Income inequality

Hate Income Inequality? Blame Intrusive Government Policies.

Government officials talk a good game about income inequality but impose policies that raise household costs, discourage employment, and kill opportunity.

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"Income inequality in the United States has increased significantly in the last four decades," Leilani Barnett of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco wrote last week for the California Economic Summit.

And, it turns out, the activist government interventions in the economy favored by the people most concerned about the increasing gap between rich and poor are probably making things a hell of a lot worse.

To back up a bit, not everybody agrees that income inequality in itself is an enormous concern. Writing for Reason, Ronald Bailey has pointed to research demonstrating that income mobility remains healthy, with Americans continuing to move beyond the socio-economic ranks into which they were born. "Results provide very little support for the hypothesis that inequality shapes mobility in the United States. The inequality children experienced during youth had no robust association with their economic mobility as adults," reports a 2014 paper he cited.

Still, the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor is a preoccupation in many circles—particularly among people who favor activist government economic policies to rectify the situation. So it's interesting when the Federal Reserve Bank's Barnett adds that "One factor contributing to this trend is the increase in involuntary part-time workers," and then reports that employers tell researchers they've turned to hiring part-time workers instead of full-timers because of the costs associated with employee benefits, health care, workers' compensation insurance, and minimum wage hikes.

Barnett draws from an April 2017 working paper that collected data through roundtables held across the West. Researchers found that housing, transportation, and child care availability and affordability are major concerns for job seekers. Employers told them they've changed their hiring practices in response to expensive government mandates. Workers are worried about exceeding income thresholds for social service benefits and so deliberately work less. And the "shadow economy"—off-the-books-work—has become an attractive way for people to make ends meet without running afoul of taxes, rules, and regulations.

Government mandates aren't just discouraging full-time private sector employment, the working paper notes—it's even hitting the people generating all that red tape. "One participant from the public sector stated that her agency 'chose to hire two part-time employees rather than one full-time employee because they could get a lot more hours of work for cheaper with two part-time employees due to much lower cost of benefits.'"

Some of those higher household costs burdening workers can be laid at the government's doorstep, too. I've written in the past that regulation of child care tends to make it inflexible and expensive. "Regulation intended to improve quality often focuses on easily observable measures of the care environment that do not necessarily affect the quality of care but that do increase the cost," reported economics professors Diana W. Thomas of Creighton University and Devon Gorry of Utah State University in a 2015 paper for the Mercatus Center.

Housing, too, has become more expensive as a result of regulatory action—particularly in California, where the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco makes its home.

"Many of California's problems are self-inflicted, the result of misguided policies that have tended to inflate land prices and drive up the cost of all kinds of housing," according to a report from Chapman University's Center for Demographics and Policy. "Since housing is the largest household expenditure, this pushes up the cost of living." In particular, the report puts the blame on state officials' war on "sprawl" and preference for dense, urban development. "In recent decades, land use policies have generally included 'urban containment' strategies that impose 'urban growth boundaries' and related policies that significantly restrict or even prohibit new suburban detached housing tracts from being built on greenfield land."

Lawmakers and government officials put on their concerned faces to talk a good game about income inequality. But then they impose policies that raise household costs, discourage employment, and distort even their own hiring practices. They then offer social services that can actually make working harder unattractive—unless you do so off the books.

This isn't the first time that the direct connection between interventionist economic policies and income inequality has been noticed. "High income inequality may cause states to implement redistributive policies causing economic freedom to decline," warned Illinois State University economist Oguzhan Dincer and his colleagues in a 2013 paper. "As economic freedom declines, income inequality rises even more. In other words, it is quite possible for a state to get caught in a vicious circle of high income inequality and heavy redistribution."

Case in point: Seattle's $15 per hour minimum wage was sold as a corrective to the gap between rich and poor. Instead, it has predictably raised the cost of hiring employees, reduced many workers' net income, and slammed the very people it was supposed to benefit.

Inevitably, limiting access to aboveground, full-time employment will exacerbate not just income inequality, but income mobility—the potential for people to rise above the circumstances into which they're born. Discouraging full-time employment with misguided polices cuts the bottom rung off the economic ladder and hacks pretty vigorously at those above, too.

Barnett shies away from recommending that government back off the economic interventions that are making life so much harder for so many people. She recommends, instead, "holistic solutions that integrate across the identified challenges" and that include a hefty dose of more government programs.

But it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that piling on more of the policy tinkering and interventions that have made economic advancement so difficult for so many people will just make matters worse.

Government officials should focus on undoing the damage they've done. And then they should leave people alone to make a living. Given the fallout from past fiddling, that looks like the best approach to correcting income inequality and for promoting a dynamic society that allows people to build decent lives.

NEXT: Sloppy History in The New York Times

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  1. I wonder how much the rise of income quality as a major contention point has to do with it being such an easily quantifiable metric. And one you can tweak in many ways to appear how you want it to.

    1. Aren’t you being a bit contradictory there, calling it both easily quantifiable and easy to tweak?

      I’ve seen enough reviews of Piketty’s book to suspect that income inequality has actually decreased. Consider life 100 years ago with now. Back then, the rich really did have things the poor didn’t — transportation not only locally, but nationally and internationally. Phones — telegrams — the poor simply could not get those. Medical treatment, bad as it was, was still far more available for the rich. Indoor plumbing electricity, servants.

