality has risen among most developed countries, and especially English-speaking ones, it is highest in the United States." doesn't seem to be supported by its citations, or is so poorly worded as to not be true. Even in the citation it says that Turkey, Chile, Mexico are higher. Perhaps they meant "highest out of English speaking developed countries" but certainly the wording does not read like that at all. I will leave fixing that to more knowledgable people, as I'm not even sure what they meant but that jumped out at me. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Baevar (talk • contribs) 04:08, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps whoever wrote it considered Mexico, Chile, and Turkey as third world countries, not worthy of consideration? I'm not sure why we'd even consider "English speaking" countries as a classification. Is Canada, which is officially French and English, French or English? Then what about other countries that have multiple official languages? Do we ignore Belgium and Switzerland? What about countries in the former soviet block that have more than one official language? It's just nonsense. Mattnad (talk) 11:33, 13 February 2014 (UTC)


@Mattnad: what gives you the right to try to insinuate that opinions about a broader summary article apply to more specific detail articles? And why not reply at Talk:Oligarchy#Princeton analysis? EllenCT (talk) 17:51, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

@Mattnad: re [4] what do you mean by "oligarchy talk"? Are you referring to the summary of the studies? Are you implying that there are other studies at the same level of reliability with contrary findings? EllenCT (talk) 11:14, 27 April 2014 (UTC) 

@Mattnad: do you intend to discuss alternatives for the measurement of oligarchy, or do you intend to simply continue to revert without discussion? EllenCT (talk) 06:46, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

You know quite well that there is an active discussion going on at Talk:United States. Just because you decided to cut and paste the same material into several articles does not mean we have to have several, separate discussions.Mattnad (talk) 11:08, 1 May 2014 (UTC)


That discussion has resolved that the material is more appropriate for WP:SUMMARY style articles. This is one of many. My questions to you stand, and are appropriate here. EllenCT (talk) 11:22, 1 May 2014 (UTC)


There is a related discussion about exceptional primary research. By my read of the discussion here in Talk:United States, it looks like we should wait until there's more agreement among scholars before you go inserting a lot material related to the Princeton paper.Mattnad (talk) 18:24, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

The peer reviewed literature as represented by its reviews has been agreement with the inserted statements for decade. If you had any evidence to the contrary, you had ample time to present it. EllenCT (talk) 05:51, 5 May 2014 (UTC)


Mattnad is correct about getting the Talk:United States discussion resolved. As it covers much of the same ground, and as it has more eyes on it than this subject, I think it will be helpful to see what consensus develops before we engage in more editing here. – S. Rich (talk) 06:27, 5 May 2014 (UTC)


What led you to believe that any of the discussion at Talk:US did not support inclusion of the material in this and other WP:SUMMARY style articles? EllenCT (talk) 12:13, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

If there is some consensus on the United States article, then that consensus can help resolve the questions here. But dual+ threads (oligarchy & US & this article) are proving to be confusing and not conducive to building consensus. Saying that there is no reply to a question here (about a different article) is not justification for editing without establishing consensus here. Perhaps this thread should be restarted with a more concise and focused question. – S. Rich (talk) 04:44, 10 May 2014 (UTC) PS: all articles in WP are written in SUMMARYSTYLE. 04:45, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

U.S. highest income inequality ever

The quotation saying that the U.S. has the most income inequality in the history of the world is absurd. That's true if you measure by raw dollar difference between rich and poor, but economists measure this thing by proportional difference. See the Gini Index; the U.S. has a lot of inequality compared to most other Western countries, but much less than most developing countries. Steeletrap (talk) 20:54, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Is it true but absurd when many people are working to make it larger in both absolute and relative terms, or just true but imprecise? EllenCT (talk) 21:13, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

There is inequality. But it doesn't seem right to factor in what is really a poor person in NYC who makes $50k annually, but does not live very well at all. On that same income in the South (outside major cities) a person would live quite well indeed on 50k. The other problem I have is that people who are receiving a) Section 8 housing allowance, b) government-owned housing (which may be encompassed by a), c) food stamps, d) help with heating (in the north), e) subsidized health care/Medicaid, and other "help", does not seem to have that factored in. So a person poor in actual income, is not all that badly off after some subsidies are counted. But they aren't counted here. For some, this help is substantial. Maybe 10-20k annually. Student7 (talk) 21:03, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Economic inequality

Hi, I reverted your recent edit to Economic Inequality because I had already added the Oxfam statistic yesterday (appears earlier in same section). Apologies if I did something wrong, I'm new at this and this is my first revert. Also, is it just me or does that whole section need some cleanup work? Lots of statistics but not sure they are organized very well. GuineaPigC77 (talk) 06:31, 22 January 2014 (UTC) 


Not at all. I completely missed it. This is why I shouldn't be contributing at 1:30 in the morning... But shouldn't the 2014 Oxfam report follow the previous one?--C.J. Griffin (talk) 06:36, 22 January 2014 (UTC) 


Haha okay good. I'm not sure. I left a message on the talk page but I'm not an expert on this stuff. So I dunno the how it would be best organized. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GuineaPigC77 (talk • contribs) 06:49, 22 January 2014 (UTC) 


C.J. Griffin - Don't plan to get involved but I do watch the article Income inequality in the United States. May I suggest, if this is the opinion of Moberg or empirical research, that your edit add an in-line attribution for the viewpoint. As it is now, it either looks like the opinion of Navarro (carry over from the prior sentence) or a clear statement of fact. Morphh (talk) 19:44, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

Notice of Edit-Warring noticeboard discussion
This message is being sent to (C.J. Griffin) inform you that there is currently a discussion involving you at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring regarding a possible violation of Wikipedia's policy on edit warring. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Spumuq (talk • contribs) 13:37, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Automatic POV? (Point of View)
For editors who are assuming that income inequality is a "problem," the specifics of why it is a problem needs to be laid out a bit better. This might include a sentence or two from the linked article income inequality. It could be that simple. Quotes could (therefore) be improved by including people who give reasons for their statements and don't just assume a given outcome is obvious for obvious reasons. On a different topic, for example, "I think the speed limit on state highways should be increased/decreased because tourists are avoiding our state because the speeds they travel are too slow/there are too many fatal accidents attributed to high speeds." Just opining that speed levels should be increased or decreased seems puerile and ineffective IMO. Which is why we should probably not quote politicians! They try to be deliberately vague for credible deniability reasons. Student7 (talk) 14:29, 27 May 2014 (UTC)


The basic problems with increasing income inequality in my opinion are that it reduces aggregate demand (increasingly large segments of what used to be the middle class can't afford much more than essentials, which pushes production and total employment down) and monopolizes the labor force (meaning that there are fewer employers requiring fewer workers, but those who remain consolidate and take advantage of the lack of competition, leading to less choice, market abuses, and relatively higher prices.) There are a multitude of other adverse affects listed in The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better and similar works, but in my opinion almost all of them are secondary. I agree that these facts need to be explained, but I've encountered very strong opposition for the high quality peer reviewed sources I've inserted explaining these topics, so I invite others to find their own and give them a try. EllenCT (talk) 21:19, 30 July 2014 (UTC)


"The basic problems with increasing income inequality [is] my opinion are that it reduces aggregate demand." It may even be a common theory, but it is not fully accepted among mainstream economists. It seems to be accepted among those economists which you consider mainstream, possibly because they have that POV. — Arthur Rubin (talk)


@Arthur Rubin: do you have any sources suggesting that any mainstream economists believe that increasing income inequality does not reduce aggregate demand? Or that any mainstream economists believe that it doesn't cause monopolization of the labor force? There is already a lengthy longstanding section on "Consumption and debt" which addresses the former directly and the latter rather obliquely. EllenCT (talk) 00:29, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for considering the "problem" of explaining the topic. In the US, it seems to me that the really impoverished have access to (they may not accept it) various programs to alleviate hunger, medical care, and (to some extent) housing. I can believe the middle class experiences some pressure with lack of "aggregate" demand for their services/skills or whatever. And reducing the size (percentage) of middle class can result in political instability. Sorry I can't help with WP:RS. Student7 (talk) 18:19, 3 August 2014 (UTC)


Welcome back!!

As a candid observer, you can quickly appreciate that editors have differing perspectives and motivations. You can also detect a level of frustration among those who don't hold a majority (progressive) point-of-view. They are usually the ones making anonymous comments. It becomes increasingly clear that Wikipedia articles are not written by objective professionals intent on informing the public, but by people like you and me, who have something to say about a given topic ... and usually a reason to say it.

Once I understood this, I made the decision to enter the fray and provide a counter-balancing force to what I considered a one-sided POV (point of view) that is prevalent throughout the site.  I scanned Wikipedia, looking for articles that were particularly biased and made a few entries here and there.  Then, I stumbled upon "Income Inequality in the United States."    

This article, in my opinion, is almost entirely a political piece of work ... incredibly slanted and unfairly critical of capitalism. There were dozens of accusations, assumptions, and interpretations that were misleading, inaccurate ... and both perniciously and blatantly dishonest.  Having a solid understanding of the subject, with undergraduate and graduate collegiate degrees in economics as well as business, I took it upon myself to further research the subject matter and make cogent criticisms of the conclusions drawn in the article.  It was my hope that I could write a discrete criticism section similar to those I had seen in other Wiki articles, and place it near the end of the article as a counter-point to (what I considered) an extensive fifteen-thousand word monolithic piece of propaganda. 

By doing this as a block of text, I thought that I could more fully articulate concepts in a manner that would be intellectually cohesive and more compelling than simply dropping one-line counter-arguments throughout the entire article.


So, this major endeavor as Wikipedia editor began with several more hours of learning additional technical aspects of Wiki code, as well as a crash course in editor protocol.  

With this first big attempt, I actually created the entries on the fly, posting and then reviewing the entries.  Each time I made grammatical or content corrections, I re-entered the edit page and made them, one at a time.  This was a simple rookie mistake.  I now realize that there are better ways to do this, either by creating a separate pre-edited document and dropping it in, or using the Wiki "Preview" function to assess the entries before officially posting them.  As it was, it appeared to other editors that I was making endless edits, and worrying them to no end, I'm sure.    

Eventually (after several days of intense work) I built a pretty good criticism section, heavily footnoted and properly formatted.  I hit the "Submit" button and boom, there it was, for the world to see.  It was a satisfying moment to see it all come to fruition ... and equally good to think that I had brought some counterbalance to the article.

The next day, like a proud papa, I opened the article to review the work again.  It was gone. The entire section had been removed.  
Another Wikipedia editor named C.J. Griffin had pulled it citing ... "The entire section has to go. The excessive criticism of Piketty's book (off topic), relentless editorializing and myriad assertions not backed by the sources provided justify its removal." After several minutes of shock, I began to investigate what happened. I started by exploring who C.J. Griffin was, and the first place to start was his user page.  

When I opened his page, I was confronted with a series of twenty userboxes (small box-shaped icons that editors choose to reflect their personal philosophy).  Here is a screen shot  of what I saw ...

Okaaay ... I didn't expect to see that on a supposedly unbiased Wikipedia editor 
user page ...

Not only was this editor a staunch leftist (I would later learn that the great majority of Wiki-editors are liberals or leftists) but he also had been highly involved in the creation and ongoing editorship of the article.  I reviewed his edit activity and discovered that he daily monitors a handful of Wiki-sites, just to make sure that people like me don't mess with them.  Those sites included Joseph Stalin, Noam Chomsky, Chairman Mao, Hugo Chavez, and a slew of economic and social pages criticizing the 'ravages' of capitalism and promoting the progressivist-socialist solutions to them.

I also noticed that he was a senior editor and seemed to enjoy throwing his authority around carte blanche (based on previously posted discussions that he had with other Wiki-plebes).  I wasn't sure what my options were, so after thinking about it for a while I posted a note to his "Talk" page and this is the actual transcript of what transpired ...

C.J. Griffin ...

I am the person who added the criticism section to 'Income Inequality in the United States' (that you completely erased). May I ask how does one add a criticism section to an article without criticizing? Every comment in the section I added was heavily footnoted, from respected (Wikipedia listed) sources. As I read the article, it appears that it amounts to advocacy. There must be a balance to such 'cheerleading'. As it stands now, every 'minor' criticism within the article is immediately squashed by the author with a pro-income inequality position. This is not permitting legitimate criticism.  Please contact me on this. (Tolinjr)


Using Wikipedia's voice to state as absolute fact extremely controversial opinions, as you did in that section, is prohibited. The first paragraph exemplifies this, contained no citations or attributions, and set the tone for the rest of the section. It also smacks of original research. Take the first sentence for example: "While the explicit goal of income inequality advocates is to improve economic conditions in the United States, it is also very clear that an implicit motivation of many proponents is to consolidate power within the federal government through the implementation of a centrally-planned economy."  
Pure supposition using Wikipedia's voice! This could never be allowed to stand. The sporadic citations you tossed in often did not match the rhetoric you added. You'll notice that elsewhere in the article there are extensive citations with proper attribution. Finally, your extensive attack on Piketty's book, which made up an entire sub-section, is completely off-topic and has no place in this article.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 14:49, 7 August 2014 (UTC)


C.J. Fine. Pull the offending sentences from the post. Do you want to go through the entire article with me and we can clean the whole thing of supposition? I believe that Piketty's book was used extensively to make the original arguments in the article. There has been extensive criticism of it, by reasonable and legitimate institutions. I propose that we find a way to include the body of the "Criticism" section, on the basis that the article needs it. If you wish to edit it, have a go at it, or I could do it ... but it needs to be in there if the article is to be unbiased and accurate. Otherwise, we will assume it is just the way you like it ... and I can proceed along other channels. By the way ... in no way am I suggesting that income inequality does not exist ... I am bringing to light legitimate questions that have been raised, and using legitimate sources, relating to how the data was gathered, what data was omitted, and how it was interpreted. (Tom)

(At this point, I will admit that I was highly intimidated by the antagonistic nature of C.J. Griffin's discussion and sent a follow-up email to Wikipedia's help desk, asking for assistance.  What I got was a boiler-plate response that essentially said that I was on my own, and that I could utilize Wiki-Mediation as a last resort).  Then, out of the blue, I get this response from C.J. Griffin ...

