“Income Inequality”

Everyone who is infatuated with this new buzzphrase should read this.

If I’m reading this report correctly (and if the reporter has interpreted the data correctly), fully 20 percent of Americans are, for some portion of their working lives, in the top two percent of income earners in America.  This fact strikes me as strong evidence against the proposition that Americans are not very economically mobile.

Four other things to note.  First, note the kinds of people who are most likely to be among the “new rich”: they’re married and educated.

Second, note some of the strange conclusions drawn by the reporter (and the caption writer).  For example, in the caption we read that the success of the “new rich” makes them “the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality.”  This claim refers to the fact that the “new rich” are less likely than are many other groups to support massive government schemes of ‘redistribution.’  But, my gosh, these people (the “new rich”) are themselves, each and everyone of them, personally working at – and succeeding at – reducing income inequality.  They work hard and are responsible; therefore, they enjoy larger monetary rewards than they’d get were they less hard-working and less responsible.  Through their personal efforts and responsible behaviors they reduce the differences that separate the sizes of their incomes from those of the super-rich.  Far from being the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality, such people are proving that income inequality is neither as great nor as insurmountable and stifling as “Progressives” would have us think.

Third, the last sentence quoted above from the report is (albeit unintentionally), taken in the context of the whole report, further evidence that, if the middle-class in America is disappearing, it’s chiefly because more and more Americans are becoming rich.  By “hollowing out” the middle (as conventionally classified), the economic distance between “the poor” and “the (greater numbers of) rich” might appear to be larger, if only because many once-middle-income Americans are now rich Americans.  But surely such “hollowing out” is to be celebrated rather than lamented.

Fourth and finally, note the Mr. James Lott in the photo – one of the “new rich.”  He’s the son of Nigerian immigrants.  He obviously works hard and acts responsibly.  He doesn’t moan about what he doesn’t have, and he didn’t sit around envying other people and hoping and waiting for the government to give him someone else’s money in order to make his income more on par with that of “the rich.” I don’t know anything about Mr. Lott beyond what is reported here by the AP, but he certainly seems to be a testament to the proposition that if you work hard and act responsibly in America, you can still succeed regardless of your starting circumstance.  (Oh, and note also that Mr. Lott is a pharmacist working for, and being paid handsomely by – wait for it! – Wal-Mart!)

(Originally posted on What if?)