The Rich ar Getting Richer. The Poor are Getting Poorer. Now What?
The rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. This, unfortunately, is a fact. But many conservatives seem unwilling to address it. In his LA Times column today, Jonathan Chait takes conservatives to task for crying “class warfare!” every time someone brings up our nation’s growing economic inequalities.
Chait witheringly criticizes supply-siders, pointing out that caring about inequality doesn’t make you anti-wealth and ends with a recommendation that we should raise taxes on the rich to Clinton-era levels. Read the whole piece, it’s great.
Now, I have no problem with the ultra-rich. Like most Americans, I fully intend to be ultra-rich myself. I have no problems with low taxes, although we need a balanced budget. I don’t even have a problem that there are poor in this country. What I do have a problem with is that the poor are getting poorer and that certain conservatives couldn’t care less and certain liberals have no solutions outside of raising taxes and expanding welfare.
Forget class warfare, this isn’t about that. This isn’t even about the rich. This is simply a question of why. Why are the poor now poorer? Are they lazier than ever before? That seems unlikely. Are government entitlements too low? No, increased entitlements have proven ineffective in combating poverty. Are there just fewer opportunities? Now, that seems likely.
Poor schools in poor neighborhoods, an entrenched culture of poverty and the replacement of middle-class manufacturing jobs with lower-paying service jobs all make it harder than before for someone to rise out of poverty. Pointing this out and saying something can probably be done to help doesn’t make you a proponent of class warfare.
Look, some people are born on top of the mountain. Some people are born part-way up with all the climbing equipment they need. Then there’s those born at the bottom with no equipment at all. It’s reprehensible for a person born on top to look down at those below and say “well, I’m up here, they could be too if they just worked harder.”
Yes, hard work is the most essential requirement to success. But what’s wrong with giving people at the bottom a rope and pick? The point is, we’ve tried entitlements and that didn’t work—in fact things are getting worse. Doing nothing at all is a bad idea. So what do we do? Find ways to create opportunity. We need to get out of the welfare state or nothing strategies of the far left and right and embrace new ideas focused on opportunity. Maybe these could be government programs or maybe they could be private initiatives--most likely they will be some of each.
I wish I had all the answers. I don’t. But I’m thinking and I hope a lot of other people are too.