Tag: Weath

The Undue Alarmism over America’s Wealth Inequality ‘Crisis’

 

At least the fantastical Green New Deal attempts to address an actual problem: climate change. That’s less obviously the case with various new tax proposals meant to solve America’s “wealth inequality crisis.” Evidence that America’s ever-expanding stock of wealth has become concentrated in fewer hands isn’t itself evidence of a crisis. Nor does “tolerating extreme inequality mean accepting that it’s not a gross policy failure,” as inequality researchers Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez recently wrote.

In what way is it a policy failure if extraordinary wealth is derived from the rise of innovative companies (who invest as if their continued existence depends on it) that sell gadgets and services that we greatly value?  (Which is more the case than it used to be. The opposite trend, one that favored inheritance or cronyism, is what would be alarming.) How is it, given this reality, that the more billionaires there are and the richer they are, the worse things are? More, please. (It’s also worth pointing out Zucman’s much-cited data shows wealth inequality has drifted lower the past few years. Likewise, income inequality has slowed markedly over the past decade.)

And what is that policy failure, exactly, when the story of wealth inequality is largely one of housing inequality? Is the solution legally suspect and administratively challenging wealth taxes or tackling land-use regulations that deter housebuilding and generate fat returns for homeowners? Granted, the latter provides much less cathartic punch for those in need of such emotional release.