Income

Income Inequality Is a Problem—When Caused by Government Meddling

Political-economic systems throughout the world are built on deeply rooted and long-established systems of privilege for the well-connected.

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incendiarymind/Foter

Income inequality is back in the news, propelled by an Oxfam International report and President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. The question is whether government needs to do something about this—or whether government needs to undo many things.

Measuring income inequality is no simple thing, which is one source of disagreement between those who think inequality is a problem and those who think it isn't. But it is possible to cut through the underbrush and make some points clear.

We can identify two kinds of economic inequality, and let's keep this in mind as we contemplate what, if anything, government ought to do.

The first kind we might call market inequality. Individuals differ in many ways, including energy, ambition, and ingenuity. As a result, in a market-oriented economy some people will be better than others at satisfying consumers and will hence tend to make more money. The only way to prevent that is to interfere forcibly with the results of peaceful, positive-sum transactions in the marketplace. Since interference discourages the production of wealth, the equality fostered through violence will be an equality of impoverishment.

Is it better that people be equally poor or unequally affluent? This is the important question that political philosopher John Tomasi, author of Free Market Fairness, puts to his classes at Brown University. Would they prefer a society in which everyone has the same low income, or one in which incomes vary, perhaps widely, but the lowest incomes are higher than the equal income of the first society?

Which would you choose? Let's remember that it is entirely possible for the poorest in a society to become richer even as the gap between the richest and poorest grows. Imagine an accordion-like elevator that is rising as a whole while being stretched out, putting the floor further from the ceiling. Would such a society be objectionable? Why is the relative position of the poorest more important than their absolute position? Is concern about relative positions nothing more than envy?

We could argue about that all day, but a much more urgent subject is political-economic inequality. This is the inequality fostered through the political system. Since government's distinctive feature is its claimed authority to use force aggressively (as opposed to defensively), this second sort of inequality is produced by violence, which on its face should make it abhorrent.

Political-economic systems throughout the world, including ones typically thought to be market-oriented (or "capitalist"), such as in the United States, are in fact built on deeply rooted and long-established systems of privilege. Favors, which the rest of us must pay for one way or another, typically go to the well-connected, and prominent business executives have always been well represented in that group.

In the United States this has been true since the days of John Jacob Astor, the fur trader who had the ears of such influential politicians as James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. Government was little more than the executive committee of leading manufacturers, planters, and merchants (to risk opprobrium by paraphrasing Marx). As Adam Smith put it in The Wealth of Nations in 1776, "Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters."

While business interests today are not the only ones that get consideration in the halls of power, it's a mistake to think they do not retain major influence over government in economic and financial matters. "Regulatory capture" is a well-known phenomenon, and ostensible efforts to limit it always fail.

Unlike market inequality, political-economic inequality is unjust and should be eliminated.

How? By abolishing all direct and indirect subsidies; artificial scarcities, such as those created by so-called intellectual property; regulations, which inevitably burden smaller and yet-to-be-launched firms more than lawyered-up big businesses; eminent domain; and permit requirements, zoning, and occupational licensing, which all exclude competition. These interventions and more protect incumbent firms from conditions that would lower prices to consumers, create self-employment and worker-ownership opportunities, and improve bargaining conditions for wage labor.

Instead of symbolically tweaking the tax code to appear to be addressing inequality—the politicians' charade—political-economic inequality should be ended by repealing all privileges right now.

This column originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

NEXT: Four Ways Obama can Help the Middle Class Without Raising Taxes

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  1. When will people realize the single biggest cause of income inequality is the government. There is no “right amount” of government intervention. Government needs to be abolished completely!

    1. However unjust income inequality may be (which it’s not) I have no earthly idea how it could be more unjust than sicking an institution with the right to extort, steal, kidnap and murder with impunity onto another human being for the crime of being the target of your envy.

    2. You are right about the cause of inequality, but unfortunately most people are grubers. Even so, what you want is anarchy. We need some government to implement contract law and manage disputes, but not much more. But in reality, none of that is ever going to happen.