      But now you have to be incredibly poor to not have a portable phone, and many of them are smart phones with the internet in your pocket. International flight is possible for all but the poorest. Medical care of even the simplest sort is available over the counter (aspirin etc, bandaids, neosporin), cars. What can the rich get that the poor can’t? Legroom on private jets. 400 foot yachts. But all get indoor plumbing, air conditioning, excellent food, cars, TV. Netflix streaming is what, $10 a month?

      I can’t see how the practical income gap has done anything except shrink enormously in the last 100 years, or even 10 or 20 years.

      1. How about the idea that there is no such ting as income inequality? Income is an output or result of many other factors; supply and demand, meritocracy, education, experience, negotiating skills, initiative, job performance, company policies limiting increases in salary to a certain percentage, and many other factors. Even in union jobs, where the dollar-per-hour rate may be the same across all employees, the income may not be the same. Overtime in many union shops is assigned or available based on tenure therefore the more senior workers acquire or can acquire more income than junior workers.

        1. Everything you wrote demonstrates that there is such a thing as income inequality. Different people have different incomes.

          1. Different doesn’t necessarily mean that there is some nefarious reason for the difference. The inequality label places an undeserved bias into the discussion. Income inequality comes across as something is being done to suppress someones income instead of different income results due to a number of factors, many based on the individual. Once the equality/inequality tag is applied the discussion becomes about good versus bad instead of discussing how to open opportunities for everyone. Often this turns into some government action is needed (the good) to counteract some perceived deficiency in the private sector (the bad), much like the description of a crisis loop mpercy describes in his/her post below.

            1. I see what you are saying. But I don’t think that the way to combat the notion that income inequality is a terrible thing is to say that it doesn’t exist. By the plain meaning of the words it does exist.
              When most people complain about income inequality, they aren’t complaining that the inequality exists at all, but about the magnitude of it. Almost no one actually thinks that everyone should have exactly the same income.
              What we need to convince people of is that in an open, free society inequality isn’t bad and often is necessary and good for the economy. It’s only a problem when it is created by a system where only connected elites have the ability to become wealthy because of corruption or excessive government control of the economy.

            2. Once the equality/inequality tag is applied the discussion becomes about good versus bad instead of discussing how to open opportunities for everyone.

              Only because the ‘tag’ triggers a knee-jerk reaction among those who worship their particular means of addressing the issue. Those who pre-favor govtl action will be jerked into reciting their hoary tales of how their preferred means will solve everything that is a problem. Those who pre-favor market action will be jerked into reciting their hoary tales of how their preferred means will solve everything that is a problem.

              Neither will question their own assumptions or their own means. Neither will listen for a nanosecond to what the other side actually considers a problem because it will be easier to wrestle all the zombie strawmen who get released by utterance of the word. So like chimps in the zoo, the hoohoohooHOOHOOs will get louder and the poo will soon be flying in all directions.

          2. But it’s a meaningless metric. It’s like saying that there are “differences in the balances of people’s savings accounts” and confusing that balance with the total wealth. Or that there are “differences in the weights of the clothes people wear” and confusing that with the weight of the people.

      2. I think there are two different things: income inequality and consumer equality. Income inequality may be increasing and consumer equality may be getting closer. It used to take a lot longer for technology to get cheap enough for the masses to acquire. When PC’s first came it took several years for most people to get one, but now the newest ones are sold immediately to the masses.

  2. One of my favorite regressive tax examples is the sales tax, started in 1930 because states wanted to boost revenue to make up for other taxes which were decreasing.

    A more regressive, anti-progressive tax is harder to imagine. I don’t see how any proper progressive can accept it.

    1. A progressive can accept it because it is a tax.

      1. Thank you. See: Sin taxes, because those poor people like things I don’t and should be punished. Why do you think Soda is taxed and not starbucks…

    2. That assumes that Progressives want to HELP the poor. There is goddamned little historical evidence for that. The Progressives love the poor like a glutton loves his lunch.

    3. A proper progressive can accept it because “government” is just another word for us all buttfucking the poor together.

    4. It depends on what you want to “progress” towards.
      If the goal is to “progress” towards equality, then a tax that is equal in proportion to the cost, for everyone, sounds like it is “progressing” in the right direction.
      What is “regressive” is taxation that is not uniform across all income levels.

    5. At least with a sales tax all people have to actually pay some taxes.

  3. How to create income inequality:
    Take a situation where two workers have a job working for 30 hours a week at ten dollars an hour. The business can afford to pay no more than six hundred dollars a week for this type of work.
    Pass a law raising the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour.
    Now there is one worker making fifteen dollars an hour for 40 hours a week, and one ex-worker making zero dollars an hour. The business serves fewer customers, because ti cannot stay open the twenty hours lost to the wage hike.
    Instant income inequality, requiring government intervention to correct.
    Repeat until everyone has an equal income. Sadly, that income will be zero, but it will be equal.

  4. Hate Income Inequality?

    No, because I am not a communist.

  5. The pattern is

    1. Government policy and poor regulation cause (or invents) a crisis.

    2. The government publicly and violently searches for culprits, aided by the MSM, and names the wrong parties–usually in the private sector.

    3. The government then rolls out a massive new law and its regulatory children to “fix” the problem as they defined it.

    4. The new law doesn’t solve the real problem, costs a lot, and has massive unintended (but fully predicted) consequences, including setting the stage for the next crisis, which will be bigger and more damaging.

    5. Memory of the past crisis fades and everybody reluctantly adjusts to the massive new regulatory overhead.

    6. A new crisis occurs. The government publicly and violently searches for the culprits, aided by the MSM–looking exclusively in the business community…

    1. correction on #6 A new crisis is created.

