Rand Paul

Rand Paul: "If you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor."

|

Gage skidmore

At last night's GOP debate, Sen. Rand Paul was asked about the rise of income inequality in the United States. CEOs, moderator Gerard Baker said, now earn about 300 times what a typical worker makes. Does the widening gap between the rich and the poor matter?

Rand Paul responded by arguing, "I think that we ought to look where income inequality seems to be the worst. It seems to be worst in cities run by Democrats…"

The question itself overstated the relative difference between CEO salaries and those of typical workers. (As The Washington Post's Fact Checker noted earlier this year, the actual story is more complicated, with CEOs at very large firms tending to earn extremely high wages while the majority of CEOs earn quite a bit less.)

But Paul is right about the concentration of inequality in major urban areas. A 2013 report from Brookings ranked the cities with the most and least inequality; big blue-state cities with Democratic mayors tended to be the most unequal, while somewhat smaller cities in red states with Republican mayors tend to demonstrate less inequality.

Rand Paul concluded his response by saying that "the bottom line is, if you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor."

It's a punchy, partisan debate line, and it's true enough as far as it goes. But there are other, perhaps better ways to think about the question.

When it comes to inequality, the important thing isn't really inequality itself—the size of gap between the floor and the ceiling—it's where the floor is set.

Most of the rhetoric around inequality tends to focus on the top—on how much CEOs make, or how wealthy the top sliver of earners are. Instead, the focus should be on the lower end of the spectrum. The most important thing isn't how rich the richest people are, but the conditions and opportunities available for the least well off. You can always reduce inequality by cutting down the peaks, but what really matters is whether you're lifting up the bottom end. 

Advertisement

NEXT: Post-Debate, Is Rand Paul Back?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Because where Republicans govern everyone is poor!”

    1. Well, Republicans tend not to be mayors of large commercial centers, where income inequality is the highest. And that’s not because there is such a high percentage of poor people. It’s because there’s such a high percentage of rich people. And this is more of a correlation not causation thing anyway.

    2. At least the 1% is the bottom 1%, so alls good.

  2. Three cheers for inequality!

  3. what really matters is whether you’re lifting up the bottom end.

    Must… resist….

    1. This one’s a girl.

    2. 4 inch heels for all!

  4. Yay Rand. I still will cheer for him. But this election cycle he is un-electable imo.

  5. And as far as I can tell, the ‘bottom end’ has never been prevented from being lifted.

    1. Damn 1%er!!!!!

      /foaming at the mouth envyist

  6. I honestly think people have been declaring Rand dead for way too long.

    I think he could either win, or at least come in 2nd in New Hampshire. At which point everything would change re: his perceived viability.

    1. Didn’t his dad get 1% in NH? Rand will be lucky to get that.

      1. The most recent poll I can find at RCP for NH is Nov 3. Conducted by WBUR/MassInc, it turned out like this: Trump 18, Carson 16, Rubio 11, Kasich 10(!), Christie 8, Bush 7, Cruz 6, Fiorina 6, Paul 3. Everyone else was at 1 or 0.

        Needless to say, this poll looks quite a bit different that the consensus polls in other states, but Paul isn’t doing very well.

        The perception that Rand’s foreign policy is not much different than his dad’s, and Rand’s backing of amnesty, has been torpedoing him with the pool of psuedo-populist voters giving love to Trump, Carson, and now Rubio. I don’t see Rand winning without being able to win them over, and I don’t think he can.

    2. I don’t think he’ll win, but it’s definitely premature to rule him out until at least after the first few primaries; most people are stupid and have very short memories and ephemeral opinions, so if Rand manages to avoid getting outted as a pedophile or something, then he still has a chance at least up to the start of the primaries.

  7. but what really matters is whether you’re lifting up the bottom end.

    Well, yes and no.

    For most of the folks screaming about income inequality, it really is leveling the peaks that they’re after. It really is the idea that some guy is really rich that bothers them.

    Personally, while I’m a lot more sympathetic to Suderman’s take, I’d say it’s how much you’re removing the barriers from the bottom end to leaving the bottom end that matters. You’re always going to have people on the really, really, really, shitty end of the stick. No matter how awesome your world, a drug addled schizophrenic homeless man is probably not going to be having a really nice day.

