mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why all the concern over rising income inequality?

So I was working on someone's computer today at work (halp! I can't connect to the interweb!) and her officemate had NPR on. They were discussing rising income inequality, and saying that things are just the way they were before the new deal in terms of levels of income inequality, and that we may need another new deal to fix it.. because Paul Krugman says so.

Now, I don't have stats handy on income inequality. But let's accept that that it's rising. So what? The fact that the stat liberals want to focus on is that income inequality is rising suggests to me that other stats - like real purchase power, or actual income, are probably doing OK, or at least less bad. So instead the focus is on income inequality.

There is a great way to solve income inequality - it's called communism. Instead of having a society where you have a few rich people, you have a society where everyone is dirt poor. I'd rather have a few rich people, and some middle class and some poor people.

The fact is that there is probably no better time in history where poor people have it so good in terms of standard of living. I'm not referring here to the number of programs to help people, but rather the fact that even poor people in America today usually have food (if anything, too much food, when you look at obesity rates for the poor), clothing, and often TV, microwaves, and internet-enabled computers. For all the talk of the health care crisis, a poor person in the US has better access to heathcare than the robber barons of 100 years ago - there are amazing leaps in medical care made every day, and life spans have grown considerably.

One other quote I overheard on the NPR was someone commenting that a teacher and a CEO have roughly the same level of education, but CEO's make way more. Which probably illustrates that much of the skills CEO's have don't come from education, but rather from things like real-world experience, interpersonal and negotiating skills, and a willingness to take risks. Plus, when a company does badly, CEO's usually get shitcanned, while teachers who don't perform get to keep their jobs (thanks, teacher's union!). Now, my brother is a high-school teacher, and he's a smart guy, but I'm not sure that he would do well running a fortune-500 company. And degree-wise, I have the same level of education that he does, but I don't think I'm going to be running GM anytime soon.

I'm not concerned about income inequality. If I'm better off than I was before, should it matter if someone else is more better off than me? I'm no history expert, but I don't think things are anything like they were in the 1920's - the rich may be getting richer, but the poor (and middle class) are getting richer too - just not quite as rich as quickly. But they are still better off.


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