Inequality and Inequality

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Powerline tries to catch liberals in a “trap”, it seems:

[The] latest discussion of inequality is a sure sign that the economy is doing well. No longer able to talk about a recession or a jobless recovery, the left now resorts, as it did during the prosperous Reagan years, to income inequality.

Um, but the whole point of talking about income inequality is that the economy is not “prosperous,” because it’s not prosperous for all. At any rate, people often seem to talk about two different things with regards to income inequality. One, it could be the case that all income groups are doing well, but the rich just happen to be doing astronomically well. Now I happen to think that that sort of inequality may well pose real problems and inflict real costs on society, but this debate admittedly gets pretty complex, and defenders can say at least the rising tide is lifting all boats. On the other hand, it could be the case that only the wealthy are doing well, and everyone else is worse off—the rising tide swamping all boats. In a lot of ways, that’s the sort of inequality we have today: real wages for workers have been falling during the “Bush recovery,” as they did during the Reagan years, and that’s a massive, massive problem, irrespective of how well the top tax brackets are doing.

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