So instead of offering a serious rebuttal to my critique of your additions, you run and tattle on me for editing articles I have an interest in, like I've been doing for the past seven years? Quite telling! Apparently you failed to notice I've edited quite a few articles pertaining to Stalinist dictatorships and have added scholarly data painting them in a rather negative light. Just a glance at my talk page demonstrates this. But whatever. You were blatantly editorializing, which is why no one else has bothered to restore your edits.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 22:58, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

In spite of Wikipedia's pledge of confidentiality, they notified C.J. Griffin that I had lodged a complaint against him.  

C.J. ... I have never been slammed to the mat before, like you just did to me, so it is quite understandable that I might get my dander up as a result. Once I pulled up your edit history, I saw a number of similar situations where you were in involved in conflicts with other contributors, and they all involved you taking a defensive leftist position regarding political subject matter. There was also a whiff of arrogance in the way you dispensed with other contributors who disagreed with you. So the picture it painted for me was that you might have been one the legendary "Wikipedia leftist political trolls" that we have all heard so much about. So, can you blame me? Regarding the article ... I reviewed it again. You and I both know that this is a politically-charged topic, and if the fact that is is not mentioned (and why) then the context of what all sides are presenting cannot be fully understood. Everything in that article is presented as fact, when virtually all of it is interpretation of data ... data that has been specifically selected in order to facilitate a political perspective. There is alternate (equally accurate) data out there and there are alternate perspectives on what that data says. Yes, there currently are 'straw man' criticisms sprinkled throughout the article that are quickly dispensed-with by the author in order to make the article appear objective. But hardly a reflection of the alternate perspectives and legitimate criticism that exists out there. I'm not going to pick a fight with you, but the five key points (made by respected academics and scholars) that I included need to be part of the conversation if the topic of income inequality is to be fully (and accurately) explored. If you want me to take another pass at it, I will. Or you can do it. Just tell me what to do. (Tolinjr)


You're going to have to find consensus in order to make such sweeping and controversial changes to a long standing article.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 04:04, 8 August 2014 (UTC)


Please explain. Are you recommending mediation? Or are you suggesting that the article cannot be changed? What does your interpretation of 'consensus' mean ... ?? All I ask is that you consider some facts: Thomas Piketty is a Socialist, he was Economic Advisor to the Socialist Party of France.(Source: Wikipedia). A central keystone to Socialism is central government planning.(Source: Wikipedia) The primary recommendation of his book "Capital In The 21st Century" is that Capitalism must be reformed in the United States through the development of central planning.(Source: Wikipedia) Do you think that there should be any mention at all about potential motivations for producing such a report? Some perspective? Some context? In the article: The analysis focuses only on pre-tax incomes, rather than after-tax incomes to make its case.(Why?) The research does not include government subsidies and other in-kind benefits to the lower quartiles in its analyses.(Why?) The top "One Percenters" are mentioned in the article as the sole gainers in wealth, dozens if not a hundred times in the article, yet the Congressional Budget Office data actually shows that it is only the "top half" of one percenters who are making gains in that group. Those between the top 99 and 99.5 percent have actually lost wealth between 1960 and 2012.(Shouldn't this important misunderstanding of fact be acknowledged?) There are equally important and equally respected people out there who have different thoughts on this issue and have published their research on the subject of income inequality. Many of whom use the exact same data presented in the article. Do they not deserve to be included, at least somewhere, in the discussion about "Income Inequality in the United States"? Or does the article need to be a monolithic work, taking a singular position, without any counter-analysis or correction of fact? There is only one explanation as to why you would not want that article amended ... and I think we both might know what it is. I am in favor of working with you to make a more objective and accurate article, free of supposition. Please advise.


"All I ask is that you consider some facts: Thomas Piketty is a Socialist, he was Economic Advisor to the Socialist Party of France.(Source: Wikipedia). A central keystone to Socialism is central government planning.(Source: Wikipedia) The primary recommendation of his book "Capital In The 21st Century" is that Capitalism must be reformed in the United States through the development of central planning.(Source: Wikipedia) Do you think that there should be any mention at all about potential motivations for producing such a report?" - You see, here we go again. All of this constitutes synthesis and original research, not to mention being way off topic, and would be immediately removed from the article by myself or other contributors for those reasons. Piketty is just one economist cited in the article, and his new book is not even mentioned except for being used as a source twice, so adding an entire section or more attacking him and his book and then bringing in materials on his supposed "socialism" (I would argue he's more of a social democrat, not that it is relevant. He certainly is no advocate of Soviet-style central planning and you would have known this had you ever read his book) would be completely unwarranted for an article on income inequality in the US. Again, you seek to add some rather wide-ranging and very controversial materials that would change the scope of a long standing article, which is why this would have to be discussed on the talk page.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 14:44, 8 August 2014 (UTC)


You see, here we go again ... the arrogant Wikipedia editor slapping down a mere Wikipedia contributor. You seem to enjoy it. But there remain legitimate criticisms and input that needs to be added and I have asked you several times if you would assist me in presenting it in a fair and acceptable fashion. Perhaps, as long as the information that needs to be presented does not fit with your world view, you simply are not interested in being of assistance? This in itself is selection bias, or worse. Bias by omission (and actively blocking others from presenting alternate information). Actually, I have extensively studied Emmanuel Saez' (Berkeley) analyses and some of the Piketty's work (admittedly not the entire book, cover to cover, but most of it). I am serious student (and teacher) of economics, as I have both undergraduate and masters degrees in the subject. I am not a political hack, but there are legitimate concerns (both mine and significant others) regarding how the data in the article is being interpreted, why key data was selected or omitted, and the political motives that are hoped to be achieved as a result of it. We both know this ... although that is probably supposition on my part. If, in fact, you have read the book cover to cover, then you know how Saez' work serves as a foundation for Piketty's analysis. It is Saez' research that proves that those between the 99-99.5 percentile have actually lost wealth between 1960 and 2012 ... although it is wrongly stipulated in the article that "all" of the top 1 per centers have been getting richer (this in fact is simply not true). Its only the top .5 percenters who are gaining. So, I assume I'm on my own on this one. I will resubmit new modifications to the article, footnoting every assertion, and let you take your best shot at it. Let me give you some friendly parting advice ... I suggest you take an hour or so and review your 'talk' page and how you have treated contributors. You could still do your job without being a jerk about it. Nothing is worse than a jerk with power. 


Well, okay then. Again, I'm not stopping anyone from making sensible contributions to any page. The talk pages exist for a reason. It might have been more constructive to discuss your proposed additions there than posting walls of text to my personal talk page.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 23:34, 8 August 2014 (UTC)


C.J. I apologize for being so difficult. I didn't even know there was a 'talk' page designated to discuss the topic. I have tried to make my case with you. Either you accept what I have shared with you or you don't. Perhaps the messenger (me) was not sufficiently skilled to make it acceptable according to your standards, but I think you know that several of the points are legitimate and worthy of inclusion in the article. You and I view the world 180 degrees apart, I can see that now on your profile page. We could not be more opposite. Still, I would have enjoyed chatting with you under different circumstances. However, I am exhausted from fighting this fight with you online, not on the basis of the facts, but on the nuances of posting. I'm leaving it to you to edit or whatever. Again, I apologize for not being more cooperative. Good luck. (Tolinjr)


I learned several key things from this experience.  First, making any change to a topic as highly-charged as this would take an insurmountable effort (something I was now bound and determined to do).

As I further assessed the article and the editors involved with it, I was struck by the number of European editors contributing to it.  I subconsciously asked myself, "Why would so many European editors have such an interest and be so active in an article entitled Income Inequality in the United States?"

Another thing that piqued my interest was this notion of 'consensus.'  One of the basic constructs of Wikipedia is the requirement that articles be written by consensus. Nothing is added to an article unless the majority of editors agree to add it. I was beginning to see that this might prove to be an issue if my goal was to insert any sort of contrasting perspective to the piece.

However, in all honesty, I could also see that while my sources and arguments were excellent, some of my text contained suppositions and POV (point of view), a cardinal sin among Wikipedians.

So, after a month of consideration, I went back to the iMac and began again, focusing on writing a more disciplined and focused entry that would surely be seen by most editors as worthy of being included in the article.  This time, it took more than a week to really distill the arguments into a tight piece of work. I again held my breath and pushed the 'Submit' button.

The following day, I saw that the additions had again been stripped from the article (by another editor).  This time, I was notified on my user page that it was posted to the article 'Talk' section where, supposedly, editors would discuss its merits and determine if or how it should be incorporated into the page.  The explanation given was that it was "disproportionate to the overall significance to the article topic" and that it was "overwhelming the rest of the article"

I compared the original work at nearly 15,000 words to my entry of 1,800 words.  By sheer word count, the section did not seem overwhelming or disproportionate, compared to the size of the article itself. 

This is the "Criticism Section" I authored, as seen in the 'Talk' section of the article (after it was moved) ...

Moved from article space to discuss how to incorporate criticism throughout the article as needed ...

Criticism of Income Inequality Analyses, Assumptions, and Recommendations

1. Some Income Inequality Assumptions are Incorrect
There are several key aspects of income inequality analyses, particularly those of economists Thomas Piketty and Paul Krugman, that have been proven to be inconsistent and/or flawed.[1] For example, one of their assertions is that wealthy Americans earn a higher rate of return on investment than lower income peers, and will ultimately create a 'patrimonial-capitalist' society controlled by only a few ultra-wealthy families, much like nineteenth-century Europe. Krugman has described it as a new "Gilded Age". "Piketty points to the Forbes 400 ranking of the wealthiest Americans from 1987 to 2013. He shows that the top 0.000001% of Americans—roughly the top 45 people on the Forbes list—earn about 6.8% on their money, while the average return on wealth is just 2.1%. Critics point out that income inequality proponents wrongly assume that this is a static list of wealthy Americans who remain rich. In reality, there has been a great deal of turnover on the Forbes 400; only 35 people from the original 1982 list remain today. Many have fallen off as a result of heavy spending, large-scale philanthropy, and bad investing. The current Forbes 400 is now primarily made up of newly wealthy business owners, not heirs and heiresses. The University of Chicago’s Steve Kaplan and Stanford University’s Joshua Rauh note that 69% of those on the list are first generation wealth creators. That figure has risen dramatically since 1982 when it stood at 40%. So it’s likely that rising income inequality is not the product of inheritance, as Piketty, Krugman, and others assume, but rather the result of entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos being paid for their ingenuity."[2] Thus, capitalism does not contribute to an inherited-wealth stagnation and consolidation, but instead promotes the opposite ... a vigorous, ongoing turnover and creation of new wealth.[3][4]

2. Causes of Income Inequality: Capitalist (Economic) versus Socialist (Political) 
One of the primary recommendations made by income inequality proponents is central planned/ state interventionism. Abundant research, as well as empirical evidence, has demonstrated that income inequality also exists in statist (socialist) countries. However, the nature of income inequality in statist countries is driven by political, rather than economic factors ... as articulated in a recent analysis entitled "The Hidden Inequality In Socialism" (David Henderson-Naval Postgraduate School, Hoover Institution, Stanford University and Tamas Rozsas-Ministry of Economy and Transport, Department of Information Technologies and Statistics, Budapest, Hungary); "The causes of income inequality are more important than the degree of income inequality itself. In a socialist economy, income inequality hinges for the most part on differences in political power, political connections, and loyalty to the government. To better one’s economic condition in a socialist economy, therefore, one must become politically connected or, at least, must display loyalty to the government. Also, because people have little incentive to produce valuable goods in a socialist economy, most people claw for improved position in a zero-sum game in which one person’s gain is another’s loss. In a market economy, by contrast, income inequality reflects differences in productive ability for the most part. The way to better oneself economically in a market economy, therefore, is to become more productive—that is, to contribute more to the wealth of one’s fellow human beings in return for pecuniary rewards. Markets are positive-sum games. Bill Gates and Michael Dell are extraordinarily wealthy not because of their political connections but because they have produced goods that consumers value. Inequalities in a market economy, therefore, serve a useful function, giving people incentives to work harder, study more, and take sensible risks, thereby contributing to other people’s well-being. Further research should focus on the causes of inequality instead of its degree, with special attention on corruption and income redistribution through government transfers."[5][6]

