A Message for Misguided Inequality Alarmists

Here is Jared Meyer writing at the Manhattan Institute’s website:

Rather than proving to be a fleeting political movement, the perception that the top 1 percent of income earners are gaining at the expense of the other 99 percent has inspired a full-fledged crusade to combat income inequality. Politicians in both parties argue that the middle-class is shrinking, average Americans’ incomes have stagnated, and today’s economic system is rigged against the little guy.

But the reality is not as simple as blaming billionaires. Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality, a new book by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook that will be published by St. Martin’s Press on March 29, argues that today’s “inequality narrative” is more about bringing down people at the top of the income scale rather than helping those at the bottom. Here Watkins explains what drives the war against income inequality and how policymakers can restore the American Dream.

Jared Meyer: You write, “the forces that have made modern life possible go hand in hand withenormous economic inequality” (emphasis in original). Please explain.

Don Watkins: We have seen an amazing increase in our standard of living over the last hundred fifty years or so, and any economic discussion has to start by asking: what made that possible? It was not physical labor. Marx’s arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, muscles did not make Manhattan.

What transformed human life was the intellectual efforts of inventors, entrepreneurs, and financiers who used their minds to discover and implement new technologies and productive processes.

It started in the 19th century and only in the West because people had an unprecedented amount of freedom to put ideas into action, and to profit from their efforts. Free societies become rich because they liberate human ability and reward achievement.

Read more: Manhattan Institute