Saturday, November 19, 2011


To me, whether inequality is a problem/evil/worthy target of policy depends on how we reached that inequality.

For example, if the real incomes of bottom 20% were growing at 4% per year while the real incomes of the top 20% were growing at 6% per year, we would eventually arrive at a very unequal society. However, to my mind, it would not be a problem or a legitimate target of policy because the bottom quintile would be doing pretty well in an absolute sense.

Another way to say this is that I don't think policy in our current situation should be addressed at reducing inequality, I think it should be addressed at increasing opportunities for the group of people that are not doing well.

Another way to say this is that I'm not troubled by the super-rich, I'm troubled by the persistently high unemployment rates for people with limited education levels.

I could probably sign on to celebrate income inequality; but at the same time, I am very worried about the absolutely poor income trends for the bottom quintile.

It's just not obvious to me that taxing millionaires will help the job and earnings prospect of low skilled workers.

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