    1. no that’s the problem yo if you admit that a drug addled schizophrenic should maybe make less money than anyone else you’re buying in to some paradigm or something

      1. it’s the shitty end of the stick existing in the first place that’s some people’s problem. something being “better” necessarily implies something else being “worse”, but if we hope hard enough i think we can get around that

    2. “a drug addled schizophrenic homeless man is probably not going to be having a really nice day.”

      He may be the one who is least troubled by it though.

      I once dated a girl who had two younger twin sisters with Down’s Syndrome.

      They were the two happiest people I have ever met in my life. They always had smiles on their faces 24/7 and laughed out loud and found pleasure with the smallest of gifts or kindness towards them.

      1. Just for the record schizophrenic people who do not have their disease under control are not, generally speaking, happy. Down’s syndrome causes some cognitive and relatively minor physical disabilities, you don’t have to be the smartest kid in school to live a happy, fulfilling life; someone suffering the effects of schizophrenia is spending their days battling with their own mind, fighting to survive a struggle against a never ending chain of demons and other assorted enemies that they have no way of knowing aren’t real; add to that depression and the side effects of drug addiction and it’s pretty safe to assume that you aren’t having a happy day.

  8. I’ve never been inclined to measure my income against that of my boss. How much my boss makes is completely irrelevant.

    What matters is whether I’m paid commensurate with the value I bring to the company (currently, I say yes) and how well my income meets my needs. When it doesn’t I start working on improving that some way: adjusting my needs, or improving my market value so that I can get more income (e.g. by acquiring a pertinent certification).

    I don’t look for politicians to fix these things for me. It’s my life, and thus my responsibility. Besides, do I really want some jerkoff who doesn’t know me or care about me to make key decisions about my life? I say no.

    1. My boss works way more than I do and has like 20 years more experience. She absolutely should make more than me.

      1. Just think of how much more she’d make if she were a he.

        Relax. I keed.

    2. What matters is whether I’m paid commensurate with the value I bring

      I believe you just put your finger on what causes so much angst amongst those most concerned with income inequality.

      1. “I believe you just put your finger on what causes so much angst amongst those most concerned with income inequality.”

        … and the reality is people severely overestimate the value of their own resources.

        It’s inherent in the nonsense term “living wage” and the implication that one is wronged by not getting paid it. Do we pay someone a living wage for doing a job that doesn’t need done? I mean if everyone deserves a living wage why aren’t we demanding that corporations hire random unemployed people to dig holes and then fill them back up for minimum wage? The answer is that no amount of stretching and spin doctoring can hide the ridiculousness of the idea. Everyone likes to talk “sustainability” except when it comes to wages where people suddenly stop caring about sustainability (the idea that the task you put your resources to should at least break even). The reality is some people’s labor is not worth to begin with and many of those jobs don’t need to be done by a human anymore.

        You’re worrying about CEO pay because it’s convenient; it’s much easier to point the finger at someone else than to identify the real issue which is people with no skills who are content to stay where they’re at in a world where “no skill” jobs are quickly disappearing. Income equality is just a red herring, the real “problem” is that human society is changing, and the people on the bottom of the skills ladder have little motivation to address the issue.

    3. “I’ve never been inclined to measure my income against that of my boss. ”

      Unfortunately it seems a lot of people don’t share this view. Just last week shortly before the start of work I was chatting with a coworker. While talking, the head manager of the facility happened to walk by. My coworker then says something along the lines of, “You know how much she makes in a year?” Then he goes on about her making in a few months what he makes in the whole year and how “that’s just so wrong.” I don’t care to get in a debate so I didn’t really say anything. I just don’t get that kind of attitude. Does he know what she actually does? My guess would be no. So what makes him think she doesn’t actually earn the money she makes? That her job isn’t actually worth more than what our job is?

      1. My answer would be “then why don’t you go do her job?”

      2. My answer would be “then why don’t you go do her job?”

  9. But Paul is right about the concentration of inequality in major urban areas. A 2013 report from Brookings ranked the cities with the most and least inequality; big blue-state cities with Democratic mayors tended to be the most unequal, while somewhat smaller cities in red states with Republican mayors tend to demonstrate less inequality.

    I can tell you that Seattle pushes income inequality by explicit policy. The city aggressively runs up the cost of living for even the most mundane items in such a way where top earners hardly notice, while the city pays poorer people to continue living here. Literally paying them.

