Income inequality

2014 or 1984?

[Note: this is reposted because it was lost in transition from Tucson Citizen]

“May you live in interesting times.”  That phrase, falsely attributed to a Chinese curse, means that “uninteresting times” are periods of peace and tranquility.  2014 will be “interesting” because of the turmoil caused by “Obamacare.”

The administration will try to deflect the “Obamacare” issue with class warfare: the issue of “income inequality.”  Much has been written about “income inequality” which is another term for poverty.  Since President Lyndon Johnson began the “War of Poverty” in 1964, the government has spent about $20 trillion in an attempt to solve the problem, apparently with little effect.  Perhaps the solution does not lie with government.

It will be “interesting” to see what our Prevaricator-in-Chief comes up with next.

Thomas Sowell asks, “What kind of man would blithely disrupt the medical care of millions of Americans, and then repeatedly lie to them with glib assurances that they could keep their doctors or health insurance if they wanted to?”

Sowell observes that “What ObamaCare has done … is reduce us all from free citizens to cowed subjects, whom the federal government can order around in our own personal lives, in defiance of the 10th Amendment and all the other protections of our freedom in the Constitution of the United States”.

“ObamaCare is more than a medical problem, though there are predictable medical problems — and even catastrophes — that will unfold in the course of 2014 and beyond. Our betters have now been empowered to run our lives, with whatever combination of arrogance and incompetence they may have, or however much they lie.”  (Read Sowell’s complete essay here.)

To continue class warfare and promote income redistribution, the administration will hype “income inequality.”  The Heritage Foundation has a three-part essay on this subject titled “Why Income Inequality Doesn’t Threaten Opportunity.” (link to full article).  It is introduced as follows:

Today, on the Left and on the Right, everyone talks about rebuilding, saving, restoring, defending, or rescuing an American Dream that is slipping, fading, eroding, or vanishing.

The loudest voices, all coming from the Left, fulminate against the top 1 percent of earners and blame an unfair system that allows the rich to line their pockets, leaves the poor in the lurch, and generates spectacular income disparities. To protect the American Dream, these critics call for greater government involvement to make things more equal and ensure that everyone gets their “fair share.”

This gets both the problem and its solution all wrong. Free-market economics is not about dividing up a dwindling pie, but expanding the pie to serve everyone. Those who succeed do not do so at the expense of others.

Those who focus on income inequality have embraced a very different American Dream from the one that is familiar to most Americans. They still use the traditional language of opportunity, but their new dream has very little in common with the real American Dream.

Part I of this report contrasts these two dreams. While the American Dream we all know is about climbing the ladder of opportunity, the new liberal American Dream can best be likened to an escalator of results—everyone hops on and moves up without effort.

Part II examines the income inequality argument and shows how the recent rise in income disparities has not caused a decline in upward mobility. Standards of living have increased for everyone—as have incomes—and mobility, however one measures it, remains robust. Simply put, how much the top 1 percent of the population earns has no bearing on whether the bottom 20 percent can move up.

Part III provides an overview of the six factors that most seriously threaten the American Dream:

The suffocating web of regulation and laws that flow from the limitless state and restrict opportunity;

The collapse of the family and the devastating, long-lasting consequences that it has on children;

The dependence fostered by the welfare state;

The erosion of our culture of work and the rise of a slacker culture that disparages hard work and celebrates indolence;

The failures of the public education system that deny countless children the rudimentary skills they need to move ahead in life;

and The looming fiscal crisis that has already saddled the next generation with an unconscionable level of debt.

To accomplish the transformation of the American Dream, we need some brainwashing and what better method than to change the American educational system.  John Stossel has some comments on the Common Core educational standards (link to article).

[W]hen the federal government imposes a single teaching plan on 15,000 school districts across the country, that’s even more central planning, and central planning rarely works. It brings stagnation.

Education is a discovery process like any other human endeavor. We might be wrong about both how to teach and what to teach, but we won’t realize it unless we can experiment — compare and contrast the results of different approaches. Having “one plan” makes it harder to experiment and figure out what works.

No Child Left Behind programs were an understandable reaction to atrocious literacy and graduation rates — but since school funding was pegged to students’ performance on federally approved tests, classroom instruction became largely about drilling for those tests and getting the right answers, even if kids did little to develop broader reasoning skills. So along comes Common Core to attempt to fix the problem — and create new ones.

Common Core de-emphasizes correct answers by awarding kids points for reasoning, even when they don’t quite get there.

Common Core, like public school, public housing, the U.S. Postal Service, the Transportation Security Administration, etc., are all one-size-fits-all government monopolies. For consumers, this is not a good thing.

With the future riding on young people consuming better forms of education, I’d rather leave parents and children (and educators) multiple choices.

Mark Twain once said: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

In addition to the issues above, we will be contending with a rogue EPA, Obama’s war on coal and his naive or nefarious climate action plan.

Welcome to 2014, we will live in “interesting times.”

This article was originally published at the Arizona Daily Independent.

See also (links updated):

The dark side of Common Core Standards for education

Common Core Arithmetic – harder than it needs to be

The Collectivist Mind