“Income Inequality” is big tonight; Fox’ Bill O’Reilly opined on it in response to both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton pushing it; voters, over 60% of those polled, seem in agreement. Therefore, a big deal in the 2016 elections.
So first, what does it actually mean? Sanders and Clinton huff about stratospheric CEO salaries while somehow failing to notice NFL quarterbacks and movie actors. Oh, and especially failing to notice politicians who tend these days to be millionaires after but not before elections. (It used to be the other way around, right?)
It is probably one of the attractions of the idea that it isn’t defined. That way, you can wield it without fear of having to deal with reality and it sounds good if you don’t get analytical. Public school grads aren’t equipped to be very analytical, anyway. And CEO salaries are a fat target; millions per year when most folk earn less, many a lot less, than $100,000. The 2015 poverty guide set $11,250 for one person and $24,750 for a household of four as the poverty income borders. The median per capita income was a bit over $28,000. Those are a lot of targets at which to wave multi-million CEO salaries.
But still, what does “income inequality” mean? That a brain surgeon should earn the same income as the window washer? That’s ridiculous. So we still can’t say exactly what it means.
One theory says it means that no one should be forced to live below a certain minimum standard and that those earning more, should fund whatever it takes to maintain that minimum. Say we decide that no one should have to live on less than $35,000 a year, the ‘rich’ being taxed to assure that the funds are available. But that raises more questions:
1, Who decides these things? If it is the politicians, will the decisions not be political, as all else that they do?
2. Will politicians tax themselves along with others of ‘the rich’ to pay for this? (That has not been their pattern, has it?)
3.What happens if ‘the rich’ don’t produce enough money to cover the cost?
4. If much that they earn is taxed away, will ‘the rich’ continue making the extraordinary efforts that have earned them extraordinary incomes?
5. If they are “entitled” to adequate incomes regardless of their own efforts and skills, will the equalized beneficiaries do anything useful to society?
So far, remedies for “income inequality” don’t seem promising in the real world after an election. But we wonder whether that really matters.
If “Income Inequality” is only an election scam, it only matters until somebody is elected, after which it can disappear with the other election scams. At least, until the next election …
Meantime, we suggest demanding a definition of both what it means in hard facts, and what are the details of any proposed remedy. “Trust Me” doesn’t have a very good vibe, coming from politicians …