3. "Zero-Sum Game": The Rich Are Getting Richer And Making the Poor Poorer
In 2012, National Affairs journal published the following, "The implicit assumption behind the case for the injustice of income inequality is that the wealthy are the reason why the poor are poor, or at least why they cannot escape their poverty. If this claim were true, it would be much easier to connect income inequality with injustice, and so to justify a redistributionist agenda. Yet this assumption rests on another economic premise that itself is highly dubious: the idea that income is a zero-sum game. Moral critics of inequality often portray total national income as if it were a pie: There is only a fixed amount to go around, they suggest, so if someone's slice gets bigger, another person's must get smaller. Much of the moral debate about income inequality seems to rest on this zero-sum theory. As Kevin Drum of Mother Jones magazine put it last year, "This income shift is real. We can debate its effects all day long, but it's real. The super rich have a much bigger piece of the pie than they used to, and that means a smaller piece of the pie for all the rest of us."[7] In a functioning market economy, however, the total amount of income is decidedly not static; economic exchange is not a zero-sum game." This is corroborated by a Pew Charitable Trust report released in 2009 entitled "Ups and Downs: Does the American Economy Still Promote Upward Mobility?" and by a 2007 report by the Congressional Budget Office, finding that both middle and lower income Americans experienced absolute and inflation-adjusted economic gains between 1979 and 2005, thus dispelling the notion that increased earnings of high-income workers generally cause some people to be poor or prevent them from improving their economic status.[8][9][10]

4. Information Used in Income Inequality Analyses, Particularly Raw Census Data, Cannot Capture Key Dynamics Such As Mobility of Incomes 
The Census Bureau ranks all households by household income and then divides this distribution of households into quintiles. The highest-ranked household in each quintile provides the upper income limit for each quintile. Comparing changes in these upper income limits over time for different quintiles reveals that the income of wealthier households has been growing faster than the income of poorer households, thus giving the impression of an increasing “income gap” or “shrinking middle class.” One big problem with inferring income inequality from the census income statistics is that the census statistics provide only a snapshot of income distribution in the U.S., at a single point in time. The statistics do not reflect the reality that income for many households changes over time—i.e., incomes are mobile. For most people, income increases over time as they move from their first, low-paying job in high school to a better-paying job later in their lives. Also, some people lose income over time because of business-cycle contractions, demotions, career changes, retirement, etc. The implication of changing individual incomes is that individual households do not remain in the same income quintiles over time. Thus, comparing different income quintiles over time is like comparing apples to oranges, because it means comparing incomes of different people at different stages in their earnings profile. [11] In addition, there have been a number of other challenges to the integrity and interpretation of the data presented in many income inequality analyses by economists and scholars.[12][13][14][15][16]

5. Most Income Inequality Analyses Do Not Take Into Account After-Tax Incomes Or In-Kind Benefits 
The Brookings Institution's Gary Burtless published findings (using Congressional Budget Office data) in a 2014 report that contradicts accepted theories of income inequality, "Some crucial findings of this new study may come as a surprise, especially to people who believe incomes of the poor and middle class have stagnated since the turn of the century while incomes at the top have soared. The CBO’s latest numbers show the opposite is true. Since 2000 pre-tax and after-tax incomes have improved among Americans in the bottom 90% of the income distribution. Among Americans in the top 1% of the distribution, real incomes sank. (Chart 1)" 

These results reflected recent economic conditions, when the economy suffers the wealthiest absorb the greatest loss of income. However, when the economy is strong, they stand to gain the most. Between 2000 and 2010, the wealthiest took losses while other quartiles did not.

One reason that many observers fail to recognize these lower- and middle-income gains is that the nation’s most widely cited income statistics do not capture key information. "A commonly used indicator of middle class income is the Census Bureau’s estimate of median household money income. The main problem with this income measure is that it only reflects households’ before-tax cash incomes. It fails to account for changing tax burdens and the impact of income sources that do not take the form of cash. This means, for example, that tax cuts in 2001-2003 and 2008-2012 are missed in the Census statistics. Even worse, the Census Bureau measure ignores income received as in-kind benefits and health insurance coverage from employers and the government. By ignoring such benefits as well as sizeable tax cuts in the recession, the Census Bureau’s money income measure seriously overstated the income losses that middle-income families suffered in the recession. New Congressional Budget Office income statistics are beginning to show the growing importance of these items. In 1980, in-kind benefits and employer and government spending on health insurance accounted for just 6% of the after-tax incomes of households in the middle one-fifth of the distribution. By 2010 these in-kind income sources represented 17% of middle class households’ after-tax income. (Chart 4)"

"The income items missed by the Census Bureau are increasing faster than the income items included in its money income measure. What many observers miss, however, is the success of the nation’s tax and transfer systems in protecting low- and middle-income Americans against the full effects of a depressed economy. As a result of these programs, the spendable incomes of poor and middle class families have been better insulated against recession-driven losses than the incomes of Americans in the top 1%. As the CBO statistics demonstrate, incomes in the middle and at the bottom of the distribution have fared better since 2000 than incomes at the very top."[17] Without considering these significant factors, any analysis or discussion of a widening income gap would be misleading and very likely overstated.

6. The Income Inequality Gap Is Not Between the Top 1 Percent and Bottom 99 Percent, It is Between the Top .5 Percent and the Bottom 99.5 Percent 
Most income inequality proponents make a division between the top 1 percent of Americans and the remaining 99 percent in their income inequality analyses. However, this assertion masks a very important and contrary fact … a 2014 report by University of California, Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez has shown that the relative net wealth of the people between the top 1.0 percentile and .5 percentile has actually dropped between 1960 and 2012 ... and their income share is nearly flat.[18][19][20] 

1. Thomas Piketty Is Wrong: America Will Never Look Like a Jane Austen Novel, New Republic, 2014.
2. Thomas Piketty's Wealth Illusion, Barrons, August 5, 2014.
3. Yet Another Reason Why Thomas Piketty' Is Wrong, Forbes, June 5, 2014 
4. Inequality A Piketty problem?, Economist, May 24, 2014
5. The Hidden Inequality In Socialism, The Independent Reviewl, Winter 2005
6. Federal Government Is A Huge Driver Of Income Inequality, Independent Journal Review, 2012.
7. Justice, Inequality, and the Poor, National Affairs, 2012
8. Ups and Downs: Does the American Economy Still Promote Upward Mobility?, The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2009.
9. Trends In The Distribution Of Household Income 1979 - 2007, Congressional Budget Office, 2007
10. The Myth of Income Inequality, Scientific American, July 2014.
11. Income Inequality: It's Not So Bad, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Spring 2010
12. Levels and Trends in United States Income and Its Distribution A Crosswalk from Market Income Towards a Comprehensive Haig-Simons Income Approach, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013.
13. Is Inequality Growing Out of Control?, Forbes, April 24, 2014
14. Piketty's Numbers Don't Add Up, Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2014.
15. What Piketty Gets Wrong About Capitalism, Reason, May 23, 2014.
16. Thomas Piketty's Wrong Conclusions on Rising U.S. Income Inequality, U.S. News & World Report, June 5, 2014.
17. Income Growth and Income Inequality: The Facts May Surprise You, Brookings Institution, January 2014.
18. Why Don't The 1 Percent Feel Rich?, The Atlantic, April 2, 2014.
19. The Distribution of US Wealth, Capital Income and Returns since 1913, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, March 2014
20. How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All Wrong, The Atlantic, March 30, 2014.

(Wikipedia removing editor - Concerns)

Images: The two images are said to be public domain as a work of the US Government...however there is no link or other information to verify this. This most be rectified or the images will be deleted.--Mark Miller (talk) 22:29, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Sources: Source #1 appears to be a blog-Thomas Piketty Is Wrong: America Will Never Look Like a Jane Austen Novel, New Republic.--Mark Miller (talk) 22:32, 13 September 2014 (UTC) Source #3 is an opinion piece-Yet Another Reason Why Thomas Piketty' Is Wrong, Forbes and cannot be used to source facts.--Mark Miller (talk) 22:36, 13 September 2014 (UTC) Source# 5- The Hidden Inequality In Socialism, The Independent Review seems to be selling subscriptions and therefore is not the best RS. Is there a copy of this in a different form?--Mark Miller (talk) 22:40, 13 September 2014 (UTC) Source #6- Federal Government Is A Huge Driver Of Income Inequality, Independent Journal Review is simply not there.--Mark Miller (talk) 22:45, 13 September 2014 (UTC) Source # 10 - The Myth of Income Inequality, Scientific American is a blog.--Mark Miller (talk) 22:50, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

I was beginning to get a glimpse of how futile this effort was going to be.  What would be the likelihood that a groundswell of liberal editors would respect the voracity of what I was saying and permit this section to be inserted in an article that they were so jealously protecting?  

But then, something happened ... I received a quiet message on my personal user page.  All it said was ...

Nice work. Mattnad (talk) 18:45, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

That small note gave me a much needed boost of confidence at a very important time.   It made me believe that I was on the right track and had made an impact.  With newfound motivation, I went about making my opening argument on behalf of the work ...  

Discussion of Criticism of Income Inequality Section ... (Tolinjr response)
First. Footnote issues can be addressed ...  

Source #1: No need for source #1. The statement is addressed within the paragraph, and footnoted multiple times.

Source #3: Opinion piece referenced research by Stanford and University of Chicago professors that can now be directly attributed ... "It’s the Market: The Broad-Based Rise in the Return to Top Talent". Steven N. Kaplan and Joshua Rauh. University of Chicago/Stanford University. 2013. Here is a direct link to their research work ...

Source #5: Alternative footnotes for "The Hidden Inequality In Socialism" are available ... Here are two direct sources for the footnote material ...

Source #6: Footnote material was removed by the source. However, the original source of the information was located. "The Unequal State of America: Redistributing Up". Reuters, Deborah Nelson and Himanshu Ojha, Washington D.C., December 18, 2012. And direct link to the article ...

Source #10: Blog footnoted a research work that can be directly attributed ... National Tax Journal, December 2013, 66 (4), 893–912, "New Perspectives On Income Mobility And Inequality" Gerald Auten, Geoffrey Gee, and Nicholas Turner. Office of Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury Department, Washington, DC, USA. And a link ...

Second. How to incorporate criticisms into the article ... The article on Income Inequality in the United States, itself, is very lengthly (14,616 words), is repetitive, and contains heavy conjecture and opinion. In fact, one section has been already been demarcated by Wikipedia as "potentially unbalanced". The entire work is obviously written and supported from a single perspective. Heavily-skewed sourcing of references. Every graphic and every chart supporting the case. In reviewing the existing text, there are a few weak criticisms (straw-man arguments) raised that are easily batted-down by the authors (Example: opening paragraphs ... "Although some have spoken out in favor of inequality, including NYU Law School Professor and Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago, Richard Epstein, (who said "if, in fact, it turns out that inequality creates an incentive for people to produce and to create wealth, it’s a wonderful force for innovation") (The notion that high levels of inequality drive innovation is disputed.)" Beyond spurious one-line examples such as this, there is no serious alternative discussion or viewpoint presented whatsoever within the article. Counterpoints and opinions are 'sandwiched'.

So the question is, how is balance brought to this article? The best way to do this is to present criticisms as a distinct and separate set of arguments. The reason for this is two-fold ... first, this enables both sides to present their perspectives in their entirety, without interference or distraction. Second, considering that the article runs on at such length, it would be easy to bury even legitimate critical arguments into massive textual paragraphs and smother them. The criticism section as it exists here is 1800 words long. Roughly twelve percent of the length of the original article. This is very appropriate, especially when they incorporate five disputes involving statistical facts, and one discussion of the causation of income inequality. For the record, the argument is not whether income inequality exists or not. It does. The argument is ... to what degree it exists, using what kind of data to support, and what arguments are made with it. 

Case in point ... the article discusses the top 1 percent as a monolithic group of wealthy people, all of whom have gained at the expense of the 99 percent. This is factually untrue on two levels. Only the top .5 percent have gained (particularly the top .1 percent). Those between the top 1 percentile and top .5 percentile are treading water ... just like the rest of the 99 per centers. This is proven in research by Emmanuel Saez, who is used extensively within the original article. But the Wiki article ignores this important fact entirely ... in fact, it misrepresents the truth every time it mentions "top 1 percent". It insidiously groups people who have not gained with those who have gained. The very use of the term "top 1 percent" reveals political bias, because it has become the whipping boy of the cause, in addition to being factually deceiving to the public. 