      1. You got it mpercy.

    2. When the response to the unintended consequences of well-intentioned legislation is more well-intentioned legislation with unintended consequences, the logical conclusion is a totalitarian hell.

  6. Government is the one place where everyone loves externalities.

  7. ‘urban growth boundaries’ and related policies that significantly restrict or even prohibit new suburban detached housing tracts from being built on greenfield land

    Policies that significantly restrict or even prohibit new construction of dense housing are also common and contribute to the rising cost of housing. I agree that building “nothing” on such land is stupid but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a place for denser development too.

  8. In the 20th century, and thus far in the 21st, any time the economy does something stupid or mean if you assume some assinine government policy is behind it you won’t be wrong often enough to matter.

  9. income inequality is one of those ideals that can never be meet thus creating job guarantee for those who like to get rich off of those they claim to help

  10. i know how to solve income inequality. In America, where every single person has the opportunity for a free education, cheap college tuition in the form of crazy loans, and the freedom to innovate and start your own business, the solution seems rather simple.

    Come up with an idea, work hard, make tons of profits and perhaps your income can be equal to many of your peers.

    Since this whole bullshit discussion is about envy and class warfare, one forgets that there is no such thing as an epidemic of income equality.
    Sure there is a higher concentration of wealth at the top and some of that is ill gotten gains to a few cronyists scumbags but the majority of the super rich have only capitalized on the crazy policies of our scum bag politicians who are not free market capitalists. The rest of the wealthy are smart, innovative, and incredibly interesting people.

    They should be celebrated for the jobs they have created and the changes they have brought to the world that have made even the Marxists douchebags’ lives exponentially better.

    1. why is it something to be solved? When people bitch about income inequality, they are literally complaining that some people make more and some people make less. That is actually *desirable*.

      It is asinine to think that income should be equal. These were the fucktards in school thinking they should get an A because the smart person in class did all the work and they slacked off. So we should also feel bad about “Grade inequality” too?

      That also assumes the only thing that matters is $$$, and not anything else. If your job is closer to home, more rewarding, takes less experience, etc, then yeah, it’s gonna pay less.

      I’m in IT and I make more then our call center reps, obviously. I used to work in the call center at my last company, and it was one of the most chill jobs ever. Low stress, just 8-5, etc. Now I’ve been working 24×7 for years. I had a rep say something like “oh you guys make the big bucks over there in IT…”. When I asked him if he wanted to switch jobs, he said no, he’d never want to work in IT.

      1. “It is asinine to think that income should be equal.”

        A ridiculous strawman invoked here several times already. It indicates that you have no remote fucking idea what the subject actually is.

        1. LOL I can always count on you to be the village idiot, Tony. Not really my fault you have no idea how economics work.

          1. But you apparently reject even the concept of macroeconomics.

            1. You apparently think income inequality is a bad thing.

              Yet I never hear what the “right” level of inequality is, just that it’s bad. Just bitching about outcomes and not opportunity.

              1. That’s a question that has no useful answer and so probably won’t ever be answered. But our society happens to have historically high levels of inequality, which has produced predictable stagnation in income growth for most people. If you want to be an ostrich on that problem, that’s your prerogative, but you don’t have to call people stupid because they happen to care.

                1. “because they happen to care”
                  Nice concern trolling. If there’s anything you should care about, its examining your failed ideology.

                  Funny how the areas where outcomes differ the most are in the most leftist places. I should know, I live in the Bay Area.

                  Somehow I don’t think your solution is to cut regulations and taxes to create more opportunity though. You’d think it would give you pause when people are moving out the Blue Model cities and over to Red areas, like Arizona and Texas, or formerly Red areas, like Nevada and Colorado.

                  1. Surely you don’t attribute the income inequality in the Bay area to anything but its bustling capitalism. I do not have an ideology, I simply support what has proven to work, based on evidence. And California, Massachusetts, Norway, Canada, etc., are wealthy and prosperous and have policies that I support. I support them because they work. You support yours because, I dunno, you were unpopular in high school and Ayn Rand came along and told you that you’d actually be better than all them if only you bought her tonic for $9.99?

                    1. More to the point, you’re setting up a false dilemma. It can be simultaneously true that there exist taxes and regulations that are too onerous for entrepreneurship to prosper (like in that capitalistic wasteland the Bay area, I suppose?) and also that there can be enough taxes and regulations to provide for a decent society for people to live in.

                      That’s why the entire discussion is about the proper mix of public and private, or should be if only you people would keep your pseudo-moral hand-wringing out of it.

                2. Our society doesn’t have historically high levels of income inequality; nor are incomes stagnant. I’ve corrected you on this so many times Tony.

                3. I can’t tell you how much inequality is bad, but I can tell you: our current level of inequality is bad!

        2. If portraying opponents of income inequality as people who want everyone to have the same income is a strawman, what exactly do opponents of income inequality want?

          1. More accurate to say opponents of excessive income inequality.

            Not because it’s arbitrarily more fair or morally correct for income/wealth to be more equally distributed, except in the sense that it’s morally correct to care about the well-being of people when we’re talking about macro policies in the first place.

            The Walton family, whose only entrepreneurial accomplishment was being born to the right parents, own more wealth than 40% of the rest of the country. Is that the outcome of a system organized by any moral principles? If not, what is the justification? Because I get lots of them here all the time and they’re all incredibly flimsy. Almost as if this ideology exists solely to justify keeping wealth where it is, and transferring more upward when feasible.

