Surprising answers to questions about inequality in America
By: George Noga – May 29, 2016
Even socialists agree inequality from newly created wealth (even massive wealth a la Gates and Jobs) is an unalloyed benefit to society because it is the best metric for how well an economy is innovating, becoming more productive and responding to the needs of all people. Inherited wealth is mostly dissipated in a few generations, heavily taxed and often used charitably. Last, if Social Security and Medicare benefits were capitalized and included in wealth measurements, inequality would plunge markedly. At the outset of this series, I promised to explore and to answer many questions about inequality in America based on facts and logic. Following are the answers.
It is nigh impossible to get an accurate picture of inequality of income due to deeply flawed statistics based on AGI and household income, inconsistencies between income cohorts and flawed comparisons that don’t track the same people over time. One conclusion is certain. Accurate data would show much less inequality of income. Progressives oppose disparity in pay between CEOs and workers but are okay with similar clefts for athletes and movie stars. Steve Jobs took a nearly bankrupt Apple and created $750 billion of value; he made $2 billion, or 0.27%; was he overpaid?
Data based on spending shows sharply less inequality; the lowest income cohort spends $2 for each $1 of income. There is no inequality based on taxation (including payroll taxes) as America has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. Nor would a $15 minimum wage reduce inequality; less than 1% earn the minimum and their average household income is $50,000. Young, poor, minorities and the unskilled are harmed by minimum wage laws. The truly poor need jobs not a higher minimum wage. Progressives claim a moral imperative to increase the minimum wage knowing aforehand it creates unemployment. Where is the morality in that?
The chasm between reality and rhetoric is wide. All measures of inequality, Gini, Theil and MLD, are markedly worse under Clinton compared to Reagan and under Obama versus Bush 43. Inequality is fueled by progressive policies including: (1) tepid economic growth; (2) higher taxation; (3) opposition to school choice; (4) energy policies; (5) ObamaCare; (6) opposition to trade; and (7) spending, debt and deficits. It is progressive dogma that creates inequality despite its self righteous rhetoric.
All metrics show less inequality in Europe; however, we must ask if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Many Europeans lead lives of quiet desperation with no economic mobility and a permanently moribund economy; they even refuse to reproduce or to defend themselves. Europe produces no innovations in electronics, software, drugs or even pop culture. The former USSR would have scored favorably on measures of inequality as does Botswana; where everyone is poor, there is no inequality. The Gini coefficient for happiness in America is the highest in the world; that says it all!
There are some things we should do to reduce inequality. Foremost is to stop corporate welfare as wealth created by government is illegitimate. Too big to fail needs to be eliminated as this is but another form of government largess. Capitalism must be based on both the carrot and the stick. Most Americans understand and accept inequality created by the marketplace; their beef is with government playing favorites.
At its beating heart, inequality is mostly an imaginary problem. The vapid dogma of progressivism is incapable of solving real problems; therefore, it creates a series of phony problems for political maskirovka. As demonstrated in this series, progressives have created the very inequality they now hypocritically rail against. In sum, inequality in America is not a serious problem except when created by government.
The next post June 5th entitled “Hurricane Warning” is particularly pithy.