    What this does is squeeze out your middle income earners because they’re too wealthy to get subsidized, but too ‘poor’ to weather the sharply increased daily cost of living.

    1. Besides, it’s easier for middle income earners to move to Texas…

      1. If I have a chance to become much wealthier in NYC, why on earth would I move to Texas?

        1. My guess is it’s a question of risk tolerance. Yes, you have a chance at becoming much wealthier in NYC. However, it is quite plausible that, if you don’t come out on top, you’re income/cost situation would be better in Texas.

          Now, me? I do quant finance. So, in my case, at least, the entire proposition would suck – lower success probability, lower average income, etc.

    2. This is why, I hate whenever someone asks the question “do you care about income inequality” or “should we do something about it”, if you say Yes, it’s assumed that you mean forcible redistribution.

      No, fuck you, I don’t want redistribution. I want to abolish the government interventions that exacerbate inequality like the Federal Reserve, the regulatory state which leads to business consolidation which leads to those rich CEOs it’s trendy to envy, and the War on Poverty which has created so many perverse incentives that keep people trapped at the bottom, and everything else.

      Do not concede this loaded assumption. Point to progressive policies.

  10. What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics, explains how income inequality creates economic growth in a society.
    The Unsung Genius of Inequality (YouTube)

  11. We see this kind of thing a lot in NYC. The proponents of the same old policies say, “But we have to have rent stabilization/city-planned housing/crazy tenancy laws/whatever, because otherwise the poor would never be able to manage living here!” And you say, but haven’t liberal Democrats been running NYC for a long time? How is it that the city still has these problems? To which they usually respond with “But it would be EVEN WORSE if we did anything else!” Which is the magic tiger-repelling rock of political arguments.

  12. It’s an absolutely idiotic thing to say, meant only to excite the base that doesn’t know better. It’s transparently conflating correlation with causation.

    If New York City would have elected a Republican mayor (their last two mayors were, after all, Republicans) instead of the Democrat they elected, would Rand have said that? Doubtful.

    It reminds me of when George Will tried to make the “argument” that since most rich people live in blue states, most rich people are Democrats. Which can be immediately refuted as utter horse-shit.

    1. “It’s an absolutely idiotic thing to say, meant only to excite the base that doesn’t know better. It’s transparently conflating correlation with causation.”

      Well this is the Republican Primaries. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

      “If New York City would have elected a Republican mayor (their last two mayors were, after all, Republicans) instead of the Democrat they elected, would Rand have said that? Doubtful.”

      Well Mr. “Giuliani-time” had a habit of treating Republicans like redheaded step children (e.g. his endorsement of Mario Cuomo) and had a nasty habit of big government antics, on top of general corruption (Bernie Kerik). As for Bloomy, he was a Republican alright, right after he discovered that he would face competition in his own Democratic Party for Mayor in 2001. Then of course there was his declaration as an “Independent” before he ran for a third term. Add in his Nanny State paternalism on everything from Gun Control to Soda sizes I don’t think anyone ever took him seriously as an actual “Republican.” Hell, the NYC GOP barely exists today partly because of him. My whole point is New York is a special case of insanity that should never be used as an example for anything. It has great food
      though!

      And I agree George Will has a habit of being silly.

    2. Bloomberg. Republican?

      I guess.

  13. The reason that there’s income inequality is largely due to this country’s idiotic monetary policy which has seen ungodly amounts of fiat dollars created out of thin air and directed to the largest and most connected banks and corporations in the past 8 years (which I blame both parties for since they both seem unwilling to do anything about our idiotic monetary policy; Obama gets more blame because he has the power to nominate Fed directors). These banks and corporations are largely based in large cities.

    Perversely, very little of that money has percolated to the masses (a point which Rand has also made) and — since monetary policy is hard understand but new stories about how Goldman Sachs’s CEO made a gazillion dollars is easy to understand — it’s pretty easy to see why (some) people think the thing to be done about “income inequality”.

    1. There will always be income inequality – whether through Kings/Party Members/Corporate-Cronyism using the levers of power to extract it through force or through hard-working, talented people commanding it through skill, sweat of the brow and free trade. We should worry much about the latter and worry a great deal about the former.

