Income Inequality And Other Vacuous Notions
Critics of income disparity, wider now than at any time since 1928, most often decry it in moral terms. Both the poor and the rich are said to be “undeserving” – the poor of their less than modest circumstances and the rich of their opulence. We’re told that the poor deserve – are entitled, have the right – not to be poor. The rich remain merely undeserving – not worthy – of their lavish existence. They have no entitlement.
Income disparity is also called income “inequality”. Equality and inequality are legal terms of art. The latter has also become, thanks to our disgraceful history of race discrimination, one of the great emotional trigger words in the national conscience. It is a much more damning indictment than mere entitlement denied or riches unwarranted.
When politicians use the word inequality they mean it to be a showstopper, an argument ender, a crushing blow to the opposition. No supporting rationale is required. Clichés, such as, “the decent thing to do”, are justification enough. No thought need be given to contrary positions. All minds should be focused, instead, on remediating the unfairness at hand, which, of course, means government intervention and control.
This tact works too often. After all, who wants to waive the rah-rah flag for indecency? Income inequality decision points become the definition of “poor” and “rich” and how to balance the scale. What amount of money must be transferred from the latter to the former to create equality? Is the goal actually income equality? What about simply the rule of communism – from each according to his ability to each according to his needs?
Hold it right there. The trigger strategy, befogging as it is, should fail even in the absence of thought because there is no such thing as income inequality. Why? There’s no such thing as entitlement to a specific income level. The entitlement is to the opportunity to earn more than you have. But nothing gives you the right to take from someone else because he or she has it and you don’t.
Consider the consequences of applying the income equality thesis in other contexts. Take vacations. The President and his family probably enjoy more luxury vacations than any other family on earth. Several have been to the Hawaiian Islands. If Obama were truly concerned about equal circumstances, he would stay with his half-sister while in paradise. After all, bunking with relatives is what us poorer people do. But, he prefers to luxuriate in richer environments. Not exactly the equality he has in mind for the rest of us.
How about shoe inequality? Most likely, Michelle Obama has more shoes and more expensive shoes than the bulk of people on the planet. One thing is for sure. She doesn’t seem too concerned about the unequal shoe plight of the poor. After all, she did wear those $540 “tennis” shoes to a soup kitchen. And she kept that pricey footwear on her own two feet. No sharing there.
In fairness, perhaps the First Lady was going for a conspicuous show of wealth to demonstrate income inequality more clearly. We know how impactful visual aides can be, especially of stark contrasts.
Then there’s weight inequality. Skinny people are so unfair. Shall we make them obese like a growing number of the rest of us? How about taxing them instead? The tax thing works on three levels. First, it’s a natural for the government.
Second, the skinny make the fat feel badly about themselves and that’s no good. Fat we can have but not negative self-images. So, here’s the skinny – punish them. Third, because fat people are the heaviest burden on the healthcare system, we need all the revenue sources we can get to support the cost.
What’s the solution to intelligence inequality? With healthcare resources and costs being what they are, lobotomies for the smarties among us are out. Perhaps this inequality will be resolved as in the 2006 movie, Idiocracy. Intelligence will simply be bred out of the human species. We seem to have a good start on that right now.
That opportunity to succeed is more readily available to some than it is to others is a fact. But, it is also a fact that some people are taller, healthier, faster, stronger, quicker, brighter and just plain more talented than others. Good for them. They can succeed easier than their peers in many walks of life.
The rest of us simply have to be more motivated and work harder in the pursuit of success, however we define that term. If we aren’t willing to do that, someone else’s money won’t matter.