Remedies for Income Gap Merit Debate
Markowitz, Jack, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
If you believe the numbers, the "income inequality" gap is widening.
"The rich are still getting richer, and the poor are falling further behind them," a news story said the other day, citing Census Bureau data.
The top-earning 20 percent of Americans, those grossing $100,000 or better, are pocketing practically half the country's income, 49.4 percent. The bottom 20 percent, just 3.4 percent.
This may or may not be a terrible thing; there's room for debate about that.
For one thing, all the people at the top and the bottom aren't fixed there forever. America is a dynamic system. We move up and down. At any given time, there are new billionaires and others who've fallen down the ladder.
But assume the worst case -- income inequality is a national shame and weakness. What would you do about it?
Cut the big earners down with wage control or confiscatory taxes? (Keep in mind, though, that these folks also spend, invest and donate above average, putting lots of people to work.)
The other alternative: Raise the people on the bottom. A "war on poverty," but not like the costly misfire of the 1960s. This one would call for no, or very little, taxpayer cost.
Start with discouraging single parenthood. This is often proposed, though never by the politically correct. It's such a stickout case of practically signing up for poverty. Most single mothers aren't middle-class feminists. They are poor and will stay poor, their fatherless kids as well, at high risk of failing in school and getting in trouble with the law. The economic effects, not to mention the social, are budget-busting, and the government doesn't even peep about it. …