Something quite troubling has happened to our economy and society; something that can be traced directly to the deeply hypocritical policies of an administration devoted to the manipulation of people through tax policies, spending programs, and rhetoric that have combined over the past 6 years to form a veritable War on America’s economy in the name of economic social justice; a war based on greed and envy, the desire to possess that which one has not earned.
Economic freedom after all entails rewards and punishments for good or bad life choices. You may choose to go to college to become an academic or enter politics with its many rewards, and economic riches or drop out of school and bum through life. But those are our choices to make.
Economic inequality does actually matter, at least when it is the type and extent of inequality achieved under socialist policies. Not to say that Obama and his economic policies have failed. They have, utterly. But the proper measure of their failure should be seen in very concrete terms. The decline in most Americans’ take home pay, the increase in long-term, structural unemployment, and the drop in overall standards of living under Obama’s policies should speak for themselves.
Obama and his leftist cheerleaders focus on the “gap” between the rich and the poor as the source of all economic evil. Envy is neither a useful nor a virtuous character trait and it certainly does no good as the basis of public policy. There are concrete reasons to worry about the poor but those concerns must be related to the actual conditions, not simple comparisons of “fair shares” invoking greed and envy.
That “gap” between rich and poor is, in any well-functioning society, filled with the largest portion of the people, namely the middle class. In any mass of people you can measure most characteristics along a curved shaped like a bell. Whether you are measuring intelligence, performance at a particular task, or income, it is natural for most people to fall “somewhere in the middle,” with those “scoring” really well or poorly showing up in decreasing numbers at the end.
While many on the left criticize such statistically minded observations as inhumane or even contrived, societies require a large, healthy middle class if they are to remain economically, socially, and culturally vibrant over time. If the middle class is shrinking, especially if it is shrinking at a significant pace, this is a sign that something is seriously wrong with our economy and it signals very real troubles to come.
But is precisely where Obama’s policies have led us. Europhile that he is, Obama is trying to turn our nation into a cheap imitation of Europe, complete with socialist policies and a very urban character. New York City may well be seen as our future. Anyone who has taken the slightest notice of developments in that city over the last couple of decades has seen where this leads.
The rich get infinitely richer by manipulating highly regulated markets, be they in finance or, real estate. The poor actually do get poorer measured in real terms, but survive by working the convoluted system of welfare payments and other government handouts. The middle class – they leave for greener pastures or at least less dilapidated suburbs. In essence, the choice increasingly must be made between both spouses working far more than 40 hours a week while ignoring any children they have in favor of economic pursuits, or losing the rate race, perhaps even both jobs and going on the dole, with generations of dependency and learned helplessness a real possibility for them and their children. Not much of a future is it?
We are often told that the traditional family has become obsolete because we have somehow “outgrown” it due to lifestyle choices. As we recognize the importance and consequences of those life choices we should also recognize that government that overtaxes and over-regulates also squeezes the middle class and its norms out of existence.
Such a government sets up huge barriers to entry and economies of scale that punish businesses and those who work for them; it rewards those who know how to manipulate the system more than those who work hard, work with great skill, and innovate in ways that actually improve people’s lives; it destroys that class of relatively independent, grounded citizens that once made our Republic prosper, providing opportunity for the poor to improve their lot in life, a much needed counter to the corruptions of concentrated wealth, and a check on the power of government to shape and misshape our lives.
If taken too far, it is the kind of loss from which a free society cannot recover.
“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intended he should be”. Ronald Reagan
Source: Does Economic Inequality Matter? By Bruce Frohnen