            1. The envy is strong in this one.

              1. What a wonderful worldview yours is that comes with so many off-switches for the brain.

                Mention people who wealth fall into their laps to illustrate a flaw in your conception of ownership and fairness, yell “envy” and be done with it.

                You must have so much time to accomplish things on your hands.

                1. Having silly, simplistic notions of “property rights” is just stupid.

                  Having simplistic notions of “fair” is totes awesome.

            2. >>>The Walton family

              is not your business, unless you are Tony Walton.

            3. Let me rephrase, and add a couple of follow up questions.

              What do opponents of excessive income inequality ultimately want?

              If the goal is to make people more moral, by having them care more about the lives of poor people wouldn’t high taxes lead to the opposite effect?

              Let’s say we institute a 25% wealth tax (the kind of taxes that would really hit people like the Waltons). What do we do if they tax doesn’t measurably improve the lives of poor citizens? What comes next?

              1. Changing people’s morals is not the goal. The goal is multi-fold. Too much wealth concentration corrupts democracy. A larger middle class means more economic growth and more widespread prosperity and happiness. It also means a larger tax base for funding social projects, which means I don’t have to step over starving homeless children on the way to work. Maybe that last bit, or all of it, has a moral component. But it’s nothing quite so impressive as the libertarian moral code, “finders keepers.”

                I fail to see how giving poor people money doesn’t improve their lives almost by definition.

                1. I fail to see how treating the economy as a zero-sum game is not the height of complex thinking.

                2. See: The War On Poverty

                3. There are non so blind as those who “fail to see”.
                  If giving money to poor people improves their lives so much, how come the poverty rate hasn’t decreased with the trillions we have given them?

                  1. NONE so blind
                    Damn unable to edit.

                4. But it’s nothing quite so impressive as the libertarian moral code, “finders keepers.”

                  At no point did I even remotely intimate that sentiment. I try to be polite to you, but you always end up replying to me with some snide remark. You don’t know anything about me or what I believe, and your oblique insinuations about my character are insulting.

                  1. Tony is our pet retarded monkey, and he flings shit through his cage at everyone. Don’t take it personally, Nihil.

                    1. @Palatki

                      If Tony is the pet retarded monkey what does that make you? Dog shit? Sorry I don’t like going to these lows, but I also don’t like seeing others being demeaned when they are trying to have a decent conversation.

                      If Nihil is upset over what Tony said then he needs to grow a thicker skin. I would have to say that Tony probably hit the nail on the head with the comment “But it’s nothing quite so impressive as the libertarian moral code, “finders keepers.”

                      As to Nihil – you may not have directly made that sentiment but your whole rhetoric speaks of it.

                5. Give more poor people more money, and they’re just better off.

                  It really is that simplistic.

            4. The Walton family, whose only entrepreneurial accomplishment was being born to the right parents, own more wealth than 40% of the rest of the country. Is that the outcome of a system organized by any moral principles?

              Yes. Strong moral principles. The only consistent moral principles for guiding an economy.

              Almost as if this ideology exists solely to justify keeping wealth where it is, and transferring more upward when feasible.

              I’m sorry you don’t like the outcome of applying consistent moral principles, but if morality were easy, we wouldn’t need to talk about.

              You, on the other hand, are replacing envy and greed for morality. Like all socialists.

          2. The power to determine who deserves what.

          3. “If portraying opponents of income inequality as people who want everyone to have the same income is a strawman, what exactly do opponents of income inequality want?”

            I guess I should have addressed my comment to you. Your using the term “opponents of income inequality” is disingenuous as that is really not the issue for the majority of citizens. That’s just another strawman comment.

            I will repeat what I have already stated:

            “It is asinine to think that people think everyone should have an equal income. All most want is a decent living wage, and yeah, some decent benefits so one can enjoy that living. To think that people actually expect the Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffett’s of the world to split their money among us IS a ridiculous strawman.”

            Unfortunately it does take a moral society to attain such a thing – altruism within the “haves” – and that is something we will never see.

            As far as legislating morality – no, that’s probably not going to happen. But when you see the “haves” fight against unionization and doing their utmost to enact RTW states, then I think it becomes a problem. Especially when you have government helping the promoters of RTW.

        3. 93% of workplace deaths are men- should the Gov’t just start killing random women to eliminate this disparity?

          You are dumber than a box of rocks.

        4. Tony – this is one of my grievances – thank you for stating it.

          It is asinine to think that people think everyone should have an equal income. All most want is a decent living wage, and yeah, some decent benefits so one can enjoy that living. To think that people actually expect the Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffett’s of the world to split their money among us IS a ridiculous strawman.

    2. They should be celebrated for the jobs they have created and the changes they have brought to the world

      That is part of what made America exceptional. Because that kind of thinking is the exception. Not anymore. Now we’re just like the rest of the world. Before too long we will be just as stagnant, because the engine that drives innovation is the celebration of accomplishment. When accomplishment is something to be suspect of, or downright hostile to, you get less of it. You didn’t build that…

  11. >>>Income inequality in the United States

    snore.

    1. The most honest comment here, including the article.

      You just don’t give a fuck, probably because it takes too much energy to think about. The better to fleece you, of course.

      1. >>>You just don’t give a fuck

        upon this, we agree. your income is not my business.

        1. The macro reality of income and wealth distribution should be, if you care about the well-being of your society.

          1. society’s fine. find some joy, dude…celebrate what would have been Jerry Garcia’s 75th birthday today at the very least

            1. I’m fine too, but if you want to not talk about things, why are you on a political message board?

              1. are we not conversing?

                i’m not rabbit-holing about your concern for those who have so much, and yet complain that the so much is not in dollar-form and it’s my business to convert it to dollar form for them. no gracias.

