Economic Inequality

The US has done a lot of things that have correlated with economic inequality.  Let’s do more of them!  That seems to be the argument that Liam Moran is trying to make today as he adds to the Pope Francis discussion.  Amongst other things he notes:

Today the richest 1 percent of Americans control more than 40 percent of the nation’s financial wealth, while the bottom 80 percent control just 8.5 percent.

Since 2000, the federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, has lost value, while the average CEO salary has risen by nearly 300 percent.

So, we have two data points.  The first, inequality, has little or no impact on the poor.  The economy is not a zero sum game.  We need some number of rich to provide opportunities but a variety of outcomes will do.  If moving the statistics is important then privatizing social security would help.  The second point has inequality within the minimum wage argument.  Again, it is not a zero sum game.  More importantly, it is critically important not to take opportunities away from individuals by raising the minimum wage.

Then there is this:

The real danger of this logic is its nudge toward apathy. Shrugging passively at poverty depends on the supposition of its immutability, which conservatives like Ambrose attribute to unfortunate but endemic flaws among the poor themselves.

MWG cannot respond for Ambrose, but in general, conservatives are market driven with the dynamics that markets produce.  Conservatives support opportunity for all.  The conservative challenge is finding the right balance between incentives and support.  The left is not market driven and tends to support government solutions that have done little to ameliorate poverty in the US over the the past half century.  These solutions do provide some succor but seem most effective at keeping individuals in poverty.  We need to judge policies by what they do rather than how they make some of us feel.



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