James Freeman on the WSJ’s Best Of The Web tries logic on the folks that want to try to reduce income inequality. Do read the whole thing. We think it is unlikely to work but it might help the voters make a better decision in the general election. He starts with an assertion:
Leftist politicians have been saying for years that a dramatic rise in wealth and income inequality is the central economic problem of our time.
We are not sure that those leftists care about the changes in income inequality. Our guess, and it is only a guess, is that they think there there are more folks that think they would benefit from eating the rich than there are folks that worry about being eaten. James hopes that an academic paper by Gerald Auten and David Splinter
Sidebar: Yes splinter is a bridge bid but we are not making this up. If we did, however, then Splinter would be one of the authors but Gerald would need a new name and Splinter a first. How does Diamond Splinter and Bergen Raises sound for the two authors? End Sidebar
will eliminate the premise to the argument. We don’t think that logic will stop folks from selling envy. Here is part of what James says about the new paper:
After a draft of the paper was released last year, Paul Solman of the PBS NewsHour of all places wrote:
You thought income inequality was rising dramatically, right? Well, so did I. In fact, maybe you thought so in part because I and journalists like me have been reporting it as fact, for decades. But maybe we’re wrong — all of us.Mr. Solman reported that the Auten-Splinter draft paper enjoys widespread respect in the economics profession—even if not everyone is willing to admit it. [Emphasis added]
We don’t like the of all places dig in bold. Our information is the the PBS NewsHour is only slightly left of center unlike the rest of PBS. But the second bold item is really damming to about the group-think of journalists. James tells us that the paper is well received even by those on the left.
We don’t see that Auten-Splinter have any impact on us and we doubt it will have leftist politicians James hopes to convince. It won’t have any impact on us because we care about growth much more than inequality. To be precise, at the current levels of inequality in the US we don’t care about it at all. We do want the growth fairy to come and visit. We think that the government has been far too worried about inequality and related issues and not worried enough about growth. An example of this is The Donald, whose administration has sometimes helped growth but his trade wars have not. No administration has emphasized growth enough. Growth should be a higher priority than it currently is.
The left doesn’t agree. They want to increase the emphasis on distribution. We don’t think they will be deterred by logic from James. They think envy sells and we are concerned that they might be right. Will a specious argument be enough?