OF UNICORNS & INCOME INEQUALITY: “Income inequality” is fast becoming the unicorn of the 2016 presidential campaign– a mythical creature that has captured the hearts and minds of the political left and a good number of independents.
Hillary Clinton has signaled it’s going to be the centerpiece of her presidential bid. She recently complained about CEO pay being “300 times what the average worker makes.” But the more accurate figure is that the average CEO makes only about four times the wages of the average worker (not 300). And let’s face it, folks: The average business owner/CEO often invests personal funds, mortgages personal assets, and puts in hours far in excess of the “average” worker.
Liberals/progressives tout income inequality as “America’s biggest problem.” Self-described socialist-democrat Rep. Bernie Sanders (who caucuses, unsurprisingly, with the Democrats) is pushing Hillary even further left, threatening to challenge her and asserting that his campaign would be built around an argument for “fundamental changes in the way we do business in the United States of America in terms of income inequality.”
The problem with all of this is that there is zero evidence that higher incomes for the top X percent of Americans causes a rise in poverty rates. If the rich get richer, in other words, the poor don’t get poorer. Indeed, the population of America’s poor has remained steady at 15% since the advent of the “Great Society” programs. The “war on poverty” is an income-sucking hamster wheel, getting us nowhere.
The income inequality “problem,” is merely a Marxist cry for income redistribution— i.e., theft of the earnings of one segment of society (mostly middle income) to subsidize another segment of society that wants a slice of someone else’s pie. But the top 20% of income earners in the U.S. already pay 84% of all income taxes. The bottom fifth pays zero– and, in fact, gets a 2.2% income bonus, paid for by the rest of society. So any arguments about the rich not paying their “fair share” for the costs of our swollen government are ludicrous.
What we need is re-invigoration of the belief in the American dream–that any child can, with hard work and intelligence, improve his lot and achieve greatness. And the data supports that this is still true. One would think that someone with President Obama’s biography would have ardently touted this optimistic truth. Off all the current GOP presidential candidates, Marco Rubio seems, at the moment, to embrace this optimism the most. I hope they all do, eventually.