I can’t take it anymore.
For months now, our political representatives and major media outlets have been going on an on about something called “income inequality.” It’s terrible, they tell us, and responsible for much of what’s wrong in Western society today. So we’d better do something to end it, soon.
Now, unless I’m misreading the phrase, income inequality means simply that people have different incomes. Um… duh.
But President Obama tells us income inequality is the defining challenge of our time. Former labor secretary Robert Reich (an economist who should know better) argues income inequality is the real reason for our terrible economy.
And in the most despicable of these public statements, Hillary Clinton actually calls it a cancer.
I beg your pardon, Madam Secretary? Cancer?
What does any right-thinking person want to do with cancer? Adjust it? Weaken it a bit? No. They want to destroy it, annihilate it, kill every last diseased cell.
Okay, and how exactly would we destroy, annihilate and kill the income-inequality cancer? By replacing it with income equality? As the kids would say: WTF?
Let’s think about this.
As radio host Dennis Prager points out, there are indeed places around the world where incomes are more or less equal among the populace. So we can actually view how income equality plays out in a real society. Know where those places are? North Korea. Cuba. Or any of the wonderfully prosperous Communist paradises throughout history where a good percentage of the citizenry has lived pretty close to starvation.
But back to income inequality.
Let’s say you make $80,000 a year and your boss makes $160,000 and your organization’s chief executive makes $1,000,000 a year. That’s a pretty big set of inequalities. But does the fact that your boss earns twice your salary harm you? Does your CEO’s $1,000,000 harm your boss, or you?
Put another way: Let’s say you had two choices. Increase your own pay by $25,000 a year or reduce your boss’s salary by $80,000. Reducing your boss’s pay would decrease the “income inequality” cancer a lot more than raising your own salary. But would you really choose that option? Would any of these loudmouths screaming about income inequality want their own incomes to go down, to help close the income gap?
Or put still another way: Imagine your income goes up. Yay! But your CEO’s goes up too — and a lot more. That actually increases the total income inequality at your organization. But does it hurt you? Or are both you and your CEO better off?
What I’m saying is that from whichever angle you examine the phrase income inequality, the arguments against it fall apart instantly. Worse, the “cures” for it are horrific.
Let’s say Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Robert Reich, The New York Times and all of the other influential progressives get their way, and we’re able to fix income inequality. What would that mean? That an entrepreneur about to max out his credit cards to develop an important new product will be limited by federal law to a new mandated annual income? That the surgeon who someday will save your life on the operating table won’t be allowed to earn more than 10% above the nation’s median salary? Would you bet your life that this surgeon will stick around under those circumstances? Actually, you are betting your life.
Do you think that by enforcing “income equality”— as our politicians are telling us in no uncertain terms they wish they could do — we’ll have as many entrepreneurs, innovations, new products, doctors? Or will we have a lot less?
And do you want to live in a society like that? Or do you want the risk-takers who bring us new products and services rewarded for their innovations? Won’t that encourage more people to innovate — and improve the quality of our lives?
Can you explain to us, Madam Secretary, exactly what your cure would be for this particular cancer? The cancer that I prefer to call “economic freedom?”
Hillary Clinton is a lot things that I am not fond of. But stupid isn’t one of them. She’s methodical and calculating in her public comments. She chooses her words carefully.
So why choose cancer to describe the simple economic reality that a surgeon earns more than the person who delivers packages to the surgeon’s hospital?
There’s only one reason: It’s a cynical attempt to turn you against me, your supervisor against his supervisor, entire organizations against their senior executives, and everybody against “the rich.”
When stripped of all political implication, the phrase income inequality means nothing more than the obvious fact that in a free-market economy people earn different amounts of money based on how much value society places on their skills, expertise and labor.
But people like Hillary Clinton don’t want such words stripped of their political implications. They want such words loaded with political implications, especially if those implications can create confusion, then resentments and ultimately politically exploitable divisions.
Words matter. Shame on all of you public figures who intentionally misuse them for your own agendas.