Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Inequality



It's hard to have a conversation about this without sounding like a communiss, I realize. Most people, including me, agree that hard work and success and talent and commitment ought to be rewarded. Economic incentive is a powerful thing. I like money, and I wish I had more of it. (Mostly so I could give more of it to people in my family who need it.) I think the profit motive and capitalism are good things. But can there be too much of a good thing? If national wealth is sort of finite (for purposes of discussion) does it become a bad thing when it's only available to a few?

The problem with the video is that it doesn't attempt to explain why the post-Reagan reality of income distribution in our country is so perverse, and how it works against economic success in terms of the whole society. Nor does it offer any suggestions about how changes, assuming it's desirable, might come about. There are, of course, other sources for that conversation.

As I've said before, any change in the tax code is a form of wealth redistribution. It's a loaded term, suggesting rounding up rich people, reaching into their pockets, extracting money, and handing it willy-nilly to poor people standing there with their hands out. There needs to be a better term. "Tax fairness" comes to mind. So does "minimum wage."

Again, you can't bring these things up without raising Republican hackles. But you'd think they'd get it: their beloved job creators and "makers" won't be able to push product absent people willing and able to buy. If you make a little less per widget because you're providing a living wage and a couple of benefits to your workers, you can, in theory, more than make that up in an environment where more people have the means to buy your widgets. It's basic math, and not very high-order economics.

Sadly, and mystifyingly, the people most adversely affected by the current reality are the most reluctant to countenance ideas that might change things. Well, not those most adversely affected; the teabagging ones, fully Foxified into thinking we need more, not less, inequality, are the ones happily carrying the water for those making off with the booty, taking the future with them. It seems pretty intuitive that there's something really wrong with the picture.


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