  2. Even while I agree with this, I always end a Richman article thinking he’ll order us all to charge the Bastille or overthrow the petit bourgeois in proletariat revolution, such is the stridency of the rhetoric.

    1. Really? I always get more of an arm-chair philosopher feel from him. You can’t storm the Bastille in slippers.

      1. Eh, six in one hand, a half-dozen in another. Not like Marx was exactly a man of action type, either.

        This paragraph reads like some Bizarro version of the Communist manifesto.

        How? By abolishing all direct and indirect subsidies; artificial scarcities, such as those created by so-called intellectual property; regulations, which inevitably burden smaller and yet-to-be-launched firms more than lawyered-up big businesses; eminent domain; and permit requirements, zoning, and occupational licensing, which all exclude competition[…] Instead of symbolically tweaking the tax code to appear to be addressing inequality?the politicians’ charade?political-economic inequality should be ended by repealing all privileges right now.

        I suspect the armchair philosophy stuff is what happens when Sheldon goes to Denver to celebrate libertarian drug policy.

        1. so-called intellectual property

          So Sheldon doesn’t think that artists and writers and musicians deserve to get paid for their work?

          1. Walt Disney’s been dead for more than half a century.

          2. Apparently he also doesn’t think the scientist or company who discovers the chemical formula for a drug to treat cancer should get paid for that.

            I get the impression that he thinks the issue of patent reform is a self-evident one-sided issue: do away with patents. Outside of that fantasy-land, there are clearly two ends to be worried about. Yes, if intellectual property is held eternally sacred an inviolable, it becomes intolerably stifling to economic and intellectual freedom. On the other end, if originators are denied ownership altogether and all intellectual property is automatically public, then there’s no incentive to create more of it, and we all suffer, certainly when there’s no more incentive to invent new medicines.

            I think perhaps instead it should be made so that anyone can use anyone else’s intellectual property without risk of criminal or civil punishment, but use of others’ intellectual property comes at some kind of market-determined price. I recognize that that’s kind of contradictory, as it’s not a market price if the seller is basically forced to sell it. Haven’t quite sorted out how it would work yet.

            1. To do IP “properly”, you’d have to have automatic licensing and royalty payment. Not even one in a million patents is for anything completely new; they all depend on other patents. How do you propose to standardize that shit?

              If I dig a ditch which drains runoff from a road, do I get royalties?

              If I clear said ditch and did get royalties, would I have to pay royalties to the guy who dug the ditch?

              How many lawyers and accountants do you want involved in all this crap?

            2. Prior to recognized patents, you had trade secrets that stayed in the family for generations and were eventually lost.

              Nobody can still recreate violins from the golden age where those from Stradivarius came from and we don’t know why.

          3. It would be terribly unfair if Disney couldn’t trademark Seal Team Six, and profit off their operations.

          4. No one’s argument against copyrights/patents is that people shouldn’t be able to make money off of their work.

          5. Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

  3. Instead of symbolically tweaking the tax code to appear to be addressing inequality?the politicians’ charade?political-economic inequality should be ended by repealing all privileges right now.

    Which requires ending the state altogether.

  4. Instead of symbolically tweaking the tax code to appear to be addressing inequality ? the politicians’ charade ? political-economic inequality should be ended by repealing all privileges right now.

    Actually the politicians are not only making a dog and pony show to keep the current privilege-driven system intact, but are also encouraging intellectuals, journalists and opinion-makers to conflate the market-driven system with the privilege-driven system in order to blame the market for the privileges and thus get the government off the picture.

    1. Seems to be working for them. Let’s all eat cereal out of the bathtub. That can be Michelle’s new exclamation – Let them eat cereal.

  5. Regular people get their income through wages and/or transfer payments. That’s all they got. The very wealthy get income through more avenues including inheritance and capital gains. You can’t guarantee stable and growing wages or full employment in a free market.