          2. My “society” consists of me. Why would I want to be connected to people that watch the Kardashians or “Survivor”?

          3. The macro reality of income and wealth distribution should be, if you care about the well-being of your society.

            If you care about the welfare of your society, you stop preaching redistribution, fairness, and socialism, because any of those are highly destructive of society and its well-being.

      2. This may come as a shock to an Oklahoma yokel, but some of us are actually in the societal outlier, top 1% talent and income, and we realize that a lot the prevailing progressive stories of the rich are primarily self-serving morality tale coping mechanisms, and we have nothing to gain from abstract income inequality hand wringing.

        When it starts to improve your life, let me know.

        1. You have absolutely no friends, do you?

          1. I have no friends, and I have no amount of self reflection, either.

            1. Is that a trait of psychopathy? I forget.

              1. You don’t have to be a licensed psychiatrist to spot projection.

                But you do have to have some amount of intelligence to spot sarcasm, I hear.

            2. funny, especially from a 1%er

  12. Maybe some day when the pig-men roam free, we will finally have peace in our land.

  13. Hate Income Inequality?

    No more than i do “being able to dunk a basketball“-inequality, or “Calculate matrix eigenvectors“-inequality

    What a stupid question.

    some people earn more because they can do more (or do better). That ‘more/better’ is a consequence of both greater natural ability and greater effort.

    Envy of other’s ability/work-ethic is understandable, but “hate” is downright stupid

    1. The people who hate “income inequality” don’t believe in greater natural ability and they don’t value greater effort. So naturally they think it’s unfair that there are rich people. Yeah, it’s madness.

      1. When you describe it in that ridiculous way nobody actually has ever believed, sure.

        Some of us just think that human beings not starving or stagnating in ignorance and poor health is more important than ordering society according to some snake-oil salesman’s arbitrary measure of worth (that has devolved into “if you have more money, you’re better!”).

        1. Speaking of strawman arguments…

        2. Some of us just think that human beings not starving or stagnating in ignorance and poor health is more important

          Then why does your side create more of them? If you actually gave a s–t about them (and I don’t believe that for a second, unless you’re a priest or some other saintly type, because that is not human nature) then you would support policies that allowed more people to help themselves, not treat them like cattle who need your supreme benificence.

          1. A society with more social services is one in which people are better able to do with their lives what they please. Your conception of “freedom” leaves probably the vast majority of people “free” to scrape for basic needs, forestalling any higher ambitions for their entire lives.

            And it is not a strawman to say you think a few extra dollars in the offshore account of a wealthy person is more important to overall freedom than attending to those basic needs, as it is the premise of your preferred social order. I just think you need to consider what freedom actually means.

            1. “Freedom” means letting people make their own decisions, not you telling them what to do. Also, your lack of faith in “the vast majority of people” to even lift themselves out of the muck without all those glorious “social services” you praise speaks volumes. You really dislike humanity don’t you? You certainly haven’t the first clue how it actually operates.

              1. Well we’re always going to have taxes and civilization (if we’re lucky), so your very sincere optimism in the human spirit amounts to favoring any and all tax cuts for the wealthy and cutting of any communal obligations that might aid the poor. The perverse thing is, this isn’t even ideologically consistent. You simply get around that pesky fact by naming “freedom” whatever policy it is that gives more to the rich and naming “socialism” whatever gives to the poor. You’re actively beating on the poor and then claiming I don’t have enough faith in their perseverance. How noble.

                1. There is no “communal obligation” towards “the poor” other than removing obstacles put in place by people like you who acquire power by ensuring there are lots of poor people around. Unlike you, I have faith in “the poor” making themselves not poor. Your policies keep them poor, because you believe they don’t have the capability to better themselves so why bother trying.

                  1. I’m only looking at the real world, where poverty is most people’s natural state and the looting of the world is the pastime of a few lucky enough to be born to parents who had the means to do such looting too.

                    You aren’t an anarchist, so you favor taxing and spending to provide for some communal services. It’s just that you favor those that protect the luxuries of the rich while disfavor any that address the basic needs of the poor.

                    And you justify this with fairy tale nonsense about how starving and having no access to healthcare doesn’t actually hinder a person’s ability to become a CEO.

                    1. I’m only looking at the real world, where poverty is most people’s natural state and the looting of the world is the pastime of a few lucky enough to be born to parents who had the means to do such looting too.

                      Those who “loot the world” as you put it can’t get rich without customers. They must sell their wares. Those who they sell their goods and services to are a little bit richer for it. They’re better off than they were before. That “looter” might become fantastically rich, but only because of all that wealth that was doled out in small increments to many, many people.

                      Show me someone who became fabulously rich in the free market and I will show you thousands or even millions of people who became a little bit richer, and who are, on aggregate, just as rich as the free marketer.

                    2. If you spent any significant time around poor people you’d know that’s utter horse shit. Poor people are poor mainly because they make bad decisions. The main reason wealth is hereditary is because innate intelligence and good decision making skills tend to be passed on from parent to child.

                      The whole ‘poor people are poor and rich people are rich because the rich are looting the poor people’s pantries’ is so dumb even you cantbpossible believe it.

                2. communal obligations

                  There are no communal obligations. The current American welfare state is unconstitutional.

                  favoring any and all tax cuts for the wealthy everyone

                  Idk about anyone else here, but I favor tax cuts for everyone because freedom and you have no right to my justly acquired property.

