Income inequality

The Causes of Income Inequality, Revealed

Featured image In 1995, Scott and I wrote a paper titled The Truth About Income Inequality, which was published by Center of the American Experiment, the organization I now lead. It got quite a bit of national attention, and I subsequently debated Congressman Martin Sabo, who then represented Minneapolis, on the subject at a Center-sponsored event that was televised by C-SPAN. That paper looked at the issue of income inequality from a »

Who is “ruining America”?

Featured image This David Brooks column called “How We Are Ruining America” has received lots of attention on the internet, but I don’t think we have commented on it. According to Brooks, members of the college-educated upper middle class — the top 20 percent or so — are ruining America by making sure their kids have good opportunities and, supposedly, making sure that kids from lower classes don’t get them. Brooks says »

Washington Post makes wild claim about Trump’s budget

Featured image “President’s plan could stretch nation’s income inequality to ‘extreme’ levels.” That’s the headline in the paper edition of the Washington Post of an article about President Trump’s proposed budget. Can a budget that cuts taxes and makes appreciable but relatively minor cuts in spending on giveaway programs really “stretch [the] nation’s inequality to ‘extreme’ levels”? I doubt it, and nothing in the Post’s story supports such a claim. To assess »

Do Liberals Notice That Their Goals Are Contradictory?

Featured image At National Review, Reihan Salam makes an important point, briefly and eloquently: If I had to identify the two issues that left-of-center American intellectuals care about most, I’d probably choose rising economic inequality in the United States and the threat posed by anthropogenic climate change. But the left–not the Democrats’ rank and file voters, but virtually all Democratic politicians and pundits–also favor major increases in immigration. Does that make any »

Scandiphilia and Income Inequality

Featured image Bernie Sanders channeled the id of liberalism with his deliberate shout out last night that we should “look at” Scandinavian welfare states, especially Denmark and Sweden. He probably doesn’t know that Sweden has lately made some significant cuts to its social spending programs. But why let facts get in the way of a religious narrative. More curious is that liberals always forget to mention that their beloved European welfare states »

A Dose of Reality for the Pope

Featured image I really don’t like Pope Francis. Some popes have been positive, world-historical figures, like John Paul II. Others have been clueless tag-alongs with the intellectual fashions of their time. I am afraid that Francis falls into the latter category. His hostility toward free enterprise is the fruit of ignorance, not holiness. His best defense is that as a citizen of Argentina, he has no experience of the benefits of free »

Black Income Decline in Minnesota Termed “Disgraceful”

Featured image As I noted here, just-released Census Bureau data show that real median household income declined slightly in 2014, while the poverty rate increased slightly. Median incomes for all racial groups except whites were stable, while white median household income declined by 1.7%. I have seen no comment on this fact; certainly no suggestion that the federal government is responsible for the decline or has pursued policies inimical to the interests »

The Green Energy Scam Exposed by . . . Berkeley!?!

Featured image The Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley has posted a working paper entitled “The Distributional Effects of U.S. Clean Energy Tax Credits.” The paper is a devastating indictment of who’s getting Cecil the Lion’s share of the tax credits. If this were any other cause than “green energy,” the Left would be screaming about the redistribution of income from the middle »

Scenes from the Reich

Featured image Last week we featured observations from Angelo Codevilla, author of The Ruling Class, on the deeper sources of Trump’s appeal, namely, that Trump is talking back to the ruling class in a way no other candidate can or will. Yesterday Robert Reich came in on the same theme from the left in the Christian Science Monitor, examining the appeal of Trump and Bernie Sanders: Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic »

Hillary’s Talking Points: Recycled From the 1990s

Featured image I don’t think we have written about Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the economy. She says we need economic growth, but the policies she advocates would suppress, not encourage, growth. That’s the bottom line. But a reader also pointed out a letter to the New York Times, as quoted in Cafe Hayek, that bears on Hillary’s fixation on the middle class: Eduardo Porter opens his column today by asking “Could »

The Telos of Liberalism: Your Children’s Bedtime Stories

Featured image The largest source of inequality today is the family, so it is not surprising that liberals obsessed with inequality have to control family life eventually, either by nationalizing children (Plato’s idea, only he was kidding), or by extending regulation to family matters. Think this is far-fetched? The Australian Broadcasting Company has found a philosopher named Adam Swift who thinks parents reading to their children helps increase inequality, and therefore we »

A Modest Proposal to Reduce “Inequality”

Featured image So Obama has had to abandon his plan to tax 529 college savings plans to pay for his “free” community college proposal, because lo and behold lots of middle class people are 529 savers.  But Republicans could still enable Obama to pay for this proposal with a tax that actually hits the genuine rich: a surtax on large private college endowments—say on all endowments that are more than something like »

Picking on Piketty, Part 5

Featured image We’ve noted the weaknesses of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century before (here, here, here, and here), but what the heck, with France ruining Piketty’s and Krugman’s Monday by cutting its high income surtax, we might as well note the latest torpedo aimed at Piketty. It comes from the website Capx (“for popular capitalism”), in a post entitled “Ten Truths About Income Inequality.” All ten are worth taking in, »

A book for all seasons

Featured image Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the book of the season. Published by Harvard University Press, it is a surprise best-seller. At the time of its publication earlier this year it neatly fit Obama’s theme of the moment on income inequality. Readers seem to have abandoned the book at page 26, as Obama seems to have abandoned the theme of income inequality. As the title of his book »

More Picking on Piketty

Featured image As John notes below, Thomas Piketty’s empirical work appears to be unraveling, and if not in fact fraudulently manipulated, it is at least highly contestable.  The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson wonders, where was Harvard University Press?  The answer is disconcerting: the book is simply making Harvard University Press too much money for them to care about accuracy.  Maybe Piketty should just re-render his findings in the shape of a hockey stick »

The “Rich” Are Everywhere

Featured image When Scott and I wrote “The Truth About Income Inequality,” one of the highlights of our pre-internet career, we emphasized the remarkable degree of income mobility that has long characterized the American economy. The rich man and the poor man, we argued, are largely the same man in different stages of life. In recent years, some have tried to show that income mobility has lessened, but longitudinal studies don’t support »

Marxist blues again

Featured image The visit of French economist Thomas Piketty to the United States has not quite induced Beatlemania, Scott Winship writes at Forbes, but rather the Washington analogue of teenage frenzy. In the New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler might lend credence to the Beatlemania that Winship disclaims. “Economist receives rock star treatment,” Schuessler reports. Indeed, you can see the frenzy through the New York Times alone. Yesterday’s Times brought us Ross Douthat’s »