The other untruth ... the Congressional Budget Office, Pew, and Brookings Institutions have all conclusively confirmed that "the rich have not gained at the expense of the poor", yet this is a theory insinuated throughout the main article, and specifically mentioned at least once. Perception becomes reality ... but factually not true. (Tolinjr)


I do not support using Wikipedia to segregate criticism or praise. It is not neutral and that is our goal. I don't say that the article doesn't have issues and problems, just that adding to it is not a solution.--Mark Miller (talk) 02:37, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps the section was too long, but there's been a lot pushing of Thomas Piketty work across the project. It would be good to have a contained and cogent section summarizing the counterpoints. There's enough here to create its own article IMHO and then use main article templates as well. This article by its topic also attracts a lot of POV both in which sources are included, as well as the level of detail.Mattnad (talk) 11:59, 14 September 2014 (UTC)


Mark. All of the content of the original income inequality article is 'interpreted' data and statistics. 
Thus, I think any objective person would agree that this topic is subject to a high degree statistical analysis driven by political conjecture and POV (in both directions). So 'reliable sources' is a relative issue (it depends on who you think is reliable). One of the essential points, then ... if we are to be neutral ... is that this article should reflect all relevant viewpoints. This does not occur when the only primary resources used in the article discussion are heavily biased in one direction (i.e. - Piketty: Former French Socialist Party Economic Advisor, Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal, Larry Bartels:"Liberal Political Scientist", Jared Bernstein:Obama Economic Advisor, Thomas Edsall:Political Editor Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren:Liberal Politician, and a plethora of euro-centric economists). I acknowledge that Wiki is heavily influenced by left and left-center intellectuals who will ardently defend an article like this. I understand that. But the criticisms, for the most part, do not challenge the essence of the article. My focus is on only the five criticisms of fact that are essentially inarguable ... and necessary for full consideration of the subject matter, and one important paragraph devoted to a discussion of economic vs political income inequality. I believe, as the previous person above me here seems to concur, that these criticisms either deserve a "cogent section summarizing the counterpoints" or its own article. Tolinjr (talk) 14:15, 14 September 2014 (UTC)


Some of this should be incorporated in the article on Piketty's recent book, if similar arguments aren't there already. I can't see which parts are intended to address the specific points made in this article. Most of the sections which pertain to unsettled questions in this article do include detailed exposition of both opposing views. Are you okay with trimming the portions which don't conform to WP:RS? Some of this material would be appropriate in Economic inequality#Perspectives since clearly none of it is intended to be specific to the U.S., even if many of the examples draw from U.S. data. EllenCT (talk) 22:19, 14 September 2014 (UTC)


EllenCT. Appreciate the input. We are open to inclusion on the Piketty article, however, there are several major assumptions (or claims) made throughout the 'Income Inequality in the United States' article that are factually incorrect. This criticism section addresses those inaccuracies directly. You mention "detailed exposition of both opposing views". From what I could see, there were a handful of brief passing one or two sentence comments with opposing viewpoints (re: Executive and labor pay, Globalization, and a quick quote from Paul Ryan, perhaps one or two more) wherein a comment is couched (or buried) within a particular heading and then it is summarily dismissed in subsequent paragraphs of argument. This is not detailed exposition, nor is it a cogent argument. These were hand-selected one-liners by the person writing the original article for the purpose of making a counter-point in support of their own argument. As far as (RS) Reliable Sources, it can be argued that raw census data (as used heavily throughout the original article) is not a reliable source of data, precisely due to limitations expressed in the above criticism section. Also, there is an issue with 'selective' use of CBO data ... for example, supporters of the article do not want to include 'in-kind' or 'after-tax' income data because it weakens their political argument (they want to show the widest income gap possible). But the Brookings Institute analysis, included in the criticism section, using the same CBO data makes almost the exact opposite point because it adds in those important (and growing) factors. So which one is more reliable? There are literally dozens of resources quoted throughout the original article that are shaky at best (with POV) ... liberal journalists quoting Horatio Alger, NetJets, and "Republican-World" ... union bosses and admittedly left-wing political scientists ... there was even a poet quoted in the text. There is such a preponderance of 'soft' journalistic analysis and opinion mixed in with the data that the article is virtually an opinion piece. Final point, we are not trying to assert that income inequality does not exist, nor are we saying the income inequality is a good thing (those are the straw man arguments). What we are saying is that there are important assumptions being made by the proponents that are incorrect, that some of their data is inappropriate for their analyses, that key 'facts' being thrown around (i.e. "Top 1 Percent" and "The rich are rich at the expense of the poor") are factually incorrect or misleading, and that their solution of central planning/socialist government also contributes to income inequality, but in a vastly different way. How are any of these arguments any different or less appropriate for the article than what is in it already? In an article as controversial as this, for the purpose of keeping it neutral, it only makes sense to include input representing different viewpoints. Right now, it is a singular piece of work, written by authors ... all of whom share the same point of view. If Wikipedia wants to be as neutral as it claims, it must either be willing to legitimately incorporate a dissenting argument or provide a separate platform (article) to achieve it.Tolinjr (talk) 13:46, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

I can assure you beyond a shadow of any doubt that the authors of this article most certainly do not share the same point of view. I understand your points about what you see as insufficient weight given to both sides in some sections, and I would urge you to add your additional perspective to the existing sections that you see as unbalanced instead of creating a new top-level unintegrated section as per WP:CRITS, in addition to my other suggestions above. Please try to rely on reliable sources such as WP:SECONDARY academic journal literature review articles or textbooks from widely regarded experts, instead of blogs, op-eds, and advocacy websites. EllenCT (talk) 19:37, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you EllenCT. First, I can assure you that many of the key contributors to the main article, particularly since early 2014, do have a common point of view (userboxes in editor profiles can be very revealing). You have noted that some of my sources are journalists ... suggesting that they are not reliable sources, yet the original article is rife with commentary and analysis by journalists (Tim Noah (10+ times), James Surowiecki, and perhaps fifty others, as well as several of Paul Krugman's online "Blogs" and his political "OpEds"). Who decides what journalist is reliable or not? Wikipedia has a policy of not citing blogs or opinion pieces ... unless they are from Paul Krugman? Furthermore, there are almost one hundred and fifty citations in the original article sourcing magazines such as the Huffington Post (8 times), New Republic (8 times), Slate (6 times), Mother Jones (3 times), Salon, Politico, Rolling Stone, Harpers, Bloomberg, et. al. Yet, somehow, when I quote the Wall Street Journal, National Affairs, Economist, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, or Brookings Institution, those sources are brought into question and somehow not legitimate? (Interestingly, 10 of the 17 sources cited in the criticism section were also cited in the original article). As a matter of fact, of the 351 sources cited in the original article, just about one third are directly from the census bureau or other scientific citations. The rest are magazines, journals and blogs. Please help me understand why this is. It seems like a moving target. By the way, I really love citation number 219 in the original article ... Intellectual Garbage Collection: The Unreliability of Alan Reynolds (a blog). It is very evident that we are not playing on a level field here. Still, I keep coming back to the main point ... the points presented in the proposed criticism section specifically address incorrect assumptions and facts presented in the original article, with brief discussion supporting why they are relevant. They do not challenge the essence or foundations of the article. The question I have is ... why the hypersensitivity to it? The criticism section represents approximately ten percent of the total article, yet it is considered to have undue weight? Is the subject so sacrosanct that it is above reproach? Truth be told, there are many aspects of the article that need correction, clarity, and balance ... and this proposed section helps provide it. Making inputs on a piecemeal basis, as you recommend ... particularly in an article as massive and slanted as this, reduces them to insignificance. Furthermore, subsequent editors would whittle-away at them over time until they ultimately disappeared, one at a time. That is assured. There needs to be a stand-alone section.


Firstly, professional journalist and expert sources are fine, even when they publish in blogs. I think WP:BLOGS covers the details. Krugman's blog is actually a New York Times column, and he is an acknowledged expert with a history of fact-checking and accuracy as per Paul Krugman#Awards. Noah's articles as used here are WP:SECONDARY reports on other sources in long-form. Having said that, I very strongly prefer peer-reviewed literature reviews in academic journals, but sometimes I am forced to use a WP:NWSRC source when salient facts likely to be called in to question would be behind a paywall otherwise. I only started editing here a couple years ago, and most of the article has existed far prior, so I can't speak for the bulk of the editors who came before me. Since then, I've mostly only been involved with the "economic growth" section because my senior thesis was on Ostry and Berg's 2011 IMF work, where they overcame decades of inconclusive regression by using growth run lengths instead of the (now known to be meaningless) year-over-year forecasting. If you include your perspectives in the individual sections, I don't see why you think that would reduce them to insignificance. People use encyclopedia articles to find information on a specific topic, and that means they are looking for information on, for example, intergenerational economic mobility more often than they are looking for criticism of intergenerational mobility ideas. Does that make sense? EllenCT(talk) 22:18, 15 September 2014 (UTC)


My background is also in economics (Chicago School), as well as business. My thesis was an analysis of the cause and effects of domestic business flight to the southern U.S. (1981). The point at hand is that I have spent a bit of time reviewing the edit history of this article and have noted a handful of Wiki editors who have taken it upon themselves to 'police' political articles and whose implicit purpose, it seems, is to 'protect' them from precisely what I am trying to do. I can guarantee you that each and every sentence added piecemeal will be ... A. Challenged immediately ... B. Summarily erased by a protective activist editor ... or C. Buried in a 'talk' section like this. Rest assured, anything currently in the article that is somewhat critical was put there for the express-purpose of being destroyed by a subsequent counter-point. The only way to make sure that the criticisms are legitimately presented and safeguarded is with its own section (or its own page). This would shield it somewhat from activist 'editor-erosion'. What Wiki really needs is a way to facilitate a team of fair-minded 'reviewers'. Perhaps that is what mediation is. We will find out soon enough.


Please don't take the WP:CRITS setback personally. The WP:NPOV policy usually means that we try to represent the top two contending positions, with as much point-counterpoint as necessary for the reader to make an informed decision about which is most persuasive. But you are correct that there is only one way to find out how fair people will be with your contributions. What do you think about "Confidence Intervals for the Suits Index". National Tax Journal. March 2003. Retrieved 2007-05-16.? EllenCT (talk) 20:50, 16 September 2014 (UTC)


Even the most jaded Wikipedia editor can observe the partisan nature of the original article (although some may never admit it). The stunner for me is how openly this partisanship is practiced, both regarding the information presented to the public and how editing is practiced behind the scenes. Wikipedia acknowledges this somewhat in the article "Criticism of Wikipedia" (yes, they apparently do allow some 'criticism' articles). Wikipedia is still the standard for online encyclopedic information and I think it is important to make it as fair and accurate is we can. I tried to do this before and was shot down by an avowed hard-core socialist editor. I took some advice and re-edited it to remove any possible POV. As it stands now, it is strictly a list that corrects a number of incorrect facts and assumptions in the main article, with brief explanations why. Nevertheless, the feedback I am getting here is that the article is "perfectly fine as it is" ... "don't mess with it" ... "we like it just like this". "If you would like to insert a sentence or so, in the middle of a paragraph in order to qualify it, help yourself, try to sprinkle a few in here and there ... no guarantees we will accept it." It is incredulous that in a 15,000 word article, there can be no room for legitimate discussion and dissent. Sad, really. I read the "Suits Index" article and was immediately reminded why I hated econometrics!! Actually, I'm in favor of starting over and going to a consumption tax. (Tolinjr)


Then I support restoring your criticism section, because it is less likely to be read by people looking for information on which to base a decision, and an encyclopedia which presents such radical regressivism as fringe instead of mainstream is an improvement over an encyclopedia which presents radical views held by only a tiny proportion of economists on equal footing with mainstream views. EllenCT (talk) 03:16, 17 September 2014 (UTC)


Perhaps you took my comments wrong. What I was attempting to do was articulate that econometrics was an aspect of economics that I never really enjoyed. No more than that. However, it must be frustrating for you to observe how ineffective the Keynesian 'mainstream' policy of trillions of dollars of government stimulus, printing, and borrowing money have been ... virtually stagnant economic growth, only increases have been in low-wage and part-time employment, illusionary stock market growth ... and in the end, we will all get to enjoy the benefits of a massive inflationary bubble-burst in the near future. Keynesian policy is corrosive and insidiously damaging to any legitimate free-market growth. It has been employed now for six years now and the results speak for themselves. Tolinjr (talk) 21:37, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

I believe you are mistaken. Even the most strident Chicago School adherents recognize the basic principles of anti-cyclical stimuli, which are best illustrated by the "high" and "low" lines on the graph to the right. There is no evidence of inflation, and the risk of deflation continues to dominate. Please review WP:TALK. It is generally bad form to add text to the end of someone else's paragraph without starting a new paragraph on talk pages. EllenCT (talk) 21:42, 1 October 2014 (UTC)


We disagree as to which views are mainstream. Still, the "criticism" section probably should not exist; the individual mainstream criticisms should be placed near where the minority views (not presented as mainstream) are, although some of the criticisms (and the minority views) should only be in the parent article, income inequality, as they do not refer specifically to the United States. I see now that economical inequality needs to be separated into income inequality and wealth inequality, or income inequality in the United States and wealth inequality in the United States need to be combined. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:37, 17 September 2014 (UTC)


@Tolinjr: what is your evidence for those statements? [1] from [2] is a strong correlation suggesting otherwise, as is [3] based on [4]. EllenCT (talk) 02:18, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

It is what it is ... or as Supreme Court Justice Stewart once said ... "I know it when I see it" The great majority of footnoted material in the original article, whether it is considered reliable or not, is obtained from left-wing/progressive sources, websites, journals, organizations, think-tanks and opinions. Even CBO and Census data is 'spun' to produce certain results ... for the purpose of persuading and bolstering a case for action. This article has been drafted by activists who (almost uniformly) all share the same socio-political philosophies, such as progressive taxation, socialism, etc. This has become very clear in the context of the discussion and commentary surrounding the 'criticism section'. Your vehement comments about regressive taxation (consumption tax) also reveals this. Bill Gates proposed consumption taxes in March and has received significant support for it by several other groups. (Watch this video: ) Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps are not 'fringe' either ... they, too, have earned Nobel Prizes in economics, just like Paul Krugman. It only looks like fringe to you because of your own perspective. And that is the problem with the article in general ... it is written from the left, and is biased with leftist and progressive opinion. Those who wrote it see it as perfectly balanced and with absolutely no need for serious challenge. I understand that. 

