culture free market

Income inequality again

A friend of mine posted a link to a NYT opinion page entitled “Our banana republic,” and in it the author says:

Our Banana Republic – “In my reporting, I regularly travel to banana republics notorious for their inequality. In some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie. But guess what? You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home”


Did you see what he did there? There are plutocracies that have big income disparities, we have big income disparities, therefore the rich here are just as bad as the rich there. True, he doesn’t come out and say it, but it is a clear inference he wants readers to make.

Now if he had gone on to explain how our government is funneling taxpayer money into the pockets of our top 1% and that these thieves should be brought to justice, I’d be sympathetic but skeptical. I do think that happens, and I do think those folks and the politicians that enable it should be held accountable, but I don’t think it’s as widespread as it is in those plutocracies. I am interested in hearing any evidence about that though…

No, the author didn’t make that argument. What he did was to point out the recent income disparity here in the US, infer that the people making a ton of money are somehow bad people, and then bring up “evidence” that when some people get rich, the people below them wreck themselves trying to catch up and suffer higher divorce rates. Seriously, he essentially says that the people not making as much in the top 1% mess themselves up, and the rich are to blame. I’m assuming that the author’s solution is to narrow the discrepancy to avoid those bad things. I’m also assuming his suggested cure is to either take the money away or prevent people from making that much money to begin with.

It reeks of the worst social engineering hubris I can imagine. Some people do not cope well when they see others doing better than them and so we are morally justified to take money away from folks because some others don’t like it. Give me a break. Taking money from people should be the last option, not the first. I’ve covered this ground before but I’ll say it again, just because some people make (much) more money than others does not mean there is a problem. If, like those plutocracies, the top 1% is actually stealing from everyone else, then fine, let’s go get the rich. Well how else are they getting that rich Isaac? Glad you asked, another blog post to follow…

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