    2. Liberals love to blast “trickle down” economics (without really understanding it), but can’t find themselves to oppose the Federal Reserve whose policy is a de facto wealth transfer from the poor to rich.

      If Rand needs to turn these complex issues into soundbites, he should start by pointing that out.

      1. Or a fiscal policy which transfers wealth from future taxpayers to future government bond-holding investors, a phenomenon I very much doubt can be described as ‘trickling down.’

      2. Liberal love to blast trickle down economics because it’s a straw man, not an economic philosophy that anyone has ever proposed. It’s a severe mischaracterization of supply-side economics, condemning failures to achieve outcomes that supply side economists never claimed would happen. Thomas Sowell a few years ago challenged anyone to find one politician or economist who’d ever advocated a trickle down theory of economics and nobody could do it.

        What I’ve discovered from debating this with liberals is the reason most of them don’t understand supply side economics is that they’re a bunch economically illiterate anti-intellectual fucktards who’d rather whine about me talking over their heads than pick up a book and actually learn anything about the subject they’re trying to argue. And the reason they can’t understand that “trickle down” doesn’t exist is they don’t want to believe anything a non-liberal says about their dogma because it makes them feel ill at ease about their self-perceived intellectualism.

  14. My disinterest in how much a person makes ends when it’s shown that – whatever the amount may be – it was obtained by using the levers of Power and Force to channel that income to themselves. My indignation is proportionate to the amount stolen – “earning” millions by being the first pig at the trough of debased currency on down to the welfare recipient. If a person earns whatever they make through the peaceful function of the free market, I have no interest other than the transactions I partake in as a seller or buyer. So, then, to even ponder inequality is a secondary function added to a primary function I don’t have an interest in. And worrying about secondary inequality of the unearned is moot when the primary concern is the unearned itself.

    And if there is to be co-operative services, a flat rate on all earnings would be more than enough – say a 7% tax across the board with no deductions or exemptions.

    1. If a person earns whatever they make through the peaceful function of the free market, I have no interest other than the transactions I partake in as a seller or buyer.

      Well, I for one, am very interested in learning how they did it.

  15. I’d be careful about lifting that bottom too high. A ladder is pretty useless if you can’t even reach the bottom rung because you lack skills, which many do.

    1. Which part of ‘bottom’ confused you? 😉

    2. Althouse wants to know where you’ve been.

      Just kidding.

  16. Sounds like a plan to me dude.

    http://www.CompletePrivacy.tk

  17. “It’s a punchy, partisan debate line, and it’s true enough as far as it goes. But there are other, perhaps better ways to think about the question.”

    in a primary debate, punchy and partisan is preferable.

  18. “You can always reduce inequality by cutting down the peaks, but what really matters is whether you’re lifting up the bottom end. ”

    Not if you’re a liberal democrat.

    What really matters is ginning up more excuses to further advance socialism.

  19. Comparing average worker salary to CEO salary is a stupid measure. Should the owner of a cafe make the same as the CEO of Starbucks? Of course not.
    Compare CEO salary to total employee salary, or maybe to revenue. Any other measure is meaningless.

    1. Better yet, compare it to the benefit he or she provides to the company…

  20. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    http://www.HomeJobs90.com

  21. This is the definitive way to stop Economic Inequality:

    The First-Ever Publicly Traded Corporation On Wall Street Guaranteed To Stop Economic Inequality Is Now In Development.

    Antilope, LLC, the parent company of FirstRateCrowd.com is developing a web platform that monetizes the greed of Wall Street by means that guarantee to stop Economic Inequality. First Rate Crowd will utilize its “patent pending” Economic Inequality Rating system to ascertain how much Economic Inequality certain companies are responsible for. Those companies with a high rating, specifically those companies of the 1% which produce the most greed and Economic Inequality, will be avoided in favor of those with a lower rating, demonstrating support for the 99%. The use of this rating system represents a boycott of companies that do not support the values of the 99%.

    FirstRateCrowd is a powerful rating platform that combines the community’s strength with the power of crowdsourcing to achieve its goals. The platform’s “patent pending” for a crowdsourced online ownership by the community, eventually allows the members to be rewarded with both its revenue and control, depending on the members’ level of participation; a cooperative effort between FirstRateCrowd and the 99%.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.