Income inequality used to be a fact of life and not being poor was a goal. Now it’s a right funded by our government. Upward mobility used to be a goal, too, and a value we took pride in. It’s hard to be proud of something others do for you, though, especially when they are paying the bill. Upward mobility no longer has anything to do with our bootstraps, especially for Americans assured that their failure to succeed is the fault of those who have done better.
Does this erase income inequality?
The election year push is on to fix income inequality once and for all because handouts and giveaways are about all the Democratic Party has to offer. The White House has worked hard to spread the anti-American myth of fundamental unfairness. We have heard about America’s bargain with the people. We’ve been told about the struggle to make it into the middle class and recently about the frustrations of those the president fears can’t make it in this country:
It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were.¹
The targets of Obama’s income inequality propaganda who believe what they hear will stay poor. Nothing ensures the failure of upward mobility like swapping initiative with income support, whether it be government assistance paid for by taxpayers or guaranteed middle class incomes extracted from the private sector.
Is income inequality about being poor or spending tax dollars?
Democrats celebrated the anniversary of the War on Poverty last week. Nancy Pelosi used the occasion to justify all manner of public assistance, whether or not it had anything to do with being poor:
On the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, we must renew our commitment to rooting out poverty in America. It is time to restore emergency unemployment insurance for the more than 1.3 million Americans still searching for work who were cut off from this critical lifeline right in the middle of the holidays. It is time to create jobs and restore fairness for the hard working men and women of America by raising the minimum wage.²
An ever-expanding list of government programs said to be necessary because of a still- floundering economy includes emergency unemployment, food stamps, minimum wage hikes, grants for promise neighborhoods, and the expansion of Medicaid. Fairness and income inequality are the arguments of choice because showing up at the taxpayers’ door with a grimy hand extended doesn’t play very well, even to liberals foolish enough to believe that not raising taxes causes poverty. It’s better to argue fairness first and worry about how to fund it later. We were better off when the fix for being poor was the fear of being poor. At least those who were successful had something to be proud of.
Updated June 11, 2016: link text revised.