Monday, December 21, 2015

More on economic inequality, book review

My thoughts:  Economic inequality is not just a problem of the poor.  The middle class is feeling it big time, and, according to many theories, a strong middle class which views its democracy as legitimate is a prerequisite to stable democratic government.  We must be careful not to interfere with constitutional rights when dealing with II.  The deck is stacked by government policies of all types in favor of the top of the economic ladder. It doesn't have to be this way.  Let's readjust the stack (see end of post).  Is this a government that will share the benefit of lasting or deserved legitimacy?
Anarcho-capitalists and free-market extremists will howl.  However, the only thing they have to offer is the rich and powerful exploiting, if not enslaving, those below.

The NYT Book Review includes brief reviews of 5 books taking different perspectives on the income inequality (II) issue.  Excerpts follow with my comments in [ ].


He grants that economic disparities that result from corrupt, coercive, anti-competitive or criminal transactions [and other government policies which serve only special, affluent segments] are “bad,” but he maintains that a great many others result from voluntary transactions that benefit all parties involved and are “good.” Still other economic disparities, like those that arise as byproducts of demographic changes, are neutral. For example: The growing tendency for wealthy people to marry other wealthy people —[Personal choices and constitutionally protected rights should not be regulated in the name of II} . . .


Democrats, as we know, use higher taxes to fund programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which serve society’s poor and vulnerable. That is the public welfare state. But Republicans do much the same thing in the service of a private welfare state: They use tax breaks to subsidize employer-sponsored 401(k) plans and employer-sponsored health insurance, which serve the better-off. Faricy observes that tax breaks, logically speaking, are just government spending in another guise (both cost the government money), and that programs like the 529 college savings account, which is supported by such a tax break, are welfare programs for rich families. (About 70 percent of that program’s benefits go to households making more than $200,000 a year, costing the government $1 billion over the next decade.) . . .


the political theorist Clement Fatovic argues that a concern with economic inequality has deep roots in the establishment of the United States. Tea Party heroes like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, far from seeing government promotion of economic equality as inherently at odds with individual liberty, often considered greater equality to be a precondition for liberty, a view that influenced such proposals as free public schools and a more progressive tax system.


For Faricy, the real question is not some fanciful speculation about whether you can tolerate a welfare state that hampers your freedom, but rather a matter of which of these two welfare states you want: the one that spends public money to increase economic inequality, or the one that spends public money to reduce it.”[Let’s decrease federal and state regulation by eliminating that which favors the fortunate and reduce it to that which truly protects the nation and helps with the II problem.  I bet the net result would be less regulation]

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