But if Wikipedia is to maintain respectability, it must focus on being informative and objective, without resorting to political nuance and persuasion. At the every least, it must permit legitimate criticism and some discussion of alternate context, other than one-liners that can easily and purposefully be shot down. Let me give you an example: The article spews venom on Reagan and Bush for cutting capital gains taxes while they were in office ... yet conveniently, Bill Clinton's capital gains rate cut from 28 to 20 percent in 1997 was never mentioned (until I put it in). Yet, his capital gains cuts were larger than Bush's. So isn't this a form of 'lying by omission'? Of course it is. The authors of the article didn't want to sully Clinton's reputation. That is the problem when same-minded activists do the authoring, the editing, and the policing of the articles. You get a single-minded result. Quite frankly, the entire article needs to be scrapped and fairly re-written. How Wikipedia can accomplish this considering the current extent of its editor demographic is a darned good question.Tolinjr (talk) 19:37, 29 September 2014 (UTC) 

This whole thing was going nowhere fast.  My gut told me that if I capitulated, broke the section into small chunks, and inserted them into the article piecemeal ... that each fragment would be immediately challenged and eventually, almost all of it would be snuffed-out over time by malevolent editors.  As I saw it, it was important to embed the section as a unit to give it a relative degree of protection.

The only recourse was to file for Wiki-Mediation and hope that a Wikipedia administrator would respect my arguments ...



The way Wiki-Mediation works is that an editor will make a formal request, using a template provided by Wikipedia. All 
parties involved in the matter are named and notified.  Upon notification, each editor is asked if they wish to participate in mediation.   If a majority of editors wishes not to participate, the request for mediation is rejected, the situation stalemated, and nothing happens.

I think you can guess what the ultimate outcome of this will be ... which points to a major structural flaw within Wikipedia. The site constantly seeks consensus and is comprised primarily of like-minded editors. In any situation involving editorial conflict, all the majority has to do is not agree to mediate.

Here is the request for mediation ... 

The Mediation Committee has received a request for formal mediation of the dispute relating to "Income Inequality in the United States". As an editor concerned in this dispute, you are invited to participate in the mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process which resolves a dispute over article content by facilitation, consensus-building, and compromise among the involved editors. After reviewing the request page, the formal mediation policy, and the guide to formal mediation, please indicate in the "party agreement" section whether you agree to participate. Because requests must be responded to by the Mediation Committee within seven days, please respond to the request by 24 September 2014.
Discussion relating to the mediation request is welcome at the case talk page. Thank you. Message delivered by MediationBot (talk) on behalf of the Mediation Committee. 15:55, 17 September 2014 (UTC) 

Wikipedia then posts the mediation request online ...

Income Inequality in the United States

Editors involved in this dispute:
Tolinjr (talk · contribs) – filing party
Mark Miller (talk · contribs)
EllenCT (talk · contribs)
Mattnad (talk · contribs)
C.J._Griffin (talk · contribs)

Articles affected by this dispute:
Income inequality in the United States

Issues to be mediated:
Primary issues (added by the filing party):

Income Inequality article is factually incorrect and /or purposefully misleading in several areas. Attempting to clarify five specific points of fact ... and one brief discussion relating to economic (capitalist) vs political (socialist) causes of income inequality with a criticism section.
Criticism section was deleted and moved to talk area for having "undue weight". However, original article is nearly 15,000 words. Criticism section would only represent 10 percent of article (this would make it virtually identical to 'Criticism of 'Capitalism' article ... although 'Criticism of Capitalism' also has its own article, in addition to its own separate section within main 'Capitalism' article).
Criticism section has also been censured by editors for not having reliable sources, although 10 of the 17 seventeen sources were the same sources already listed in the primary article. The remaining seven sources are direct research from University of Chicago, Stanford, Brookings Institution, Federal Reserve, etc.

Recommendations were made to break some of the sections down and insert one or two sentences into the primary article. I contend that in an article this large, separate one-line criticisms can be relegated to obscurity and are easily swamped with counter-journalistic POV, and subject to easy dilution or elimination by subsequent editorship.

The entire primary article is littered with political POV and conjecture ... literally dozens of blogs, and non-relevant sources such as Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, etc. Yet the criticism section seems to be held to a more difficult standard.

Currently, there are a handful of one or two sentence comments with opposing viewpoints currently in the article (re: Executive and labor pay, Globalization, and a quote from Paul Ryan, perhaps one or two more) wherein a comment is couched (or buried) within a particular heading which then is destroyed in subsequent paragraphs of argument. These 'sacrificial lambs' were hand-selected by the people writing the original article for the purpose of making a counter-point in support of their own argument. Classic "straw man" argumentation.

The main article is being policed by leftist editors and any modifications critical of the article are summarily pulled off the article.

Another editor (Mattnad) supports rationale for "a contained and cogent section" within the article.

Issue was extensively, and eventually 'heatedly', discussed online (please read thread) with no result.

In sum, the primary article, as it stands now, is heavily-skewed and factually misleading. A contained and cogent section summarizing the counterpoints needs to be a part of it.

The term 'consensus' is bantered about by editors ... but what good is consensus if all editors who contribute to the article all share the same socio-political world-view? Doesn't that make consensus meaningless? Is the consensus that no challenge to the primary argument be permitted?

For the record (I have said many times). I'm not challenging the overall thrust of the article ... I'm not trying to assert that income inequality does not exist, nor am I saying that income inequality is a good thing.

Today, as a test, I did what other editors recommended. I made four discrete entries in the main text of the article. Within seven hours of my additions, an editor (with whom I had problems with before: CJGRIFFIN) entered qualifying statements either before or after each of the entries with the express intent of negating and nullifying the points being made. This is what I called 'sandwiching' in the discussions I had with the other editors and is precisely the knee-jerk response that I anticipated would happen if I attempted to make any modifications or additions to main body of the text. Here is what I said in those discussions: "Making inputs on a piecemeal basis, as you recommend ... particularly in an article as massive and slanted as this, reduces them to insignificance. Furthermore, subsequent editors would whittle-away at them over time until they ultimately disappeared, one at a time." Well, this is exactly what is happening. In one case, he copies a completely redundant statement (almost exact same sentence), from earlier in the section, complete with same footnote, and drops it in immediately following one of my entries. Sole purpose is to have the last word.

UPDATE: Subsequently (and apparently after reading this comment) he re-edited that redundant comment again, removing it from the first location, but making sure that he gets the final say at the end of my statement.

I have read CJGriffin's comments. Nevertheless, I stand by everything I have said ... and am willing to mediate or do whatever else is required to correct and/or make the article less biased. Whether that is by insertion of individual lines or a separate section. All I ask is that Wiki administrators monitor the actions of follow-up editors such as CJGriffin (please review recent edit history to understand what I mean).

Decision of the Mediation Committee
Reject: Prerequisite for mediation #5 not met (Acceptance by a majority of parties). For the Mediation Committee. — TransporterMan (TALK) 17:02, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Ok.  It was a fait-accompli, but I gave it a shot. I now realized that I had to take a new tack.  But before I did, I wrote to the mediator to ask what the committee's decision meant ...

Notification of Mediation Rejection (Income Inequality)
I have been notified that my request for mediation has been denied. Is it your opinion that I should continue to make edits to the article on a piecemeal basis ... or is another message being implied? Is it your opinion that the article is not biased, and should therefore not subject to criticism or edit? Or is the decision strictly that a separate criticism section is not warranted? Just seeking clarification of meaning and intention of the decision. One other thing, if my observation that the vast majority of editors are 'like-minded' is correct ... and someone proposes to make edits that posits an opposing viewpoint and the edits are removed and/or challenged ... how would a request for mediation ever meet Prerequisite #5?  All the other editors would need to do is not agree to mediation. Doesn't this conundrum make it virtually impossible for someone to make critical edits in good faith? In practice, its a firewall that protects the world-view of the majority.  With that in mind, has Wikipedia undertaken research to determine the composition of its editors? Are its members evenly represented or philosophically and politically skewed? One would think that if Wiki were serious about being 'neutral' that they would want to know this. Thanks.Tolinjr (talk) 19:31, 1 October 2014 (UTC)


The closure is not intended to imply anything about the merits of the dispute or about the merits of the position of any particular party to the dispute. Participation in moderated content dispute resolution is always voluntary and, indeed, more applications for DR (dispute resolution) fail due to refusal or failure to participate than succeed. (Which is, by the way, also true in real world dispute resolution.) However, to require participation or to have some kind of mandatory content arbitration flies in the face of the Wiki model on which Wikipedia is based. As for the demographics of Wikipedia editors, there have been any number of studies, but so long as Wikipedia is "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" then the demographics are simply what they are at any given time. What that may imply, I do not say, but if you'll take a look at the article on Reliability of Wikipedia you'll find that we generally produce a product which is at least very close to the reliability of other encyclopedias, if not equal or better. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 21:13, 1 October 2014 (UTC)


Thank you for the response. A couple of quick thoughts ... I noted that in a previous discussion on your 'talk' page, that the term edit-warring was used. Having been thorough this process, and having interacted with several other editors, I must say that it is an excellent word, indeed. The Wiki system that you describe is one that places moderates (such as myself) ... and certainly conservatives ... in a very difficult position. As I am sure you are aware, the demographics of current editors is not a reflection of the public at large. A brief review of editor's user pages and their selection of userboxes reveals this almost immediately. As a matter of fact, as I was building my own user page, I found dozens of pro-socialist, green party, anti-Bush, 99 per center, Occupy Wall Street, pro-Marx and Saul Alinsky, and almost a hundred various pro-Obama userboxes available ... yet I could not find a single one ... not one ... that was labeled 'business-owner' or 'entrepreneur' ... and there was only one that mentioned 'free-enterprise' at all. This is clearly a reflection of the socio-demographic of the editors. In fact, it would be easy for Wikipedia to tabulate which userboxes are being used, and how often ... and the results would be quite clarifying. (Tolinjr)

Yes. I had begun to build my own Wikipedia user page. I decided it would be a good idea to make my own personal statement as an editor.  I began by looking through the thousands of userboxes that Wikipedia made available for its editors.  I was able to scrounge up a few ... helicopter pilot, black belt in Taekwondo, Ohio State grad, and a couple more.  But when it came to political or economic userboxes ... there were none signifying 'entrepreneur' or 'small business owner' or 'company president' or 'free-market economist.'  I was able to find one user box that mentioned 'Free Enterprise' and that was it.  

I think more than anything, the type of userboxes made available and their level of proliferation speaks volumes about the constituent makeup of its editors.

Here is a link to Wikipedia's userbox index: (Have fun!!)


(Story continues in Chapter Six: Guerrilla Edit-Warfare)


Neutral point of view and conflicts of interest
Wikipedia regards the concept of a neutral point of view (NPOV) as one of its non-negotiable principles; however, it acknowledges that such a concept has its limitations – its policy indeed states that articles should be "as far as possible" written without bias. also wrote that this may be an impossible ideal due to the inevitable biases of editors.
In August 2007, a tool called WikiScanner developed by Virgil Griffith, a visiting researcher from the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, was released to match anonymous IP edits in the encyclopedia with an extensive database of addresses. News stories appeared about IP addresses from various organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Diebold, Inc. and the Australian government being used to make edits to Wikipedia articles, sometimes of an opinionated or questionable nature.  Another story stated that an IP address from the BBC itself had been used to vandalize the article on George W. Bush. The BBC quoted a Wikipedia spokesperson as praising the tool: "We really value transparency and the scanner really takes this to another level. Wikipedia Scanner may prevent an organisation or individuals from editing articles that they're really not supposed to."

Exposure to political operatives and advocates
While Wikipedia policy requires articles to have a neutral point of view, it is not immune from attempts by outsiders (or insiders) with an agenda to place a spin on articles. In January 2006 it was revealed that several staffers of members of the U.S. House of Representatives had embarked on a campaign to cleanse their respective bosses' biographies on Wikipedia, as well as inserting negative remarks on political opponents. References to a campaign promise by Martin Meehan to surrender his seat in 2000 were deleted, and negative comments were inserted into the articles on U.S. Senator Bill Frist and Eric Cantor, a congressman from Virginia. Numerous other changes were made from an IP address which is assigned to the House of Representatives. In an interview, Wikipedia de facto leader Jimmy Wales remarked that the changes were "not cool."

Commandeering or sanitizing articles
Articles of particular interest to an editor or group of editors are sometimes commandeered and sanitized. Organizations like Sony, Diebold, Nintendo, Dell, the CIA and the Church of Scientology were all shown to have sanitized pages about themselves to continually reflect a point of view that sheds a favorable light on the subject or group. Editors essentially "squat" on pages, watching for negative entries, then immediately revert them. This is especially true of pages on politicians as shown on USA Congressional staff edits to Wikipedia. There are also accusations of editors sanitizing pages to remove any negative information about persons or organizations. The page on Scientology has also been subject to being commandeered and has been put under the Wikipedia:Protection policy. These habits of commandeering, sanitizing and squatting discourage informed experts from spending the time and attention to make well-footnoted entries for fear that accurate and time-consuming work will be quickly deleted.

