Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Inequality Obsession

I think it could be argued that at least one element that is contributing to the divisiveness in Washington are various answers to questions of inequality. This word – “inequality” – has been ubiquitous in our public discourse lately, its usage likely catalyzed by movements such as “Occupy Wall Street.” Discussions of inequality have profound implications for issues such as spending and taxing, which are of course the core issues contributing to gridlock. But why this obsession with inequality?
This article in the WSJ by Holman Jenkins asks whether policy proposals to reduce inequality are driven by motives to increase the quality of living for the majority, or rather to simply penalize people for being rich. He even argues that the growing inequality gap may be a distortion of statistics.
In short, he thinks reducing inequality is the political cause de jour but he questions the wisdom of the policy solutions offered, as well as the problem itself.

Excerpt: “Income inequality could be a sign of real pathology in authoritarian societies where entrenched groups use government-granted privileges to protect themselves from competition. By and large, that's not the case in the U.S., where most see the market actually increasing the competitive advantages of the educated, skilled, hardworking and talented.

1 comment:

  1. When reading this post two things came to mind.

    First I believe the focus on inequality in today's political rhetoric is a response by politicians to the high levels of discontent among the majority of voters. People are experiencing hard economic times and their call for answers has driven politicians to the most simple and easily explainable cause, inequality.

    Second, while I do believe that this focus on inequality can cause gridlock within our present system, I wonder whether this is indicative of some of the major issues with it. If these instances of inequality within our democratic system affect the vast majority of our citizens then it necessarily shouldn't cause extreme gridlock, as the "penalized" rich only represents an extreme minority. Thus the gridlock we witness further evidences an inequality of voice within our system as an extreme 1% minority has managed to leverage as much influence as the 99% who feel they have been given unequal opportunity.