In my view, freedom, not consumption, is the central distinction between rich and poor. It is odd that I should argue this point with libertarian Wilkinson.
I guess that I am somehow missing his point or else fundamentally misunderstanding what the word freedom means.
In the United States at least, we are all free to vote, speak, practice (or not practice) our religion, etc. etc. We are not all free to send our kids to expensive schools, but that's consumption. We are not all free to travel to other countries, but that's consumption.
Interfluidity only gives one concrete example, which throws me for another loop:
Indebtedness also entails a cost in freedom that we miss if we focus on consumption.
I think that, if anything, this is backwards. Having little to no collateral, the poor are not "free" to borrow money. The ability to take on debt is liberating. However, I would still argue that this shows up mainly in consumption.
I guess I could agree with a statement like "the poor are not free to smooth their consumption stream", but I'd still be quite conflicted about how exactly that is freedom.
I was bothering Mrs. Angus about this (she thinks I'm at least partly wrong, which means I probably am, but I honestly can't see it), and she brought up differences in life expectancy across identifiable groups, but again to me, that is an exceedingly tenuous use of the concept of freedom. Men are not free to live as long as women? (NB: that was NOT the example that Mrs. Angus used).
In Hansonian terms, I must recognize that Interfluidity, Mrs. Angus and Sen are all smart people, so I'm probably somehow wrong, but to me, freedom is nowhere near the central difference between the rich and the poor, at least not in the USA.
I have to go with Hemingway here people: The main difference between the rich and poor is that the rich have more money!
Does anyone want to go Kristofferson here: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".