            2. do with their lives what they please

              Yes everyone should be able to do as they please…as long as they do not harm others or the property of others (which includes but is not limited to theft at gunpoint). We just want you to put down the gun, Tony.

              1. So no taxes at all are permitted, right? Even the ones that pay for the law and order that permit you to keep property? Or is it somehow OK to steal from me for that?

                1. So no taxes at all are permitted, right?

                  Try to keep up. I, myself, am a minarchist. I believe in having government and funding said government with taxes. I do NOT believe direct and redistributory taxes on property because it is antithetical to individual freedom and it is not in the legitimate purview of government to coddle you from cradle to grave while holding someone else at gunpoint to fund your existence.

                  1. All taxation results in redistribution. So we merely have policy differences. Glad to clear that up so that we can dispense with all the fucking congratulations you people keep giving to yourselves. It makes normal people wince.

                    Just defend your minarchist policy platform on its merits, i.e., why it’s good for people, and stop telling me that I’m a thief because I prefer a somewhat different arrangement.

                    1. All taxation results in redistribution. So we merely have policy differences.

                      No.

                      Taxation results in two things. Paying people who work in government, and redistribution.

                      Libertarians for the most part resign themselves to the need for people being employed by government to use force when justified.

                      Other than that…

                    2. Government is bad because it is violence, thus it should be limited to doing only those things that require beating, shooting, and/or imprisoning people.

                      Libertarianism!

                    3. Close.

                      Government is bad because it is violence, thus it should be limited to doing only those things that require justify beating, shooting, and/or imprisoning people.

                      ftfy

                      yw

                    4. Violence is bad. Government is bad because it is violence. Thus government should be permitted to kill people, but not feed them.

                      Freedom!

                    5. Thus government should be permitted to kill people

                      Some libertarians, like myself, approve of death as a punishment for some crimes, but are skeptical of allowing an entity like a gov’t administer proper judgement. Therefor, no, I do not believe the gov’t should be allowed to sentence people to death as a penalty.

                      but not feed them.

                      The gov’t has no authority on the matter.

                    6. By kill people I mean most libertarians are OK with government sending armed goons to take people off your property by violent force if necessary. Heck most of you endorse government goons dragging gay people out of bakeries.

                      The government does have authority on the matter. That’s simply a matter of fact. You may not want it to, but thank god you did’t get your way.

                    7. Nobody said violence is bad. Only that for society to function we need to refrain from initiating violence on others. However if someone initiates violence, then reacting with violence is honky dory.

                      Using violence or the threat of violence to feed people? Not the same thing.

                    8. Government is bad because it is violence, thus it should be limited to doing only those things that require beating, shooting, and/or imprisoning people.

                      Libertarianism!

                      T, I don’t think words mean what you think they mean.

                    9. All taxation results in redistribution.

                      No, it doesn’t. There are legitimate taxes that fund legitimate gov’t functions. Then there is stealing from the productive to give to the parasites.

                      T, you can’t even grasp the difference between an excise tax and a direct tax on income or other property. I think we are done here.

                    10. “I think we are done here” twice in one thread. I must be arguing well today.

                    11. “arguing well”: those are definitely words.

                      That would make the most sense if we’re measuring by compulsiveness, volume, and shrill whining.

            3. A society in which you pay 50%+ of your income in taxes, gives you the freedom to do with your life as you please.

            4. A society with more social services is one in which people are better able to do with their lives what they please.

              Watch Oprah and Jerry Spinger all day.

            5. A society with more social services is one in which people are better able to do with their lives what they please.

              Watch Oprah and Jerry Spinger all day.

        3. Some of us just think that human beings not starving or stagnating in ignorance and poor health is more important

          I will not stand in your way of feeding and doctoring them…

          1. Good, because I intend to stand in your way of pursuing active policy that redistributes wealth upward.

            1. policy that redistributes wealth upward

              Stadium subsidies? Campaign finance?

              1. democracy douchers…and probably TARP

              2. Mostly deficit-financed tax cuts.

                1. Mostly deficit-financed tax cuts.

                  When people keep what is theirs, they are in fact stealing from those who have nothing to steal.

                2. Mostly deficit-financed tax cuts.

                  So, money that I earned but which you believe belongs to someone else? Thought so.

                  1. If it is in the hands of the government treasury, it does not belong to you. By your formulation (not mine), a tax cut is you stealing from everyone else.

                    1. If it is in the hands of the government treasury, it does not belong to you.

                      A tax cut means that it never makes it into the government treasury. It stays with the person who actually earned it.

                    2. And there it is folks. All money belongs to the government except that which they choose in their wisdom to bestow upon us, if we’re good.

                      It’s been fun playing retard with you but I must move on now.

                    3. Some money belongs to the government, surely. Are you or are you not an anarchist?

                    4. If it is in the hands of the government treasury, it does not belong to you.

                      I wonder how it gets to the government treasury in the first place…

                      a tax cut is you stealing from everyone else.

                      Being allowed to keep more of my justly acquired property (as opposed to having it taken from me at gunpoint) means I am stealing?

                    5. It’s not your property. It’s not property at all, it’s dollars. And it doesn’t belong to you after it’s taken as taxes. If you don’t think it’s OK to tax people at all, just say you’re an anarchist and we can treat you like the insane person you’d thus be.

              3. Tony doesn’t understand that wealth is created. So when someone creates wealth, Tony assumes that it was stolen. When someone creates wealth, and keeps a portion of it becoming rich, while making others a little more wealthy in the process (Microsoft, Apple, WalMart, etc) Tony’s brain breaks. He feels that that wealth was distributed upward by the government. That libertarians somehow took control of the government’s wealth distribution machine and gave too much to the wrong people. Or something. I dunno. My IQ drops twenty points whenever I try to think on his level.