    This question:

    Would they prefer a society in which everyone has the same low income, or one in which incomes vary, perhaps widely, but the lowest incomes are higher than the equal income of the first society?

    obviously leaves out some options. It is actually probably impossible for the lowest wages in a free market to be higher than an egalitarian system, since the lowest wages would be zero. You don’t just get to assume libertopian unicorns. Why do you think you get to do that? Do you really think that strengthens the case?

    And are you really baffled when people think your role in life is to shit on poor people and shovel money to the already very wealthy, when your big goals in life are ending transfer payments and not taxing inheritance and capital gains?

    1. Re: Tony,

      Regular people get their income through wages and/or transfer payments. That’s all they got. The very wealthy get income through more avenues including inheritance and capital gains.

      And? This means nothing, only that some people make their money thorough wages and some people make their money through investments.

      You can’t guarantee stable and growing wages or full employment in a free market.

      Nobody can guarantee that.

      Please stop talking about economics. You’re not competent.

      And are you really baffled when people think your role in life is to shit on poor people

      I am baffled at how a seemingly intelligent person would entertain such a facile notion.

      1. “seemingly intelligent person” I think I see the source of your befuddlement.

    2. Regular people get their income through wages and/or transfer payments. That’s all they got. The very wealthy get income through more avenues including inheritance and capital gains.

      It takes about $100 to start investing in the stock market, Tony. That is less than a PS4, less than an iPhone 6, less than any number of items that are put on the Amazon.com daily deals page. It’s never been easier to invest in non-wage labor sources for one’s income. And last I checked, liberals like yourself are not rushing to make the inheritance process for normal people easy or effective.

      You can’t guarantee stable and growing wages or full employment in a free market.

      Or in a protected market. What’s your point?

      You don’t just get to assume libertopian unicorns.

      You, OTOH, get to assume just about any utopia you please and disavow real world results at will. Completely fair, I’m sure.

      are you really baffled when people think your role in life is to shit on poor people and shovel money to the already very wealthy

      No, Tony. We are quite aware of your schtick. “Baffled” doesn’t even come close to describing the feeling of seeing another nonsensical bit of buffoonery on this site that comes attached to the nom de blogge “Tony”.

    3. Tony:

      It is actually probably impossible for the lowest wages in a free market to be higher than an egalitarian system, since the lowest wages would be zero.

      not really. The lowest wage in any egalitarian system is 0. Or, does your magic, theoretical egalitarian system work for every crazy person living out under bridges, or wherever? Magic unicorns for thee, but not for me?

      1. I didn’t set up the absurdly described false choice, Mr. Richman did.

    4. The very wealthy get income through more avenues including inheritance and capital gains.

      And they certainly never spend this money or do anything otherwise productive with it.

      Why do you think you get to do that?

      Because our ideology is that of voluntarism. And yours is that of coercing me by using the government’s guns.

      and shovel money to the already very wealthy

      If you are referring to subsidies/corporate welfare, let me spell this out as clearly as possible (not that you will actually comprehend it): Libertarians are AGAINST the government dispensing tax dollars to private entities in the practice known as “subsidizing” and/or “corporate welfare”. (among other things)

      The end.

    5. You can’t guarantee stable and growing wages or full employment in a free market.

      Never has been a goal in the U.S.; never has been promised to anyone here in the Constitution or any other document.

      1. Well, all those libertarian free countries in Europe have figured it out.

        1. Remind me again what the unemplyment rate in Greece is again? 25%, How about socialist Spain? 23%? Well, France is at least as low as 11%, even if on the verge of fiscal collapse. EU on average is just over 10%.

          An what is it in the evil capitalist US? 5.8 %. Yeah, Europe is really got it made in the shade.

          1. You believe the US government unemployment statistics?

        2. Oh, you were being sarcastic. Nevermind then.

    6. Late for the party this evening, but I can’t pass this up

      Tony|1.22.15 @ 5:18PM|#
      “And are you really baffled when people think your role in life is to shit on poor people and shovel money to the already very wealthy, when your big goals in life are ending transfer payments and not taxing inheritance and capital gains?”

      Shithead, are you really baffled when people think you represent and apologize for mass murderers since your big goal in life is economic equality?

