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January 21, 2014

The Myth of the Deserving Rich

Did you know that there was one?  A "myth of the deserving rich," I mean.  Neither did I.  But according to the NYT's Paul Krugman, there is one and it's a topic of such acute importance that he asks,

'So how can the myth of the deserving rich be sustained? Mainly through a strategy of distortion by dilution. You almost never see apologists for inequality willing to talk about the 1 percent, let alone the really big winners. Instead, they talk about the top 20 percent, or at best the top 5 percent.'

In case you're wondering, inequality is topping the list for campaign topics in this year's midterm elections.  If you're a partisan like Krugman, this is the only viable avenue for rescuing Democratic fortunes in the face the ObamaCare disaster.  ObamaCare hasn't gotten any more popular than it was when it passed four years ago.  In all likelihood it's going to get even more unpopular as the year wears on.  So what's a progressive to do?

If you're Obama you'll continue to do what you'e been doing right along.  He attacks his opponents, calling them racist, greedy, dishonest, or all of those things.  Racism, greed, and dishonesty is so rampant, according to Obama, that it must be fought using the powers of federal government.  Like when he sicced the IRS on Tea Party groups.  Look for it to be the new perk for Democratic presidents.  He started out using the Federal Election Commission to outlaw political campaigning by the other side.  But when the courts found that to be unconstitutional, Obama transferred his political hacks over to the IRS who continued the practice from there.

And on the public relations front he talks about inequality.  It's perfect.  Inequality is really the natural state of things.  Let's face it.  Not everybody can play Major League Baseball.  But talking about inequality likes it's some kind of conservative plot to keep the disadvantaged from taking their money?  That's caught on as a winning campaign issue.

So we get Paul Krugman talking about the deserving and undeserving.  

'I’ve noted before that conservatives seem fixated on the notion that poverty is basically the result of character problems among the poor.'

He moralizes over pretend conservative moralizing.  And who are those conservatives who moralize about the poor.  Why, they're the undeserving rich.  In the face of rising inequality these lowlife undeserving rich engage in 'a determined campaign of statistical obfuscation.'  Ah, but what about his own obfuscation?

'For an example of de facto falsification, one need look no further than a recent column by Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal, which first accused President Obama (wrongly) of making a factual error, then proceeded to assert that rising inequality was no big deal, because everyone has been making big gains. Why, incomes for the bottom fifth of the U.S. population have risen 186 percent since 1979!

If this sounds wrong to you, it should: that’s a nominal number, not corrected for inflation. You can find the inflation-corrected number in the same Census Bureau table; it shows incomes for the bottom fifth actually falling. Oh, and for the record, at the time of writing this elementary error had not been corrected on The Journal’s website.'

Think about it.  There is a bottom fifth of the U.S. population.  As unjust as this may sound, eighty percent of the U.S. population will be richer than they are.  Next year there will be a bottom fifth of the U.S. population, and a hundred years from now there is still going to be a bottom fifth.  

But the question never addressed is, who's going to be in it?  Answer:  Just about everybody.  Almost all of us start at the bottom, and that's the way it should be.  Now, those of us who weren't delusional when we started out, didn't expect to pull down CEO-sized salaries when we were selling toys in a department store, washing dishes in a restaurant, or picking tobacco.  We got minimum wage.  On tobacco it was less than minimum wage.  But it was not a career and we knew it.  We were just starting out.

Which brings me to this startling fact.  There are still such things as entry level jobs.  Usually, they're minimum wage jobs and historically they've been part of the education of American workers.  With any kind of luck there will be entry level jobs 50 years from now, though if progressives like Obama can hold onto power there will be much fewer of them than there are workers who want them.  Why is that?

It's not fair unless Democrats get to decide who is entitled to be rich.  That's why.  This is something way too important to be left to the uncaring mechanics of the marketplace.  The Democratic approach is to make sure people are not exploited in low wage jobs.  It's simple, really. 

Think Keystone Pipeline!  20,000 jobs right there for the taking.  Just approve the project and let construction and the hiring begin.  Construction pays better than minimum wage, but the infusion of construction cash into local economies would spin off the entry level jobs as the demand for the necessities of life explodes.  Those entry level jobs are the one the Democrats strive to prevent, and by preventing their formation they save thousands from exploitation.  By stopping Keystone Democrats save countless people from the ravages of minimum wage jobs -- or any other jobs for that matter.  

For Democrats, an important function of government is saving the disadvantaged from the disadvantages of a job.  They've been extraordinarily successful at it, too.  Come to think of it, with immigration reform they're saving our nation's youth -- particularly African American and Hispanic -- from the indignities of low paying jobs.  Undocumented workers from Mexico, Central, and South America can have them.  

But we can't expect all of their compassion and hard work for nothing.  Our deserving Democrats hope and expect to be returned to power where they can do more such good works, and of course be paid handsomely.  They can't be expected to fight greed for nothing.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 07:52 AM | Permalink

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