There have been suggestions that a politically liberal viewpoint is predominant. According to Jimmy Wales: "The Wikipedia community is very diverse, from liberal to conservative to libertarian and beyond. If averages mattered, and due to the nature of the wiki software (no voting) they almost certainly don’t, I would say that the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average, because we are global and the international community of English speakers is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population. There are no data or surveys to back that." Andrew Schlafly created Conservapedia because of his perception that Wikipedia contained a liberal bias. Conservapedia's editors have compiled a list of alleged examples of liberal bias in Wikipedia. In 2007, an article in The Christian Post criticised Wikipedia's coverage of intelligent design, saying that it was biased and hypocritical. Lawrence Solomon of the National Review considered the Wikipedia articles on subjects like global warming, intelligent design, and Roe v. Wade all to be slanted in favor of liberal views.

In a September 2010 issue of the conservative weekly Human Events, Rowan Scarborough presented a critique of Wikipedia's coverage of American politicians prominent in the approaching midterm elections as evidence of systemic liberal bias. Scarborough compared the biographical articles of liberal and conservative opponents in Senate races in the Alaska Republican primary and the Delaware and Nevada general election, emphasizing the quantity of negative coverage of tea party-endorsed candidates. He also cited some criticism by Lawrence Solomon and quoted in full the lead section of Wikipedia's article on its rival Conservapedia as evidence of an underlying bias. In 2012, a professor at Northwestern University and another professor at the University of Southern California analyzed Wikipedia articles on U.S. politics, going back a decade, and wrote a study that showed that articles with a large number of contributors lead to more unbiased articles, but that the majority of articles still retain a Democrat lean from Wikipedia's early years.

Level of debate, edit wars and harassment
The standard of debate on Wikipedia has been called into question by persons who have noted that contributors can make a long list of salient points and pull in a wide range of empirical observations to back up their arguments, only to have them ignored completely on the site. An academic study of Wikipedia articles found that the level of debate among Wikipedia editors on controversial topics often degenerated into counterproductive squabbling:
"For uncontroversial, 'stable' topics self-selection also ensures that members of editorial groups are substantially well-aligned with each other in their interests, backgrounds, and overall understanding of the topics ... For controversial topics, on the other hand, self-selection may produce a strongly misaligned editorial group. It can lead to conflicts among the editorial group members, continuous edit wars, and may require the use of formal work coordination and control mechanisms. These may include intervention by administrators who enact dispute review and mediation processes, [or] completely disallow or limit and coordinate the types and sources of edits." In 2008, a team from the Palo Alto Research Center found that for editors that make between two and nine edits a month, the percentage of their edits being reverted had gone from 5% in 2004 to about 15%, and people who only make one edit a month were being reverted at a 25% rate. According to The Economist magazine (2008), "The behaviour of Wikipedia's self-appointed deletionist guardians, who excise anything that does not meet their standards, justifying their actions with a blizzard of acronyms, is now known as “wiki-lawyering”. In regards to the decline in the number of Wikipedia editors since the 2007 policy changes, another study stated this was partly down to the way "in which newcomers are rudely greeted by automated quality control systems and are overwhelmed by the complexity of the rule system." Another complaint about Wikipedia focuses on the efforts of contributors with idiosyncratic beliefs, who push their point of view in an effort to dominate articles, especially controversial ones. This sometimes results in revert wars and pages being locked down. In response, an Arbitration Committee has been formed on the English Wikipedia that deals with the worst alleged offenders – though a conflict resolution strategy is actively encouraged before going to this extent.

Consensus and the "hive mind"
Oliver Kamm, in an article for The Times, expressed skepticism toward Wikipedia's reliance on consensus in forming its content:
Wikipedia seeks not truth but consensus, and like an interminable political meeting the end result will be dominated by the loudest and most persistent voices. Wikimedia advisor Benjamin Mako Hill acknowledged Wikipedia's disproportional representation of viewpoints: In Wikipedia, debates can be won by stamina. If you care more and argue longer, you will tend to get your way. The result, very often, is that individuals and organizations with a very strong interest in having Wikipedia say a particular thing tend to win out over other editors who just want the encyclopedia to be solid, neutral, and reliable. These less-committed editors simply have less at stake and their attention is more distributed. In his article, Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism (first published online by Edge: The Third Culture, 30 May 2006), computer scientist and digital theorist Jaron Lanier describes Wikipedia as a "hive mind" that is "for the most part stupid and boring", and asks, rhetorically, "why pay attention to it?" His thesis follows: The problem is in the way that Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous. Lanier goes on to argue the economic trend to reward entities that aggregate information, rather than those that actually generate content. In the absence of "new business models", the popular demand for content will be sated by mediocrity, thus reducing or even eliminating any monetary incentives for the production of new knowledge. Lanier's opinions produced some strong disagreement. Internet consultant Clay Shirky noted that Wikipedia has many internal controls in place and is not a mere mass of unintelligent collective effort: Neither proponents nor detractors of hive mind rhetoric have much interesting to say about Wikipedia itself, because both groups ignore the details... Wikipedia is best viewed as an engaged community that uses a large and growing number of regulatory mechanisms to manage a huge set of proposed edits... To take the specific case of Wikipedia, the Seigenthaler/Kennedy debacle catalyzed both soul-searching and new controls to address the problems exposed, and the controls included, inter alia, a greater focus on individual responsibility, the very factor "Digital Maoism" denies is at work.

Social stratification
It has been argued that, despite the perception of Wikipedia as a "shining example of Web democracy", "a small number of people are running the show." In an article on Wikipedia conflicts in 2007, The Guardian discussed "a backlash among some editors, who argue that blocking users compromises the supposedly open nature of the project and the imbalance of power between users and administrators may even be a reason some users choose to vandalise in the first place" based on the experiences of one editor who became a vandal after his edits were reverted and he was blocked for edit warring.


With all that had transpired, I now knew that if I was to accomplish my goal, to make this Wikipedia page better, I needed to steel myself and prepare for all-out edit-warfare.  I returned to the work I had already done and began to cut and paste, making insertions into the main body of the article. I often modified sentences to make sure they made sense in the context of the work.  In less than two hours, C.J. Griffin removed my first entries, but this time, I reverted his changes  and explained why I did.  I had finally come to realize that he had no more right to control the contents of the page than anyone else.  

So I continued.  I made a point of not modifying other editor's arguments, but instead, did what was recommended earlier, adding a counterpoint or two to assertions that were misleading, inaccurate, or flatly incorrect.  To get it right, the process took several days.

In addition to making the edits, I also informed other editors on the site by making a statement on the article 'Talk' page ...

Which is more important ... preserving a political narrative ... or making significant corrections of inaccuracies and facts in the article??
User:C.J. Griffin wishes to strike the following section because it does not fit the narrative of the article: It is a misstatement of fact to assert that all of the Top 1 Percent of Americans have all made relative wealth gains in recent years, however. Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley published research in 2014, "The Distribution of US Wealth, Capital Income and Returns since 1913," asserting that since 1960, relative wealth growth has only occurred in within the Top .1 Percent of Americans. Furthermore, their analysis also shows that since 1960, those between the Top 1 Percent and Top .5 Percent have actually lost a significant share of wealth. To be more precise, more than half of the "Top 1 Percent" have lost wealth over the past fifty years. 

C.J. Griffin would prefer that the article be maintained as is because the political narrative heretofore as been that the Top 1 Percent is often viewed as a monolithic group, all of whom have benefitted at the expense of the lower quartiles. The facts, provided by his own often-named source, economist Emmanuel Saez, prove that this is NOT FACTUALLY TRUE. Throughout the article, the Top 1 Percent is mentioned at least two dozen times, with many supporting charts, etc. But the fact is that more than half of the Top 1 Percent (those between the top 1 percent and .5 percent) have NOT GAINED IN WEALTH IN THE PAST 50 YEARS (BETWEEN 1960 and 2012). In fact, they, like the other quartiles below them ... have LOST WEALTH. This factual reality, conclusively confirmed by Saez in 2014, is that only the Top .1 Percent has significantly gained in income and wealth. This is an essential point of difference, because it drives home the fact that income and wealth compression is far worse, and more specific, to corporate and political elites (those with incomes over $2,000,000 per year). C.J. Griffin would prefer to maintain an article that is both factually inaccurate and knowingly misleading, for the sake of maintaining a particular political narrative. I disagree. For this reason, I have replaced the text in its original location. I am open to any input that would increase the accuracy of the facts as presented in the article. However, I believe that this is such a significantly important correction of fact, especially considering how many times Top 1 Percent is flippantly used throughout the article (three times in the article's opening paragraph and 14 more times in the 'History' section alone), that it must be prominently and clearly stated, as early in the article as possible. Tolinjr (talk) 13:01, 11 October 201

This caused a massive reaction on the part of C.J. Griffin, where he finally spewed his political rhetoric for all of Wikipedia to see ...

You are making an absolute wreck of this article, as YOU are the one adding POV. For example, you italicise the points that fit YOUR political perspective and often using wikipedia's voice, such as this little nugget: "He asserts that this is a critically important and fundamental misconception, because corporatism is not an extension of capitalism ... it is actually a derivative of socialism." Talk about factually inaccurate and misleading! This is of course anything BUT fact, and you italicise this BS in wikipedia's voice, which is HIGHLY WP:undue. In my view, what you fail to understand is that laissez-faire leads to corporatocracy through corruption of the public sector by big money, much like the Koch brothers (who inherited much of their wealth by the way) are doing today and the robber barons did in the Gilded Age. Laissez-faire capitalism is utopian nonsense and in practice will always result in monopolies, corruption of government, unstable economies, wealth concentration and inequality, and rampant exploitation of the working classes. These were all characteristics of the Gilded Age, and the poverty, inequality and abysmal working and living conditions resulted in the most violent labor clashes of the 19th century, including the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Massacre, the Homestead Strike, the Pullman Strike and on and on. Government often assisted the capitalists and theirpinkerton thugs in massacring workers as the government was beholden to the capitalists! Much like in the 19th century, it is capitalist entities and the wealthy that have too much power over the government, not the other way around! A perfect example of this phenomenon, which has gone global, would be where the grand neoliberal experiment was first conducted - Augusto Pinochet's Chile from 1973-1990 - which now is the most inegalitarian nation in the OECD thanks to his "free market" reforms via the Chicago boys. Your fantasy world of unfettered capitalism creating a stable, prosperous and egalitarian society is just that - a fantasy. Democracy must keep capitalism in check or oligarchic tyranny will result, as Piketty and other economists, political scientists and sociologists rightly assert. Political philosopher Sheldon Wolin echos FDR when he notes that the US is moving towards inverted totalitarianism - where cutthroat private entities push democratic forces out of the public sector, essentially creating a form of corporate fascism. And you clearly don't understand socialism at all, as there are many different perspectives, including Libertarian socialism (anarchism) and social democracy. Socialism is not just communism and "statism", and has absolutely nothing in common with corporate fascism. In truth, what still barely exists of socialism in practice, such as the social democratic systems of the Scandinavian countries and in particular Norway and Denmark (Sweden went too neoliberal over the last decade, but regained their sanity as inequality skyrocketed and in 2014 put the social democrats back in power), spawned some of the most egalitarian societies on earth with high rates of social mobility, and this largely attributable to such social democratic initiatives as tuition free higher education and universal healthcare. They dominate all of the indices pertaining to democratic governance, prosperity and overall human well being. So socialism (in the form of social democracy) doesn't exacerbate inequality as you spewed in the article but actually mitigates it. You also fail to understand that this is an article on income inequality, NOT wealth inequality. Emmanuel Saez was one of the authors of a study which postulated that the top 1% have gained huge shares of income since the 1970s, which more than doubled from 9% in 1976 to 20% in 2011. He also noted in another study that since the recession the top 1% have gained a whopping 95% of all new income. So much for the top 1% losing ground on income gains!!! But I digress... Anyway, you are inserting huge walls of text in places they don't belong. To me, it makes little sense to plug a paragraph discussing inequality in "recent years" in the history section between the decline of inequality following WWII and the post 1970 increase. Again, highly undue. Your attack on Piketty's work, which was also included there until I removed it, has been restored and moved elsewhere I see, indicating that even you understand it didn't belong there in the first place. I'd say that given the undue attack on Piketty in the opening paragraph of an entire section, this will have to be removed yet again. And while I have made contributions to this article over the last year or so, I'm not its creator. I doubt I have contributed even 10% of its content. It existed long before I started making contributions. You act as if this is some personal crusade against me. IMO, your additions are actually making a mess of a long standing article - what with endless ranting on corporatism, socialism and Michael Moore movies (forcing me to add balance in the following paragraphs) - which is made up of contributions from a great manyeditors (POV italics mine).--C.J. Griffin (talk) 18:59, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

To which I responded ...