    7. What’s fucking hilarious is that darling of the democrats, Warren Buffett, has spent his life getting congress to make it harder and harder for normal people to pass on their inheritance so his company can swoop in and take their estates.

      Go fuck yourself.

    8. “It is actually probably impossible for the lowest wages in a free market to be higher than an egalitarian system, since the lowest wages would be zero.”

      Based on the context of the article I’m assuming that when you say “egalitarian”, you mean the elimination of all economic inequalities. This, of course, has never been done. But there are plenty of countries that have tried and have ended up with privileged political classes and, well, total poverty for everyone else.

      Anyway, you’re both wrong. A large portion of the people in an… egalitarian… system end up unemployed. So, the lowest wages in these systems would actually be equal at zero. However, if you compare the countries which resemble these systems most closely today, those that employ more free market principles indisputably have higher average and median incomes for their citizens.

  6. Why is the relative position of the poorest more important than their absolute position? Is concern about relative positions nothing more than envy?

    Our pal Tony made it clear to everybody that it is about envy and nothing more relevant than that, by making this queer comparison between methods of income as if there is something nefarious about making money through assets. He also repeated the same tired bromide against inheritance recipients.

    1. He must’ve heard Kommissar Obozo’s reading of the talking points at the latest State of The Narrative address. I sure as hell didn’t.

      1. He should go back to what he does best: Accuse libertarians of denying science when we show skepticism of government policies towards “mitigating” the “bad” effects of AGW.

  7. “You may not be rich, but your shoes will look like it.”

    “Slip the microfilm into the shoe…now.”

    “Don’t scratch that monocle.”

  8. “This is the important question that political philosopher John Tomasi, author of Free Market Fairness, puts to his classes at Brown University.”

    God. When will the indoctrination of our students by Marxist elites ever end?

    “Would they prefer a society in which everyone has the same low income, or one in which incomes vary, perhaps widely, but the lowest incomes are higher than the equal income of the first society?”

    Since there’s no evidence of an effect on economic growth, unemployment, or any other macroeconomic indicator (except, of course, Gini coefficients) by raising taxes on our gloriously innovative plutocratic masters can we safely file this exercise at public expense under question begging?

    1. Since we don’t live in a world where the government only taxes the rich, I think we can safely file your entry under “irrelevant unicorn fart wishes.”

    2. BTW, if there’s no effect on economic growth or unemployment when you tax the rich more, what’s the point?

      Does it merely satisfy your desire to get the money away from the rich, while employing the exact same number of people, in an economy that’s exactly the same size, with people earning roughly the same money? Sounds boring.

    3. Re: American stolid,

      Since there’s no evidence of an effect on economic growth, unemployment, or any other macroeconomic indicator (except, of course, Gini coefficients) by raising taxes on our gloriously innovative plutocratic masters can we safely file this exercise at public expense under question begging?

      What the FUCK are you talking about, you mendacious little fuck?

      Here’s a graph which shows the increase in the effective tax rate on high income earners from 1925 to 145, coinciding the highest tax increases with the Great Depression.

      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_otfw…..h/tax1.bmp

      That increase had a huge effect on capital formation and investment during the Great Depression. So don’t say there isn’t any evidence, you fucking liar.

      1. So, doesn’t this chart say something to the opposite of what you are saying? The Great Depression started in 1929 when the tax rate you cite was the lowest. In 1943 the economic growth rate was 78%! And the tax rate was 94%. You right-wingers sure have me confused.

        Let’s not quibble though about economic growth being -26% in a year when rich people were taxed at 25% and 78% when rich people were taxed at 94%. That’s just lefty cherry-picking. Surely there’s got to be some evidence of an effect that isn’t 80 years old.

        1. The Great Depression started in 1929 when the tax rate you cite was the lowest. In 1943 the economic growth rate was 78%! And the tax rate was 94%. You right-wingers sure have me confused.

          Not surprising that you’re so confused, considering this growth rate was during World War 2 when government spending was through the roof to fight that war. Maybe if you weren’t such a historical or statistical ignoramus you might realize this.

