Guest OpEd: The Root Of the Income Inequality Debate

When looking at income and wealth disparity, the focus tends to be on the wealthy. That's wrong.

Opinion / Editorial

Income and wealth inequality is going to be something talked about a lot in the coming months.  There’s no way around that at this point.  However, many people may ask where this whole debate came from, why IS IT A “thing” now?

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the terms, income inequality is basically the difference between what the top one percent of wage earners makes and, well, everyone else.  Wealth inequality is essentially the same idea, only applied to net worth rather than income.

The argument is that wealth is concentrated in too few hands, and that society would be better served by it being spread out more.

That may be true, but the focus on the very wealthy belies the real focus in this whole debate, and it has nothing to do with the plight of the poor.  Not really.

The whole debate is about Washington elites using people’s petty jealousy as a tool to get elected.

Don’t believe me?  How many times have you heard some variation on, “You don’t get that rich without screwing someone over somewhere along the line”?

Politicians, often millionaires in their own right, and their political action arms complain loudly about the one percent.  Occupy Wall Street famously spent weeks encamped in New York City complaining about them too.  Their sister movements throughout the nation did the same.

The arguments, however, aren’t about the poor.  They’re not about the middle class either.  Not really.

It all boils down to “They have it and we don’t” and nothing more.  The rich have money, and it inflames some people that they have so much.  It infuriates them that someone has so many houses, so many cars, etc.

To which I ask, “So what?”

When looking at income and wealth disparity, the focus tends to be on the wealthy.  That’s wrong.  Taking down the wealthy accomplishes nothing.  The poor aren’t equipped to seize the vacuum left by them, and free stuff from the government won’t make them wealthy either.  Frankly, nothing is being proposed that will do a thing except get politicians elected by trading on the electorate’s jealousy.

If they were serious, they’d look at those wealthy and say, “They have too much of a percentage, so we need to dilute the pool.”  By helping the poor develop real wealth themselves, they can do that without ever touching a penny belonging to the one percent.

It’s not about what Bill Gates or Warren Buffet have, but what the poor don’t have.  The truth is, if you seized every dime and distributed it equally to each American, within a generation we’d probably be right back where we started from.  Those with wealth understand how to get it, while the average American doesn’t.  It’s just that simple.

Creating wealth can’t be done by government fiat.  The politicians complaining the most loudly about income inequality know this. That’s why they’re seeking to bring down the wealthy, rather than build up the poor.  Building up the poor is hard.  Some will never make it because they lack the will, or the ability, or because of a thousand different reasons.  Yet, it would have far more lasting consequences if you gave them the knowledge to build themselves up.

However, all the real solutions for closing the wage gap require individuals to do for themselves, and for some politicians, that’s just not going to work because the individual is never the solution for them.

While the elites are pitting us against one another, claiming we should take down the mighty, they do nothing to empower the individual.  Instead, they perpetuate the petty jealousy that has inflamed people.  On the surface, it’s ridiculous.

Ask yourself, do you need to be as rich as Bill Gates to make you and your family comfortable?  Do you need private planes and homes in exotic locations to be happy?

Probably not.

Now, ask yourself what is really stopping you from being comfortable?  It’s not the rich.  They understand well enough that you being better off is good for them, since you can buy more stuff and make them wealthier.  They don’t benefit by keeping you broke.

The reality is, 99 times out of 100, the person holding you back is you.  This is especially true when your focus is on what others can and should do rather than what you can and should do.

In this country, anyone can be successful.  Anyone can be comfortable.  Not everyone can be the CEO and make $5 million a year, but so what?  It’s not about them, it’s about you.  Put the jealousy away and take care of your own house.

Trust me, you’ll be happier for it.

Opinion / Editorial

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1 comment

  1. cargosquid Reply

    Well said.

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