C.J. Griffin ... I attempted to balance what is a completely partisan article with a separate criticism section months ago. You tore it out and shot it down. Since then, other editors, as well as Wikipedia advisors, have recommended that I insert pieces of that section into the article. I have done that. The article, as it was before I got involved, was a completely one-sided document, full of 'gilded age', 'great compression', and 'top 1 percent' verbiage. Maybe you're too close, but do you realize that the use of all three of these statements are examples of political bias and POV? 'Top 1 percent' is mentioned no less than two dozen times (or more) in the article, yet the phrase itself (asserting that the top 1 percent have improved their state by taking from the other 99 percent) is factually not true. You know this. Your own economic prophet (whom you reference at least five times in the article), Emmanuel Saez, confirmed in 2014 that more than half of the 'top 1 percent' have lost relative wealth since 1960, just like everyone in the quartiles below them. His study clearly shows that only the top .1 percent have made significant gains during that same time period. This is a very important fact, don't you think? I realize that this does not 'fit' with your political narrative ... 99 percenters vs the 1 percent ... but the facts speak for themselves. Two more points about Saez' 2014 study ... The Distribution of US Wealth, Capital Income and Returns since 1913 ... his analysis goes back and forth between income and wealth, mainly because over time, they are inextricably linked. Wealth is the long-term accumulation of income. The Gilded Age and Rockefellers are not included in the article (and constantly mentioned by Piketty and Krugman) just because they had income, they are notable (and named in the article) because of wealth. I urge all sincere and interested editors to read the article (Income Inequality in the United States) and ask yourselves ... how much of it factually details and explains what income inequality is ... and how much is political supposition as to the cause of it. For example: The second sentence of the article starts with a condemnation of capitalism ... and then it goes from there, with a parade of political accusations and suppositions from a plethora of progressive, liberal, and Marxist intellectuals ... so blame is being laid before the term 'income inequality' is even defined. A bit odd, isn't it? I suggest that the article be re-written, completely focused on the data, defining trends and facts of the subject in the first half or so. If editors want to present theoretical causes and remedies of income inequality, they should be contained in a secondary section (allowing for differing theories) in the latter half. The problem with the article as it stands now, is that throughout its entire length, it mixes factual information with political opinion, supposition, and POV. The same people and same arguments are quoted over and over again. Saez, Krugman, Noah, and Piketty literally dozens of times ... 'Gilded Age' at least five times ... 'Top 1 Percent' two-dozen times. For the record, I did not pick this battle ... I would have been happy with a 'separate cogent criticism section' as another editor originally recommended ... but you and other partisan editors decided against it and forced this edit-war. I have said this before; I think we can agree that income inequality does exist. Where we do not agree are the root causes of it. You point your finger at me and say that I am 'ranting' about corporatism ... is that not exactly what you are doing when you relentlessly skewer capitalism? We are having a discussion here ... you are not standing on Wall Street with a bullhorn. 

For every Nobel economist you produce that blames capitalism, I can produce another who does not. 

Truth be told ... we are actually not that far apart. You believe that corporations have become too powerful and have overtaken the state (corporatocracy). I believe that corporations have become too powerful and have formed a partnership with the state (corporatism). Where we part ways, is that you cannot allow yourself to believe that the state would be an active participant with corporations, because it would undercut your belief in the purity and necessity of state-run socialism. You simply cannot rationalize that government can be part of the problem ... because you want government to be the solution. It is natural for you blame capitalism, because in your view, corporations are capitalism ... and capitalism must be destroyed in order to pave the way for socialism. I get it. I can easily see your mindset in the history lesson you provided above. 

I am a small business owner, a capitalist. I am not in the top 1 percent, but I hope to be someday. I view corporatism not as capitalism, but as a threat to capitalism. I am able to segregate capitalism from corporatism ... capitalism is the corner dry cleaner, the local restaurant, the nearby bed and breakfast ... Main Street USA. These 'capitalists' are not the creators of the income inequality problem we have today. But when I see Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Immelt, and Warren Buffett cozying up to Obama at a fund-raiser, I see corporatism ... not corporatocracy ... and certainly not capitalism. C.J. ... For the record, among the most frequent Criticisms of Wikipedia are systemic bias, partisanship, 'hive mind' consensus, and exposure to political operatives. I would submit to you that an article like "Income Inequality in the United States" would be particularly subject to all of these. In addition, Wikipedia also recognizes that political bias exists (Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/Politics) and here is their recommendation ... Rather than only encouraging existing users, attempt to recruit new users to the project who can help counter these biases. C.J. ... I am one of those new users ... and I am here to counter those biases. I am open to any ideas or discussion about how we can best move forward.Tolinjr (talk) 16:52, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

He retorted with ...

"full of 'gilded age', 'great compression', and 'top 1 percent' verbiage. but do you realize that the use of all three of these statements are examples of political bias and POV?" Oh please... Referring to the tail end of the 19th century as the Gilded Age is not at all POV, as it is pretty much a universally accepted description given to us by Mark Twain (but he was one of those darn socialists!!! oh noes!!!) Now compare this to the example of blatant bias on your part by italicizing points of view you agree with. This is an example of POV pushing and should be corrected. "Your own economic prophet (whom you reference at least five times in the article), Emmanuel Saez, confirmed in 2014 that more than half of the 'top 1 percent' havelost relative wealth since 1960, just like everyone in the quartiles below them." But they have gained the disproportionate share of income since the late 1970s, the beginning of the neoliberal era. This is irrefutable and the studies by Saez I posted in the 6th paragraph above confirm this. You are merely attempting to obfuscate the issue by emphasising wealth inequality. "they are inextricably linked. Wealth is the long-term accumulation of income." Not necessarily. Denmark has the greatest income equality in the world, but also some of the greatest wealth inequality. Go figure. "how much of it factually details and explains what income inequality is" I'd say the vast majority of it until recently. Again, you are confusing the issue. Saez and others, including an analysis of income data by the OECD, definitively prove that income gains have gone disproportionately to the top 1%. "You believe that corporations have become too powerful and have overtaken the state (corporatocracy). I believe that corporations have become too powerful and have formed a partnership with the state (corporatism)." I believe that money talks and bullshit walks. Wealth concentration, an inevitability under unfettered capitalism and reaching Gilded Age levels in this neoliberal era, allows undue influence over the public sector by those who have it (the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, etc), pushing aside those who don't (crushing democracy and establishing oligarchy - a more apt description perhaps than corporatocracy). Interestingly enough, it's the political Right - not the Left (and no, the Democratic party is not Left by my estimation) - who is paving the way to oligarchy through the Citizens United court ruling (pushed by the Kochs) and the establishment of nefarious lobbying organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (funded by the Kochs). The latter brings together conservative state legislatures and corporate lobbyists to create such wonderful "pro-market" initiatives as ag-gag laws and the privatization of public functions, including prisons. Incidentally, the emergence of the prison-industrial complex in the 1980s is partly responsible for the US having the highest incarceration rates and largest prison population of any nation on earth. Attaching the profit motive to incarceration was clearly not a good idea, but that's neoliberalismfor you... "You point your finger at me and say that I am 'ranting' about corporatism ... is that not exactly what you are doing when you relentlessly skewer capitalism?" Prior to your edits, "capitalism" was mentioned one time in the article I believe, towards the beginning. It was also a recent edition to the article and was not added by myself. My recent emphasis in response to your additions has been on neoliberalism, so your charge is bogus. "You simply cannot rationalize that government can be part of the problem ... because you want government to be the solution. It is natural for you blame capitalism, because in your view, corporations are capitalism ... and capitalism must be destroyed in order to pave the way for socialism. I get it." No, I don't think you do. I am not an advocate of tyrannical state socialism like the former USSR; Stalinism was murderous rubbish. I am for empowering democracy to restrain the excesses of capitalism and also empowering the working class through the strengthening of Unions (which helped push through the New Deal and especially the Fair Labor Standards Act, which wiped out sweatshops in the nation, much to the chagrin of the capitalists) and other populist, progressive and democratic movements (i.e.,Occupy Wall Street, etc). The Scandinavian social democracies have some of the highest rates of union membership and some of the highest per-capita wages - not a coincidence! I am also very interested in the idea of economic democracy and worker cooperatives as correctives to the inequality, poverty and corruption that is the inevitable result of unrestrained capitalism. Mondragon in Spain and the Evergreen Cooperatives of Ohio should be shining examples to America and the world of the direction we should be heading. This is also the core aspect of socialism, workers democratically controlling the means of production. "But when I see Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Immelt, and Warren Buffett cozying up to Obama at a fund-raiser, I see corporatism ... not corporatocracy ... and certainly not capitalism." I see this as a phenomenon of the American political and economic system since the beginning. This is hardly different from the robber barons buying influence back in the 19th century. Are you going to simply brand that as "corporatism" as well? This is the way it has been since the emergence of industrial capitalism following the Civil War and perhaps prior to that, with the undue influence of capitalist slaveholders in the South over politics there. Richard Wolff was 100% right when he said that "pure" capitalism is a fantasy and has never existed in the United States. But I grow tired of going round and round with you as neither of us is making any headway with the other. I'll wait for others who contribute to this article to weigh in on the issue of your recent additions, which I believe should be significantly altered (especially the POV italics) or removed altogether.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 21:17, 12 October 2014 (UTC)  


Ok. So we have a basic disagreement of opinion. We can battle it out ... or seek a solution. How do you suggest we facilitate the expression of both (or all) opinions in the article? Can you agree that we should start with a definition of income inequality, first (without political judgment or commentary in the opening sentences)? Is it possible to present the income and trend data without political spin? (This might be more difficult than you think). Can you agree to keep theoretical cause and political supposition off the table for the first portion of the article while the issue, itself, is being defined? If you can agree to that, then we can move to the second part. Do you accept that legitimate alternative opinions can exist, other than yours, and that they should have the same right of being expressed as yours? And that they should receive the same respect and space as yours? I agree with you that the article would be better served if it wasn't a textual volleyball match, with tit for tat commentary going back and forth (that is why I initially suggested a separate criticism section). Would you be amenable to a 'Potential Causes' section where you could state your case, I could state mine, and others could state theirs ... keeping the political banter and POV contained in such a section? In sum, can you agree that a Wikipedia article such as this should be about 'information' ... and not be a platform for political propagandizing? I'm open if you're open.Tolinjr (talk) 13:20, 13 October 2014 (UTC)


I would agree to the removal of references to capitalism, corporatism and neoliberalism in the lede. I would also insist that ALL references to wealth inequality, especially the paragraph you inserted where it should not be (the history section), be moved to its own sub-section so as not to confuse readers, kind of like how poverty has its own small sub-section in the article. The huge opening paragraph you inserted to the "causes" section should also be moved to this same section and significantly modified or deleted altogether as it is largely an undue attack on Piketty, and the content of that BS paragraph has little to do with thecauses of income disparity and is largely pushing economic liberalism. I would also insist that your pov italics be removed. The latter is absolutely non-negotiable as it is obvious POV pushing. Your additions on "corporatism" and my response to it can remain in my opinion, but perhaps it should also be moved to its own sub-section as it is clearly an ideological debate on the causes of income inequality. Those are my recommendations. I hope other editors reading this will contribute to the discussion and make their own recommendations before any significant changes are made.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 15:20, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

Another editor joins the fray, trying to lend support to C.J. Griffin ...

I just read "For example, in an article entitled Why We're In A New Gilded Age, Paul Krugman discusses the findings of Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and argues that the United States is developing into another patrimonial-capitalist society (controlled by only a few multi-generational wealthy families) much like nineteenth-century Europe." and then read the given article. Were is Kruman talking about a "patrimonial-capitalist society" and "only a few multi-generational wealthy families"? --Pass3456 (talk) 19:27, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

I respond to both C.J. Griffin and Pass3456 ...

POV pushing goes both ways. If we remove all wealth references, then we must also remove all references to 'Gilded Age', 'Rockefellers', 'patrimonial-capitalism' etc., as they are primarily directed at the wealthy, not necessarily those with high incomes. Economic theory is not an absolute. Nobody has absolute knowledge in this realm, not Piketty, not Krugman ... nobody. Therefore, it is subject to differing analyses and perspectives as to cause. If Piketty, or anyone else, makes a claim that uses questionable (or selective) data or has been challenged by someone of equal caliber, then I see no problem with including it. It is not a personal attack, it is a legitimate challenge of economic theory (or in this case, a correction of statistical fact) by highly respected peers, who happened to prove (in this particular case) that his assertion is wrong. 

The bottom line is, corporatism is just as much a legitimate theory for income inequality as corporatocracy ... and I am sure there are others too. One thing to which I am non-negociable ... 'Top 1 Percent' is a political buzzword (thus POV), it is also factually incorrect and misleading for reasons already discussed. Based on your position, it would be perfectly okay to say the top 50 percent made greater gains than the bottom fifty percent. It is true ... but completely misleading. If half of the 'Top 1 Percent' have also lost ground financially, and you do not recognize that fact, then you are simply not being truthful, or purposefully deceitful ... all so you can wave that "99 Percenter"  flag. That is POV. That is not right and it does not belong in a reference article such as this. 