        2. Let’s really take a look at what american shitheap said here. He’s saying that in order to send economic growth skyrocketing, we need to live in a hyper-managed economy where everything remotely perishable is strictly rationed, and we need to be involved in a global genocidal conflict.

          This guy is a stupid as Krugman with 10% of the education.

          1. To be fair, Krugman’s not stupid, just arrogant and mendacious.

        3. And after the war, hardly anyone paid the 94% tax rates. The lower and middle classes paid a lot more. The bottom ? of income earners paid 29% of taxes in 1958 and now they pay about 7%. Since the 94% tax rate was cut, a lot of tax shelters for the wealthy were eliminated and a lot of tax credits for the lower and middle class were created.

          Do you really want to undo all that?

          Or maybe you’re nostalgic for the tax shelters well-to-do professionals used to eliminate their income on paper along with their tax liability.

          1. That argument about what percentage the high earners make is bogus. If the top 100 people made 20 billion a year and the rest of us made 20,000 a year only 100 people would pay all the income tax.

            The true measure is what percentage is paying taxes. Before Reagan indexed the taxes to inflation only 20% didn’t pay income tax. Now it is 47%. This may sound good but is really isn’t. It means peoples income haven’t kept pace with inflation and that include the phony way the government calculates inflation.

    4. You do realize that the ‘plutocrat’ meme is bullshit, right? 60% of the top 1% will not be in the top 1% in 10 years. A turnover like that is not an aristocracy by any stretch.

      Also, are you threatened by the idea that a non-leftist is actually allowed to teach courses or something? Marxist indoctrination does about sum it up, btw. I was an undergrad a few years ago. I had a professor “teach” a class that the GOP existed to salvage white male elite hegemony; show us pictures of homeless people and tell us the GOP was to blame, and socialism was the answer (the same prof did not know whether the French or Russian revolution happened first, and he was a history professor; so much for the intellectual left).

      Another prof try to teach the Marxian idea of ‘false consciousness’ onc again “teaching” (not offering as a topic for discussion) that voting for a non-leftist candidate was anti-working class. I had another professor fawn over the sociopathic Stalinists who murdered thousands in the Spanish civil war, effectively inciting the end of the Republic and the rise of Franco. Another went out of his way to minimize the Holodomor.

      And this college was not Berkeley or anything. Make no mistake, there is no shortage of mentally unhinged, conscience impaired tenured leftists in today’s faculties who see their sole purpose as proselytizing their brand of lunacy.

      1. Lets see if this statistic holds now that more and more of the “wealth” is only going to the top 1/10 percent.

        1. ^ envy.

  9. Since I believe in a meritocracy I therefore believe in income equality. That is why an estate tax is just. Dead people aren’t hurt by taxes.

    1. That’s probably the most incoherent thing I’ve read all day.

      1. How does a belief in meritocracy result in a belief in income equality?
      2. What does whether or not someone is harmed have to do with meritocracy or equality?

      1. What? The market sets income based on merit.

        And since taxes are by nature redistributive the dead can pay the highest rate with no harm to them.

        1. Re: Peter Caca,

          What? The market sets income based on merit.

          Income is based on how fast you trade, i.e. how productive you are. The more you trade, the more income you gain. Or how much value you trade; the more value you trade, the more income you obtain.

          When talking about merit, it is a word used to refer to consumer satisfaction. There’s no equality in consumer satisfaction because consumers are fickle.

          And since taxes are by nature redistributive the dead can pay the highest rate with no harm to them.

          The harm is to capital accumulation. Without capital, you can’t have production and therefore economic growth.

        2. The market sets income based on merit.

          Which means that incomes will be necessarily UNequal because they are driven by the marketability of various skills, knowledge, etc.

          the dead can pay the highest rate with no harm to them.

          The dead have a right to have their property go to whomever they like upon their passing. (I assume you were referring to a 100%, or at least very high, inheritance tax.)

          1. Agree on the first.

            I am not sure the dead have rights. The Constitution talks about persons.

