It seems clear that income inequality will be a major item for debate in the upcoming mid-term elections. Of course, what will be debated is the ever-widening gap in income and wealth between the rich and poor. Statistics that demonstrate this point are easily found, often cited, and ominous, as indicators suggest the trend to be worsening with time and occurring in other developed countries as well as here.
Unfortunately, "income inequality" is a very poor name for this problem.
In our culture, equality is viewed as a good thing. Most people support racial equality, gender equality, etc. But what about income inequality?
First, the very name suggests that income should be equal, which is hardly the case in a merit-driven economy.
Second, the name suggests an easy fix, the transfer of income from the top to the bottom, which immediately raises red flags for many, and perhaps should for most.
A better term might be "income mobility" or "economic mobility," which is the opportunity to advance one's economic status through hard work. Isn't that what the American dream is all about?
What no one should want is an economic system that perpetually keeps the poor, poor, and the rich, rich. Such a "caste" system flies in the face of the American dream.
Thus, income inequality should be everyone's problem. Fixing it will make America a better place.
William I. Griffith