Friday, October 01, 2004
The "Wealth Gap;" The Left's Favorite Non-Issue
Another person (assuming you live in a free and open system) is making $3,000 per month. Maybe they're a business person, teacher, or department manager. Chances are, they made some choices that led them to their current, rather average income, they're likely older and more experienced and at least completed high school if not college. They've also, through time, likely established themselves with a record of responsibility, competence, and reliability.
Now,...you get a 10% raise. You are now earning $1,100 per month -- a hundred dollars more than before. The middle class drone also scored a 10% raise and now makes $3,300. That means they're now getting $300 [!] dollars more than they had previously. The "wealth gap" between you has just increased considerably -- how "unfair!"
What can we now do "as a society" to rectify this "injustice." The Socialist solution is obvious and typical -- punish the more successful person for the decisions they made that led them to their more fortunate economic condition. Take (confiscate) more of their money, or better yet, make it impossible for them to have gained it in the first place. The more they succeed, the more they must be punished (reeducation camps anyone?).
Of course even this isolated scenario fails to account for the fact that each of the two examples described will make other decision that will place them in other jobs and other career paths at other times in their lives. Some of their jobs will likely be of limited long term value, some will be fulfilling. They may decide to take a year off after college and go backpacking in Europe (thus showing up as "unemployed" in government statistics).
For most people, circumstance will be marked by considerable change with age and a reasonably increased learning curve over time that helps them to improve their career options. Even at a low paying service job, if the worker is reasonably efficient, dependable, and honest, they're likely to be bribed into greater responsibility with greater pay or benefits or, just as likely, to take their product (their quality of labor) to a higher bidder (another employer).
The reality behind these scenarios is the reality of an open system which is dynamic and forever offering continued change in a population of diverse circumstance, talents, and goals. For most people over time this means continued advancement, as has been the case in the United States. As this progress occurs, the "wealth gap" often increases. The same process takes place on an international scale (and is pointed to equally as an "injustice" by the Left). The tyrannies and highly regulated bureau-states of the world (that produce little, if anything) are inevitably poor. Typically, the more controlled, the more destitute. Meanwhile, free systems continue to progress and create new wealth and higher standards of living. The economic progress made possible by sound political/economic policy and systems of government, create a "wealth gap" when measured to the static systems of oppression and self-imposed poverty. Some systems actually decline in economic vitality after "choosing" the anti-capitalist road to squalor (i.e. Zimbabwe). Of course an un-free society is typically not chosen but imposed by collectivist / statist demagogues. When highly productive and unproductive people or societies are compared there will always be a wealth gap and any progress made by the already productive will cause the gap to increase.
Another confused demand in the Leftist rant is that, "A living wage" should be paid for non-living wage jobs. A person who stocks shelves should be paid as much as an electrician, teacher, or doctor. In the real world, it would be ridiculous and unaffordable to pay shelf stockers the same wage as electricians which is why, in communist countries, shelves go unstocked and there's a shortage of electricians and doctors. People in an honest economic context are naturally willing to pay more for electricians and doctors.
The inanity of the entire socialist worldview rests in its belief that they can actually outlaw economic reality. The market's "law of supply and demand" is seen as cold and "uncaring" in the socialist fantasy world, but then again, gravity and the speed of light are probably so as well.
We've been told for at least the last hundred years that, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." Of course, if that were actually true then America by now would be a poor country on par with the failed states that socialism has riddled the planet with -- and 97% of America's "poor" citizens wouldn't own color televisions (as they do). In the real world of the capitalist economy, where many twelve year olds have their own computers and cell phones, (things that didn't even exist thirty years ago) and the great majority perpetually increase their standard of living, the fact that some become very rich is ultimately irrelevant unless envy is your only criterion for analysis. If so many citizens were so "poor" as we are often told, they couldn't afford to purchase the products that make the producers rich. It is not an increasingly poorer population crying out from the bottom of their "wealth gap," that purchases the Microsoft products that make Bill Gates rich.
In a world where almost everyone was a millionaire, the typical Leftist would still decry the "injustice' of the few who were billionaires. If the billionaires made a million more we'd hear of a dreaded "increase in the wealth gap."
We've been conditioned to a spontaneous reaction of shock when hearing that the "gap between rich and poor" has increased. In the Leftist ideologue's eyes, it's "not fair" that improvement and success occur for some while others are moving more slowly. Its like someone demanding that they be allowed to get in front of you so they can merely move slow or stop completely. The socialist is more than happy to clog the traffic of commerce and progress, anything but keeping the lanes open for everyone.
Life has continually improved in those countries that are socially and economically free (an honest appraisal of every condition of modern life bares this out) yet, the conniving charlatans of socialist statism continually whine in horror about a gap in wealth.
"Progressives" hate progress, which is why they so often sympathize with the tyranny that brings conformity, stasis, and destitution. The biggest "gap" of our time is one of basic economic common sense...and the gap between the ears of armchair philosophers -- the jealous closet tyrants of statism.
"The wealth gap has increased" ...so!
Refuse a raise, quit college, quit your job, return to the cave, brag of your concern for "justice" and help drag civilization back into the stone age...then, call yourself a "Progressive" who cares about meaningless things like an increase in the gap between rich and poor.