            1. I am not sure the dead have rights.

              I meant distribution of their property via their wills or simply going to the next of kin when they die. The government does not (or at least should not) get to confiscate your property when you die.

            2. And I do not see how you agree on the first given the following:

              Since I believe in a meritocracy I therefore believe in income equality.

              I was saying that incomes are necessarily UNEQUAL in a market because different things have different value, which means the labor to produce different things has varying values.

              1. Oh shit. I just realized I left the prefix off “inequality”.

                My bad. No wonder I confused everyone.

            3. Palin’s Buttplug:

              I am not sure the dead have rights. The Constitution talks about persons.

              OK, so let’s assume that you don’t have an inheritance tax. Who gets the money that would otherwise be taxed?

              OK, now let’s assume that we have an inheritance tax. Who ends up with less money than they would without the inheritance tax?

              Based on those results, do we still say that inheritance taxes do no harm because dead people have no rights?

              Dead people also pay no inheritance taxes, either, yet the money does come from somewhere. That’s a big hint on the nature of inheritance taxes.

            4. Palin’s Buttplug|1.22.15 @ 8:01PM|#
              “I am not sure the dead have rights.”

              Turd is convinced dead people benefit from having money!
              Turd’s an ignoramus. Fuck off, turd.

            5. They have a right to decide who inherits their property upon death. It is not a matter of the dead person’s rights. If I give something to person A, then person B steals it, my rights have not been violated, rather person A’s rights have. Inheritance is a gift from one person to another, specified on the condition of death. By the time a person is dead, rightful ownership has passed to the inheritor, and to to deny them the property is to deny the inheritor their rights. If you don’t believe in right of inheritance, then you cannot also believe in the right to give gifts either.

              Secondly, the right to leave money to one’s children upon death is a great motivator. It arguably motivates as many entrepreneurial pursuits as selfishness. Eliminate this motive, and many people, especially those more motivated by insuring the welfare of their families than selfishness, will be less inclined to create.

              Thirdly, money passed on to heirs often goes to education or investment in productive endeavors, even to charity. Eliminate it, and instead people will just spend all their money during their lives on less socially productive, more selfish things. Granted, you’ll boos aggregate demand, but so what? What creates more for society: free top notch education for a rich guy’s dozens of children, granchildren, and great grandchildren, an a few big donations to charities, or a bunch of yachts and $20,000 umbrella stands?

        3. Palin’s Buttplug:

          What? The market sets income based on merit.

          Please show how a market sets income based on merit. How do you define merit?

          And since taxes are by nature redistributive the dead can pay the highest rate with no harm to them.

          1. Uh, dead people can’t be harmed because they are dead. That has nothing to do with the nature of taxes. If taxes weren’t redistributive, could you harm the dead that way? Are we writing while drunk?

          2. What does avoiding harm have to do with meritocracy? Do you want to base decisions on merit, or harm? They don’t magically become the same.

          1. Whatever the market decides becomes “merit”. Dude – relax.

            1. So, the market sets income based on merit, and merit is whatever the market decides. So, a meritocracy is just another word for free market.

              merit: the quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially so as to deserve praise or reward.

              I’m not sure merit means what you think it means.

              1. Not to quibble, but income isn’t really merit based, it’s based on the production of value. Opportunity can be merit based, but in the end, production of value is the determinant of reward (though it is a quibble.)

                1. You mean all the “value” the fucks on Wall Street produced?

        4. Who determines merit (when the market doesn’t)?

        5. Oy vey. Get your own shit loser. Leave mine alone. If you believe in property rights, then it’s illogical to argue that one has no right to transfer those rights. If you don’t believe in property rights then anyone with the will and enough force can do or take whatever they want, when they can get away with it. And if you say – “if there is no harm” – I respond – “You don’t have a right not to be harmed.” FYTW Great social philosophy.

    2. Re: Peter Caca,

      Since I believe in a meritocracy I therefore believe in income equality.
      You seem to be a strong believer in the power of the non-sequitur.

      That is why an estate tax is just. Dead people aren’t hurt by taxes.

