Issues: Income Inequality (posted by John Willoughby October 12, 2014)

14 Oct

Michael Piketty’s Capital, based on the most exhaustive study of data available about wealth and income inequality in Europe and North America demonstrates a close correlation between income inequality and declining relative national wealth, with the United States currently declining somewhat more rapidly than Canada or the principal countries of Europe. (Rapidly developing countries and underdeveloped countries may in some cases have even more income inequality and perhaps not so rapidly declining wealth, but good data is often hard to obtain, and some countries are starting at such a low level of national wealth that a decline is unlikely and significant growth can be expected.

The Republican party nationwide (and particularly so in Kansas) has been flirting again with Leffler’s discredited ideology of trickle-down “economics” and its slogan that “a rising tide raises all boats,” a truism in regard to oceanography and boats, but totally inapplicable to economics. Leffler’s theory was quietly repudiated by Reagan in his second term and even by right-wing economist Milton Friedman after the rapid increase in national wealth following Clinton’s tax increases. Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but government cannot operate without income.

The economic reasons for reducing income inequality are compelling. The ethical and moral reasons are even more important. The United States was founded on the basis that all people are created equal and should have equal opportunity to achieve success. At present, educational opportunities are inequal: the poor have less access to education, particularly at the preschool level, and, without a good educational foundation, the poor are less likely to achieve their potential. It is wrong for the wealthy to have better educational opportunities than the poor. And the same goes for access to health services, access to social services, access to financial services, and access to support from business and political leaders. It is wrong for the wealthy to have better access to government and private support services than the poor

At present, the Republican leadership in Kansas is totally blind to the needs of the poor, kowtowing to the wishes of the rich. The poor are being locked into a situation where they can feel stuck in a second-class status, where it is increasingly difficult for them to move into a middle-class status, where they are being encouraged to accept a culture of dependency, angry at their lack of opportunity, in some cases concluding that criminal activity is the only way they can hope to advance.

This is unacceptable, Kansas needs new leadership to reduce income inequality.


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