Arthur C. Brooks (past President of the American Enterprise Institute) has frequently spoken on topics relating to America’s economy. He feels that the issue of income inequality is often used as a political distraction. The real problem he said is the increasingly diminished opportunity for upward mobility for those in the lower 20% of the economic strata. Without opportunity, comes income stagnation.
Social programs have gradually replaced upward mobility opportunities. This creates a culture of dependence on social programs rather than incentive for individual initiative. And effort. The culture of dependency seems to encompass more and more people.
When Bill Gates first came on the scene as one of the world’s most successful and richest men, a survey was conducted about how people felt about him. Americans typically thought “my son or daughter can be the next Bill Gates.” The French, however, incline toward burning his house down and taking his stuff. The subtle shift in American attitudes in the direction of this European ethos has spawned a political environment of class warfare — the heroic and virtuous 99% versus the evil 1% (which is evolving into the heroic and virtuous 44% of Americans who pay no income taxes against those who do).
The United States is already heavily-taxed and heavily-regulated. To hear the recent debates – it may become more so. But the proposed policies on dealing with income inequality (“free everything“) do not address the underlying problem. We should want people to succeed. Want people to learn. Want people to achieve. Want people to become entrepreneurs. Want people to take initiative. Want people to try. Incentive and opportunity are liberating concepts. These precepts can’t be replaced by stifling regulation, suffocating taxes and unrestrained governmental handouts with no expectation of responsibility . . . .