      There’s a reason why grave robbers still go to jail, you know… But not the government. The government can steal with impunity, because there will be idiots like you justifying anything the government does.

      Taxes don’t affect the dead but they certainly affect the living. There’s no difference between entering a dead person’s home and steal their stuff and what the government does.

      1. The distinction is based on the false premise that “government” or society are actual entities. They’re just collective individuals. Since individuals can’t rob graves or steal you stuff without criminality, then how can two people do it legally or 300 million?
        But socialists believe that government is an entity (not corporations) and therefore has moral authority to steal. You’ll never convince them otherwise because they are tools.

    3. That is why an estate tax is just. Dead people aren’t hurt by taxes.

      That’s the justification you’re sticking to? Is it just, then, to come rob your house when you’re on vacation, because you won’t be around to feel badly about it? Dead people have these things called families. Heirs. Children. They can be hurt by estate taxes.

      Estate taxes levy a tax on assets that have already been taxed, you know that, right? Land belonging to the deceased is taxed twice: annual property taxes, plus the estate tax. Money that belonged to the deceased, s/he likely already paid taxes on it; it was taxed as his/her income, regardless if it was capital gains income or employment income. It was already taxed. If it was pulled out of most types of retirement accounts, it was taxed when it was withdrawn.

      Just because you die and you no longer need your stuff doesn’t mean the government now owns your stuff and gets to take what they want of it.

      1. But he wouldn’t have a problem with a rich person giving all of their money to their kids before they die. That’s different, natch!

    4. If you believed in meritocracy then those who earned it, get to decide where it goes.

    5. This is a bona fide retardism you just spouted. Meritocracy is fundamentally at odds with income equality, because people are not of equal talent or competence. Intelligence is largely hereditary. for one. A meritocratic society is inevitably quite economically inegalitarian, an an economically egalitarian society is inevitably grotesquely anti-meritocratic.

    6. That suggests it is OK to burglarize and haul off the recently deceased stuff since they cannot harmed.

      The legal heirs take possession of the estate immediately upon their benefactor’s death with being held in ambivalence until all the legal niceties are taken care of.

    7. Why am I not surprised that Warren Buffett’s cock sucking stoolie thinks an estate tax is just fucking grand?

    8. The dead don’t pay the taxes. Their inheritors do. Once i die, my property either becomes the property of whomever i designated in my will, or by common law to my family. So you are taxing my family, not my dead corpse. The idea of inheritance is that i choose to forgo the enjoyment of the fruits of my labor so that my family can benefit from it after i die. To try to take that money away from my family is a violation of their, and my, property rights. The constitution says you can’t due that without due process (unless it is income, so the taxes on the property i leave have already been paid by my taxes when i was alive). Inheritance taxation is really double taxation, much like capital gains taxation. It’s just greed of the government which stirs up envy of the people to let them get away with it.

  10. I know of a system that most efficiently allocates resources. And it doesn’t fucking require all of the overhead of a bunch of people who are elected for every reason but their knowledge of economics and their devotion to ethics.

  11. It is not the proper role of government to redistribute wealth/income or meddle in voluntary transactions or mandate a given compensation for employment. That is all.

    1. Every time the tax code, immigration laws, employment laws, ….. are changed the government is redistributing wealth in some way.

  12. A double dip of buttony with associalist on top…indigestion near.

  13. The new fashionable issue is whining about other people being more successful than you. WAIT A MINUTE. Isn’t income equality called Communism? There was a day when we were against the commies. Most people understand why the USSR and other commie states failed; in their system nobody is rich but everyone is POOR. The exceptions are the elite government officials – all powerful and pampered. I am a capitalist – don’t talk to me about incomes. You want more money? Roll up your sleeves and get to work. There is wealth to be taken.

  14. Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney is also talking this issue.

    In case no one else runs of course.

    1. Re: Peter Caca,

      Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney is also talking this issue.

      And how do you feel about it?

      1. Have I mentioned my flat tax plan lately?

        25% rate and a $25,000 standard deduction no other deductions.

        End.