            2. How’s that working out for you?

            3. I intend to fight the good fight against radical republicans and libertarians!

              And that mostly consists of impotent bitching!

              FREEDOM!

        4. And you’ve switched the argument away from abstract income inequality hand wringing, and focused it squarely on people’s basic need satisfaction, instead.

          Which is conceding the point, more or less.

  14. The left will never understand that. In the Bay Area, housing is ridiculous, and it is mostly government’s fault. They don’t allow most new construction, set ridiculous zoning policies, set ridiculous environmental standards that add considerably to the cost of the house, etc…. Tl/DR: Demand goes up and Supply doesn’t. I’m a freakin’ IT Manager and I’m nowhere close to buying a house 😐

    1. And of course the most NIMBY, “preserved” neighborhoods are the ones that are the most “progressive”, by a long shot.

    2. Tl/DR: Demand goes up and Supply doesn’t. I’m a freakin’ IT Manager and I’m nowhere close to buying a house 😐

      Am I wrong or hasn’t the Bay Area been overpriced for like 50 yrs. now? Certainly for at least the last 20-30.

      Also, I’m sure I don’t know the specifics of your role as IT Manager, but it seems odd that are you required to show up at the mines, shovel in hand, every day.

      I don’t disagree that the government causes problems, but it sounds distinctly like you’re specifically blaming them because you (and your cohort) all want something that is intrinsically scarce (or even only want it because it is scarce).

      1. you (and your cohort) all want something that is intrinsically scarce

        There’s nothing “intrinsic” to zoning laws that prevent buildings above a certain height/capacity

      2. The bay area has been overpriced, no argument there.

        Not sure how you inferred anything about showing in in the mines everyday.

        And yes, I’m blaming government, and the NIMBY crowd, for creating this situation. Existing property owners have used the government to artificially limit supply, so their property values go up. My lefty friends complain about housing too, but they are the ones to support these ridiculous policies, then they blame “income equality” and “greed” and “capitalism” for why they can’t afford a house.

      3. Depends what you mean by “overpriced”. There is a limited supply of something that a great many people desire. Hence the high prices.

  15. Only one thing matters when analyzing income:

    How did the person earn it?
    Via the free exchange of value between free persons, or..
    Through crony schemes using state force to acquire that which isn’t earned.

  16. Income inequality comes from the division of labor and our different skill sets as humans. It’s a great thing and it’s clear evidence of a functioning economy.

    I realize that government intervention can affect the degree, but the premise of this article is retarded. Am i supposed to go to my libtard friends and pretend inequality is bad so i can make a fleeting point about gov’t overreach? Give up the entire game to score a point?

    Let’s think a little deeper. Use…what’s it called? Reason?

  17. This is funny, given this magazine’s fondness for regulations that they like.

      1. When paragons of wisdom like damikesc make declarations, the burden of proof is on you to refute them.

  18. Don’t like income inequality? Don’t be such a pussy.

    1. Carpe Pussy

  19. Income inequality means the rich don’t pay their fair share. How do we know that they haven’t paid their fair share? They’re rich! Duh! As long as they are rich then they will not have paid their fair share! Only when their wealth has been confiscated by force and distributed based upon political considerations will they have finally paid their fair share. So what if they are no longer creating goods, services, jobs, and wealth? Fairness is what matters. Concentrated wealth is not fair. So it is the duty of the government to destroy that wealth. Damn the consequences.

    1. You have almost the verbal dexterity of the president of the united states.

      1. You made a dull ad hominem against me. Hooray for you.

        Do you have any response to the content of my comment?

        1. Simple-minded strawman, typical kindergarten econ 101 assumption that all of economics is explained in econ 101 (day 1). What content?

          1. Econ 101 is the foundation upon which econ 404 is built.

            Sometimes the simple answer is the right one. More often than not it is the correct answer. People who make answers complicated are usually hiding something, or otherwise being dishonest.

            1. You think the global or national economy in 2017 is not a complex thing?

              1. Infinitely complex. Too complex for any one person to fathom. Too complex for any group of people to direct. Billions of decisions being made every minute. Amazing.

                Yet it still functions by basic rules. Rules like supply and demand for example.

                And yes it needs some rule enforcement. Like property and contracts. But that’s about it.

                But to think the government can direct or control the global or national economy is just plain arrogant.

                1. So it’s infinitely complex, too complex for mere mortals to comprehend, but the best possible approach to it is a bare-bones simplistic policy. Not only that, but the resulting outcomes are by definition constituent of the best possible world.

                  Sounds like market worship rather than using the market as the tool that it is to generate human well-being. Why should I or anyone else subscribe to such a dour and stupid religion?

                  1. So it’s infinitely complex, too complex for mere mortals to comprehend, but the best possible approach to it is a bare-bones simplistic policy.

                    The reason it is to be approached with simplistic policy is because doing otherwise presumes a level of knowledge that is unattainable. It is arrogant.

                    Sounds like market worship

                    I call it humility.

                    rather than using the market as the tool that it is to generate human well-being.

                    I call that arrogance.

                    Why should I or anyone else subscribe to such a dour and stupid religion?

                    It’s not a religion. There is no faith. You are the religious one. You believe that your god government can, with force, shape the world into something better.