(Regarding Pass3456) As for the Krugman article. Krugman wrote the article, including the title. He believes we are in a second Gilded Age ... that is why he wrote, Why We Are In A New Gilded Age as the title to his article. He used the term six times in the article. He completely agrees with Piketty's analysis that we have entered a second Belle Epoque (as characterized in his book as a patrimonial-capitalist / aristocratic society). Here is a Krugman quote from the review,"It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age—or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque." Furthermore, Wikipedia's own bio on Paul Krugman also states that he has said that we are in a second Gilded Age. Similarly, Wikipedia's article on Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, clearly mentions the term patrimonial-capitalist society. Wikipedia defines Belle Epoque as a period of economic aristocracy. Wikipedia defines Aristocracy (class) primarily in terms of 'wealthy families'. By the way, Wikipedia defines Gilded Age with such terms as 'inegalitarian' and ... 'industrialists and financiers (specific family names listed) were labeled "robber barons" by their critics, who argue their fortunes were made at the expense of the working class.' Krugman also extensively discusses inherited wealth as being a prime factor in income inequality, thus the natural 'family' connotation. I think it is pretty safe to say that Krugman was talking about the new aristocracy (wealthy families) and patrimonial-capitalist society in his review.Tolinjr (talk) 15:14, 14 October 2014 (UTC)


Please be cautious not to make a straw man fallacy and please read chapter 3: "Piketty is, of course, too good and too honest an economist to try to gloss over inconvenient facts. “US inequality in 2010,” he declares, “is quantitatively as extreme as in old Europe in the first decade of the twentieth century, but the structure of that inequality is rather clearly different.” Indeed, what we have seen in America and are starting to see elsewhere is something “radically new”—the rise of “supersalaries.” ... Yet we shouldn’t overreact to this. Even if the surge in US inequality to date has been driven mainly by wage income, capital has nonetheless been significant too. And in any case, the story looking forward is likely to be quite different. The current generation of the very rich in America may consist largely of executives rather than rentiers, people who live off accumulated capital, but these executives have heirs. And America two decades from now could be a rentier-dominated society even more unequal than Belle Époque Europe. But this doesn’t have to happen." --Pass3456 (talk) 19:48, 14 October 2014 (UTC)


Thanks. This gets to the heart of the issue, as I was discussing with C.J. Its really not just about income, its about wealth. Why else is Krugman's first recommendation to deal with income inequality ... wealth taxes? How were the Rockefellers able to make huge income gains each year ... because of wealth.Tolinjr (talk) 14:13, 15 October 2014 (UTC)


C.J. ... For what its worth ... I recently found an article, written by Paul Krugman, where he supports what I have been saying all along. He says the war for income inequality should not be focused between the 99% and 1 percent ... he says it should be between the 99.9% and the .1 percent ( In this article, he makes the critical distinction between 99% and 99.9% (the merely wealthy and super-elites) ... and recommends that punitive taxation or other policies should be focused on those super-elites (as opposed to the top 1 percent in general). The Atlantic also published a similar piece, using Saez' income study, to make the same point: (talk) 20:43, 15 October 2014 (UTC)


The Krugman article does not support everything you've been spewing here - not by a long shot. It certainly doesn't bolster your claim that "it's all corporatism"! No one disputes that, as the aforementioned OECD study says, "within the group of top-income earners, incomes became more concentrated, tilting towards the richest of the rich." But the fact remains that the 1% as a whole are running away with significant levels of both wealth and income compared to everyone else. According to Saez, after the recession 95% of all income gains went to the top 1%, and Stiglitz tells us that 40% of the nations wealth is held by the same class. In fact, a new study by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse notes that this is a global phenomenon, with the top (global) 1% hoarding 48% of the world's wealth. If anything, this bolsters my point of view: that globalized neoliberalism has resulted in "exactly what one would expect: a massive increase in social and economic inequality, a marked increase in severe deprivation for the poorest nations and peoples of the world, a disastrous global environment, an unstable global economy and an unprecedented bonanza for the wealthy." (the quote is from the introduction to Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order.) And just because Krugman says something doesn't mean it's "gold" to me. For example, I vehemently disagree with his recent assertion that Obama is one of our greatest presidents. Elizabeth Warren's assessment seems more accurate to me. But I digress... Oh, and if you believe that Gilded Age is a POV attack on the wealthy, then you are truly clueless. This has already been explained to you. That whole paragraph, which is not even properly formatted and I'm sure confusing to some readers, is comparing apples to oranges. Did I not say we should move all wealth references to their own sub-section? This an article on income inequality after all! And for the record "corporatocracy" is not mentioned in the article even once. Stop making stuff up to justify your recent edits which have lowered the quality of this article for the reasons I've already stated.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 20:48, 15 October 2014 (UTC)


Right ... "According to Saez, after the recession 95% of all income gains went to the top 1%" ... and more precisely, and truthfully, and accurately ... ALL of it went to the top .1 percent (Read the analysis!!). Everyone else in the top 1 percent are losing ground or treading water. Why can't you accept the reality of it? It's because you need the whole '99 percent vs 1 percent' argument, even if its false. As far as income ... if one of your primary recommendations at the close of the article is to implement new and more progressive 'Taxes on the Wealthy,' then this article is no longer merely a discussion about income. Gilded Age and Belle Epoque and Patrimonial-Capitalism and Rockefellers have nothing to do with income and everything to do with wealth. Let's get real. Wealth and income are inextricably linked and to attempt to separate the two for the sake of making a political argument would be a farce. If you cannot understand that the bottom line problem with income inequality in the United States is the ensuing long-term concentration of wealth, then I just don't know what to say. Tolinjr(talk) 18:27, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

At this point, Arthur Rubin (a very senior, and highly respected, editor) steps in to make his presence known ...

I've removed most of the analysis as to whether corporatism is capitalism or socialism, as the connection to this article is not sourced. (I am not commenting as to whether it is properly sourced, or an WP:NPOB violation.) We have independent sources that corporatism contributes to inequality, and that neoliberalism contributes to inequality. That they are the same (or even related) requires WP:SYNTHESIS. I suggest that the neoliberalism paragraphs be split to a different subsection than the corporatism paragraphs. Even if the same sources were used, those sources would have to connect corporatism and neoliberalism, in order for both to appear in the article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:12, 9 November 2014 (UTC)


I agree with the changes that have been made. The whole debate on corporatism being socialism or capitalism was not appropriate for this article. I'm also pleased to see that the discussion on wealth inequality has been moved to its own sub-section.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 12:54, 10 November 2014 (UTC)


Arthur Rubin, thank you for the re-organization. Article is much improved and more cohesive. Only a few questions: Should "capitalism" be fingered as the primary cause (opening sentence) so early in the article, when there appears to be significant debate and disagreement as to what the cause of income inequality truly is (evidenced by the intense debate within the body of the article)? As the article stands now, we have not yet been given a definition of what the term "income inequality" is ... and yet, someone is already establishing what the cause is? To the reader, this appears to be an indication of bias (propaganda) right from the start. Wouldn't it make more sense to wait to make such an assertion until the "Causes" section? Same point goes for the "Causes" section itself, where we are almost immediately spoon-fed Krugman's opinions as to the causes before they are even discussed. It's like, "Why bother reading the rest of this section, here is Paul Krugman's opinion." That's been the overall problem I have had with the article from day-one ... there is a preponderance of judgement from beginning to end, often before an issue is clearly defined or discussed. Last item ... throughout the article, the term "Top 1 Percent" is used liberally (twenty-nine times) with the express purpose of separating "winners" from "losers" in the discussion. But the fact is, the majority (more than half) of the "Top 1 Percent" have also suffered financial losses, along with the rest of the 99 percent. There is a need (on the part of some partisan people) to maintain the "99 percent vs. the 1 percent" narrative. However, it seems that a key point, the concentration of wealth is really occurring among only the top .1 percent is not stated explicitly enough (one passing sentence). Its a fine point, but an important (and factual) one. Appreciate the help.Tolinjr (talk) 05:08, 12 November 2014 (UTC)


Just as I was finishing my response to Arthur Rubin, an anonymous message appeared on my personal user page ... it said:

I would like to congratulate you for your work and effort on the income inequality article.  
It is not often that us free enterprise types 
have a voice on the front lines against collectivism.  
For that, I give you my heartfelt appreciation. (talk) 01:22, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

I cannot tell you how great this made me feel!  Working as a Wikipedia editor under these conditions is very much like mental warfare. It is exhausting and frustrating to know that every morning (after I respond to one hardcore leftist the night before) there will be another challenge from another one right behind him.

I had done what I could for the article.  I had responded to virtually all of the issues that needed to be addressed.  I was not successful in getting 'capitalism' as the primary blame for income inequality removed from the opening sentence. Still, I believe that I significantly improved the article by providing a balancing context to it.

As I reviewed the article one more time, I could see that the steady drip of editor erosion to my inputs had already begun.  In some cases, whole sections removed.  In others, major points were whittled down to meaningless pap.  However, nearly sixty percent of my edits had survived, including a major subsection on 'corporatism'. 

It remains to be seen if any of it will survive the ravages of time ... and the consensus (i.e. political bias) of the majority of Wikipedia editors ...

UPDATE (November 15, 2014):  The article has been restructured, and in the process, nearly all of the counter-point arguments I inserted were omitted.  The only remaining pieces are sections on corporatism and capital gains taxes.  The article is now approaching its original state (as it was prior to my involvement).  I predicted that this would happen in discussions with other editors and during mediation. The drip of erosion continues.

UPDATE: (January 16, 2015):  The end result of the latest article re-write is that it was completely stripped of balanced input and has returned to being a piece of one-sided political propaganda. This is precisely what I was lamenting during Wikipedia mediation ... that an onslaught of activist input would eventually overwhelm anything approaching balance or fairness, simply because liberals and leftists dominate the ranks of editorship. Sadly, Wikipedia management shows no interest in addressing this problem, mainly because they share the same point of view as the vast majority of editors. 

UPDATE: (January 21, 2015):   After a series of very animated discussions with several Wikipedia senior editors and administrators regarding the issue of bias, an editor deleted my personal user page (a blatant violation of Wikipedia policy) on the basis that it was 'polemic'. Other (Wiki-like-minded) editors continue to freely post antagonistic political rhetoric on their user pages, however.

Then I received a post on my "Talk" page from a very senior Wikipedia mediator (who posted the message to me anonymously) ... "If it's any comfort, your comments on this whole area, on another user's page, and on the relevant Article's talk page have served to raise at least one Wikipedia's users (i.e. mine) awareness of the systemic bias at play, so your work hasn't been in vain. While I'm here, a comment on one aspect of the blog post. In it you show some graphics of one particular user's own WP page, the affiliations (socialist, anti-consumerist, etc) there being quite telling, especially for someone involved in writing an ostensibly balanced economics article.  What's interesting is how that user's page has changed, with some of the potentially more damning affiliations having been removed. I wonder if that was a result of your prodding. The change according to the user's talk page history, occurred towards the latter months of last year, which I suspect is when you were banging your head off that particular wall.  I think your fundamental problem is that you still care about Wikipedia, still harbor a hope that it could be what it was originally meant to be, and have a genuine concern for other readers and want them to receive balanced information. Drop that care, forget that hope, and realize that it is increasingly the domain of zealots of one form or another increasingly known as such by everyone else, and things will look a whole lot better.  Illegitimi non carborundum. Best wishes."

So there it is, laid bare, by a senior Wikipedia administrator, no less.


Fortunately, news media articles are beginning to reveal the toxic internal atmosphere that persists at Wikipedia, and hopefully corrections will be made ... 

So ... what was it that a Wikipedia editor found so objectionable and polemic that he deleted my user page?  My user page consisted of -- a short paragraph articulating my personal experience at the site, a link to this blog, and the following recommendations ...


I have a number of recommendations for Wikipedia, if they desire to be a respected and neutral information resource: 

First, you need to clearly understand how socio-politically monolithic your editors really are. You can start by tracking the selection of your userboxes by your editors. I believe that this simple action will enable you to gain a better understanding of the philosophy of your demographic (it might also help to have one or two pro-business/entrepreneur userboxes too). 

Second, you must accept and address the fact that the majority of your socio-economic and political articles are being policed not only by paid political operatives, but also loosely-associated activists, who cling together to repel any editor input that is seen as a threat to their narrative.

Third, the concept of 'editor consensus' that is the operational cornerstone of your site is horrendously flawed.  It may seemingly create a more peaceful editing environment, but the downside of consensus is that it devolves into group-think and hive-mind behavior. It also snuffs-out alternative or contrary perspectives and it leads to frustration, vandalism, and constant edit-warring. Ultimately, those with a different world-view are perniciously rejected ... and ejected (such as my case)... from the process, which further solidifies your problematic singular mindset.   

Fourth, the mediation process, overlaid by your consensus requirements, is completely useless and should either be modified or removed. Mediation Rule: Prerequisite #5 (Acceptance by a majority of parties) makes it practically impossible for alternative input to survive if challenged editors can shut down mediation by simply opting out of the process, with the net result being that their 'defended' work still stands. Considering this, why would any editor ever accept mediation? 

Fifth, all of the above four issues revolve around the same problem ... the vast majority of your editors are significantly skewed to the left ... philosophically, socially, and politically.  One of the stated goals of Wikipedia is to be 'neutral' and impartial in the presentation of its subject-matter, yet how can this be achieved if its editorship composition, promoted by its consensus and mediation practices, protects a singular world-view? If it truly believes in those stated goals, Wikipedia must make a proactive decision to engage, involve (and at times protect) a broader spectrum of editors.  Wikipedia needs to actively facilitate their input, particularly when it comes to contentious topics. This can be achieved by involving Wikipedia administrators (and/or senior editor volunteers) who are sensitive to the issue and more representative of a broader perspective. Their involvement could provide balance in conflict situations such as mine. 

The worst feeling in the world as a Wiki-editor is fighting an onslaught of editors who do not share your opinion, while those who support you anonymously cower in the dark and helplessly watch you take the beating from a distance out of fear of similar intimidation or retribution. 

Wikipedia Editor: Tolinjr      

(All discussion threads used in this article are exact word for word transcripts, still publicly viewable in Wikipedia discussion archives. The only items changed were the occasional removal of technical IP addresses and time stamps, for the purpose of making the material easier to read ... and a few spelling and grammatical corrections.)