        1. Rate seems a little high, but I’d take that.

        2. Cut the rate in half and I’d vote for it. Wouldn’t be what I would propose but I would take it over the current scam.

        3. Or people pay for the goods and services they value. Poor people and those on the wrong end of the social justice venn diagram end up pating no taxes.

        4. Huh…disturbingly similar to mine, except the rate you posted is 15 percentage points too high.

  15. But Mitt doesn’t pander. He said he is a “severe” conservative.

    1. Mitt’s conservative?

  16. Mandeville, to whom the prof, I suspect owes a debt of gratitude, opted for acorns, just wanting to point out the hypocrisy of those decrying what they, themselves, had created. In our case, it’s the middle class which has always scooped up all the perks.

  17. I am always amazed when discussions of increased income inequality in the US somehow manage to avoid the factor of immigration. Tens of millions of poor, uneducated people who often don’t speak English have immigrated in the last 40 years, folks. That’s enough to move that particular needle.

    1. Very true. The US has assimilated chunks of the third world every generation since the Irish potato famine. Most of us are three generations or less away from peasantry. Comparing us with Europe, which is only just beginning to see major immigration, is ludicrous.

      The US’s ‘inequality’ isn’t evidence of a failure of capitalism. Precisely the opposite, the fact that we are in any better shape than Mexico right now is evidence of the success of capitalism.

  18. However, measuring alt-text inequality is a very simple thing.

  19. Another stupid all or nothing article. Do you want to be able to be rich or do you want to be destitute? How about what we had in the 50s and 60s when the government didn’t have it’s thumb on the employer side of the scale by importing million of people, importing “guest” workers and allowing companies to ship millions of jobs offshore all to benefit the few at the top?

    There was nothing stopping innovation then. American companies in electronics had no problem developing the transistor and integrated circuit. They had no problem inventing video tape. Management did have a problem seeing long term projects through.

    People say the unions killed the automotive industry. Really, who decided that the most important thing on a car was changing the type of tail fins it had while Europeans and Japanese were working on developing better engines and suspensions? Who decided that “economies of scale” should be so distorted that the only difference between a Chevy and a Cadillac was the color of the plastic crap you glued to the body? Who decided that “more car per care” meant putting a ten dollar radio in a car and adding thirty dollars to the sticker? Who signed those union contracts? Who refused to open the books probably because management was stealing tons of money from the shareholders and didn’t want them to know.

  20. my neighbor’s ex-wife makes $62 every hour on the computer . She has been out of work for five months but last month her paycheck was $18411 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this site……..
    ?????? http://www.cashbuzz80.com

  21. When the largest contributors to congressional elections are wealthy out-of-state entities, the honest politicians stay bought.

  22. “Income Inequality Is a Problem?When Caused by Government Meddling”

    It should read

    Income Inequality Is a Problem Caused by Government Meddling

  23. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

  24. Cronyism, the convoluted Tax Code, excessive regulations, the national debt and the Federal Reserve are the major causes of the widening income inequality gap.

    Solutions:

    Abolish Tax Code and IRS.
    Enact Fair Tax (national sales tax).
    Minimize regulations to only what is absolutely necessary.
    Balance the budget.
    Start decreasing the national debt.
    Abolish the Federal Reserve as we know it. Replace it with an automated system as Milton Friedman suggested.
    Treat gold and silver as legal tender (not as an asset) for tax purposes.

    The income inequality problem is counterintuitive. Big government equals more income inequality. Smaller government equals less income inequality.

    The middle class is the byproduct of a free market economy; it is not manufactured by a politician’s tax gimmicks, minimum wage laws, or government redistribution of wealth.

    There is no such thing as a living wage; there is only a wage that someone can afford to pay. You have to tailor your living around your wage, not have government tailor your wage around your living.

    It is about supply and demand. If you have an easy time filling your employee needs, you offer lower wages, if you have a hard time filling your employee needs, you offer higher wages; because if you do not your competition will and you will be out of business.

    It is not about what people deserve or what is fair or what is just; it is about what the market will bear. Blame the consumer for shopping for the lowest price.

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