Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Virtues and Necessary Evils of Income Inequality

Brian Williams

The contemporary crusade for some mythical “income equality,” is in reality, a dunces parade. Worse still, it is doomed to fail.

Ironically enough, just as black unemployment under G W Bush was lower than that under Bill Clinton, income inequality has widened under Obama, over that during G W Bush’s tenure.

Interestingly enough, all this talk about “income inequality” makes it (1) appear as though government can do something about, like legislate it out of existence by decree and much worse, (2) makes government’s failure to do so appear to be that government’s, more aptly, that President’s fault.

Truth is some skills are simply more valuable than others and some people are, through holding superior skill sets, far more valuable than others. For instance, people who speak four or more languages well tend to be very valuable...valuable to international Corporations and to governments. People who can’t read beyond a third grade reading level tend to have far less value in terms of their employment options.

More daunting still is the fact that a rising level of income inequality is actually a hallmark of highly developed economies. In basic hunter/gatherer economies there is virtually NO income inequality, everything is shared equally with the tribe, because everyone in the tribe is mandated to do the SAME work. In more the slightly more advanced agrarian economies there is more income inequality because those who consistently produce more crops do better than those who don’t, but here income inequality, at least between farmers, is pretty minimal. However, even in the agrarian economy, we see the rise of the middleman – the seller who buys as cheaply as he can from the farmer to sell for as much as he can get from the consumer. The agrarian society also sees the rise of the mercantile exchange, where the base price of grains and other commodities are set by democratic action between brokers. These create even more income inequality even in the basic agrarian economy.

In basic, or heavy industrial societies there is greater productivity, leading to greater prosperity and of course, greater income inequality. Miners and heavy equipment operators earn significantly more than unskilled laborers and a small but growing professional class (physicians, engineers, attorneys, financial planners, etc.) earn even more.

In even more advanced industrial and especially in technological, or information-based economies this inequality is even more pronounced as those with only marginal skills are left in a position where such skills do not even pay enough for a subsistence living. Those economies are clearly saying, “DON’T rely on such skills.” We do so at our own peril and eventually the negative consequences drive most people to simply develop new skill sets and seek advancement on their own.

There is really very little, if anything that government can do about that problem, as the “problem” is an advanced economy.

In America today there are many jobs going begging, especially among cryogenic truckers, commercial electrical workers (people who work on high voltage power lines) and “tree toppers” (people who cut trees for those power lines) largely because such jobs, even though they require less technological, or “professional” acumen, are extremely physically demanding and dangerous. Cryogenic truckers cannot even have a speeding ticket on their record to be hired for those positions...and the work requires a virtual laser focus because any misstep will almost certainly be that driver’s last, given the product their dealing with is stored at over 240 degrees BELOW zero and some, like liquid oxygen make asphalt surfaces shock sensitive (explosive when impacted). In our society the number of these positions are growing, so it’s incumbent upon poorly paid laborers to try and develop the skills necessary to do those high stress, high-turnover, highly paid jobs.

Viva income inequality! For it creates the incentives for poorly paid workers to be willing to do those highly skilled, very dangerous jobs that most people wouldn't want to touch.

Another anchor around the neck of this inane crusade is that many of its inherent are, well, a BIG part of the problem, by their very own definition.

NBC's Brian Williams, who reportedly earned $13 million a year in 2012, quoted Karl Marx while hyping a news report on global income disparity: "...the staggering news out today about the growing gap between the haves and the have nots."

Williams went on to recite the findings: "Some new figures came out today....And they are so shocking, it takes a while for them to sink in. A study commissioned by Oxfam says the world's richest 85 individuals have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people around the world. Once again, 85 people on this planet have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on this planet."

Tim Graham (of Newsbusters’) reported in 2008, this is the same Brian Williams who "lives in one of New York's swankiest addresses in Manhattan with the chic restaurant Le Cirque on the ground floor, which offers high priced cuisine like an appetizer of terrine of foie gras with Gewurtztraminer gelee for $38. 'It's better than having an Applebee's in the lobby,' he joked to the New York Observer in 2006."

It’s hard to take a $13 million/year news reader seriously, on the topic of income inequality, absent that guy’s taking a cut to say 2% of that “obscene” income.

You can take it to the bank that Brian Williams doesn’t see HIMSELF as the part of the problem he really is, instead he sees Hedge Fund managers and others who actually create value as “the problem.”

Then there’s Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who is worth an estimated $20 million dollars, according to her congressional financial disclosure statement, claiming that Congress needs to tackle income inequality because it “poses an existential threat to our nation and our way of life.”

According to her congressional financial disclosure statement for 2012, DeLauro is worth between $5 million and $25 million. (The form’s requirements allow members to state ranges of value for their assets rather than exact values.)

In November 2013, the website Celebrity Networth listed DeLauro’s fortune at $20 million in its “Richest Politicians” category.

Note to these 1%ers; IF you really care so much about income inequality” STOP taking so much money for doing these rather mundane jobs. Simply STOP being so much a part of the problem!

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