The left repeatedly shrieks about income inequality in the same manner that a high school freshman declares himself an economist because he read a chapter of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose. When pressed on the specifics of these two words, you will typically receive some vapid platitude about the top 1% controlling most of the nation’s wealth and paying zero in taxes. This might impress a Marxist professor who wears padding on the elbows of his $650 blazer, but to anybody who knows better, this response will only encourage the listener to grab a bottle of bourbon and admire former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s portrait.
Iron Lady’s Sword of Truth
In November 1990, the prime minister addressed a Labor Party Member of Parliament who complained about the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 10% widening in her time as prime minister. Like today’s detested Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, the gentleman probably felt superior and benevolent for supposedly speaking truth to power.
But that game never worked on the Iron Lady.
In typical Thatcher fashion, she slew him with her sword of truth:
“All incomes are better off than they were but what the Honourable member is saying is that he will rather the poor were poorer provided the rich were less rich. That’s where you will never create the wealth for better social and water policy.”
If only she were around today to address a Democratic Socialist convention! These well-intentioned folks might not mean to, but they inadvertently advocate making the rich poorer instead of the poor richer.
It’s a Living
Like the mainstream media’s portrayal of the Ukraine transcripts, the press coverage over the recent US Census Bureau was misleading, to say the least. Obviously an attempt to show that middle-class households in President Donald Trump’s America have fared worse under his administration due to his public policies, the headlines made it appear like the only class of Americans who are getting ahead in the world’s largest economy are the affluent. This has been a common tactic for years.
The media concentrated on one figure: The median household had an annual income of $63,179 last year, a statistically insignificant uptick of just 0.9%, which had more to do with demographics than anything else. But reporters left out some other key factors, including non-family households that enjoyed a 2.4% boost in income and full-time female workers experiencing a 3.3% gain in earnings, which are statistically significant.
As Liberty Nation also recently reported, everyone is better off now than they were 50 years ago. For instance, 30.4% of US households earned $100,000 or more last year (an all-time high), up from 9.7% 50 years ago. Or, in 1968, 34% of US households earned $35,000 or less, but this figure plunged to about one-quarter in 2018 (a record low).
Nobody would ever dispute that the rich are getting richer. But here is the thing that is often omitted from the national conversation: So is everyone else.
Ask yourself these two questions: Would you rather be a poor person 50 years ago or today? Would you rather be poor in America or Portugal? All the data suggest that America’s impecunious are better off today than at any other time in the nation’s history and that they are better off than other people in different countries.
Occupy Wall Street provided us a treasure trove of obnoxious and comical moments that shall never be forgotten by anyone who lived through this disappointment. Shantytowns, socialists finally getting some sunshine, communists using the free-enterprise system to sell hammer and sickle memorabilia, and anti-capitalists using their iPhones and drinking their Starbucks coffees – this was the norm.
But there was one vacuous buzzword that spawned from this meaningless movement: The 1%. It made unemployed kids wearing toques in the middle of summer appear smarter than they actually were.
In the aftermath of the international demonstrations, anyone left of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) would shriek on cable news and grieve in newspapers about the rich getting richer and everyone else on the brink of destitution. The proposed solution was as expected as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau donning blackface and brownface: wealth confiscation.
Now that the left has sifted through the data and realized that if you earn just $32,000 a year that you would be in the global 1%, progressives have adopted a new term: The top 0.1%. But even this does not pass muster because 0.1%, at least from a domestic standpoint, equates to a yearly income of $1.5 million, which would make Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and a few other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates hover around that figure.
If they ever included themselves in the discussion, then the question to ask is: When are you writing a check?
Critics of free-market capitalism usually allude to a zero-sum game. Under this theory, somebody wins and somebody loses; or someone can only get ahead at the expense of other people. Perhaps this specious reasoning is used as justification for policy proposals born out of envy and loathing. As seen elsewhere around the world, everyone gains in a market economy, even the politicians who want to pretend to be fairy godmothers by handing out free stuff. The goodies offered by the state can only be paid for in a capitalist economy because, as Thatcher famously said, in socialism, you eventually run out of other people’s money.
For all the criticisms lodged at the Land of the Free, America’s haters should find out why people come from all over the world to attain the American Dream. If it were a country of 320 million divided between the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor, as well as headed by the Ku Klux Klan, then why would people from every corner of the globe try to enter the US – legally and illegally?
Besides, if you really wanted to be serious about income inequality, then the Federal Reserve should be a subject of conversation. The US central bank routinely tilts the playing field in favor of those who are closest to the spigot through monetary easing. Yet, you will not hear a single word about the Eccles Building emanating from the megaphones of anyone handwringing about income inequality.