                    Free market “ideology” is more akin to atheism. We don’t believe that some hand moves the economy. No. We are humble enough to see that the economy is in fact billions of people interacting with each other, and that we have no business in telling them what to do.

                    1. Humility, that’s a good one. All you are saying is that the extent to which you personally understand economics is exactly the actual scope of economics.

                      All I know about cars is that they go zoom zoom. Thus, what makes cars go is the sound zoom zoom.

                    2. Um, no.

                      It’s called the knowledge problem.

                      We can design cars and predict how they will work because the parts are pieces of metal and plastic that do what we want them to do.

                      The economy is a machine built of billions of individual people making choices in their own self interest.

                      To compare the two is asinine. To presume to understand the latter is the height of arrogance.

                    3. But you’re saying that not only are you smarter about economics than Janet Yellen and Alan Greenspan alike, but also the vast majority of working economists in the world. Not only that, but you’re smarter to a degree roughly equal to an Einsteinian level of insight.

                      But then you also claim to be smarter than the entire global body of climate scientists–on climate science.

                      What a waste of monumental genius to be spending time commenting on the internet.

                    4. But you’re saying that not only are you smarter about economics than Janet Yellen and Alan Greenspan alike, but also the vast majority of working economists in the world.

                      Um, no. They possess the same knowledge problem. Smarts don’t matter.

                      Not only that, but you’re smarter to a degree roughly equal to an Einsteinian level of insight.

                      Hayek. Not Einstein. He was into physics.

                      What a waste of monumental genius to be spending time commenting on the internet.

                      You should be grateful that I show you my patience.

                    5. Play a game where you pretend Hayek might be wrong about everything. Then go read some other books.

                    6. Now, now, Tony: fair is fair.

                      If you’re allowed to recycle the same silly arguments for year after year, then I don’t see why sarcasmic can’t refer to Hayek.

                    7. Why are you guys wasting your time on this fucking moron? It really is too stupid to breathe…..Idiot Wind, thy name is Tony.

                2. Rules like supply and demand for example.

                  And incentive. People operate off of incentives. I have no incentive to produce anything if people like Tony are just going to use the govt’s guns to steal it.

                3. But to think the government can direct or control the global or national economy is just plain arrogant.

                  this should be the title.

  20. Hate Income Inequality?

    No.

    involuntary part-time workers

    Well, if you have to be a slave, best it be only part-time.

  21. The go-getters you need to be watching out for in business are not the children of the rich. They’re a bunch of lazy bums. The one’s to look out for are the children of the poor!

  22. This is the part when Tony runs away with his tail between his legs, only to return and skull-fuck every eye-socket after anyone who may respond is long gone.

  23. Does anyone worry about monopolies any more? It’s easy to push up prices and crowd out new entrepreneurs if you are the only supplier. Here’s a pointer:

    http://theweek.com/articles/714716/new-monopolies

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    1. Looky that! ammythomas has the answer to income inequality.

  25. Listen, I get it: I make money. Some people think that’s unfair. That my income is too “unequal”. I get it.

    Thing is, the world is unequal in a lot of ways.

    For example, I didn’t spend my adult education pretending to be some kind of artist, just so I could be a barista all day. If you want me to make that up to, find, but, could you at least make me a painting, or write me a book, etc? Possibly something that doesn’t suck? Apparently, it’s your life’s passion (or something).

    Or, could you serve coffee and pay for me to fool around at an art school for 4-6 years? I always thought it would be fun, when I retire, to go into metal sculpting or something. Can I do that now, while you pay for it, so we can have some “equality”?

    And what about jacking off time? It turns out that being in the top 1% is actually somewhat busy and hectic. I didn’t really get a lot of jacking off time, even going back to my childhood. Can I get an equal distribution of jacking off time, while you pay for it, before I start making up my income inequality to you? That would be great. You know: fairness and all.

  26. So a Federal Reserve wonk just can’t figure out what her employer is doing to create the problem. And a Reason writer studiously ignores that too. And apparently so do most commenters.

    I mean seriously. Not ONE fucking comment about the TRILLIONS in subsidies over the last decade to those with financial assets at the direct expense (since there is no such thing as a free lunch) of those who don’t have financial assets.

    Golly. What a mystery this is.

  27. This is utter garrbage

  28. I’m not an envious person like Comrade Bernie. Spend your money as you see fit.

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  30. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Michigan primary and for Jill Stein in the general election. I’m proud of both votes, and wouldn’t change either one. But your article raises an interesting point. There are many areas where government policies and restrictions work against progressive values. It would be a good idea for progressives and libertarians to work together in those areas. I think it can be done, and we could probably help a lot of people. Progressive politics isn’t about enhancing government. It’s about enhancing people’s lives.

    1. Whose lives get enhanced when you vote for someone you know for a fact can’t possibly do anything about anything because she can’t possibly win? I can think of one: you get to feel mildly good about yourself for a while. Who else?

      1. That will be a great point, just as soon as you show me which election you voted in, where the outcome would have turned out differently, had you done something else.

        I’ve challenged you on this multiple times, but you always refuse to answer that challenge, and I’m pretty sure I understand why.

        1. That person said he or she was in Michigan. (!)

          1. That would a great point, if it mattered.

            The question is, essentially, who have you helped with your votes? And reality says: no one.

            Heck, in the last election, you might as well have voted for Trump and whined incessantly about how awesome he is. Even if you lived in Michigan.

            Pretend games are best left to children, and if you’re going to masturbate, you should at least know you’re doing it.

            I’m not sure why you’re giving DRees such a hard time: it’s not like you’re accomplishing more.

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