Mr. Johnson discussed only three of the four categories that produce income inequality — individual abilities and motivations, creating wealth, and winning from gambling or cronyism. Messing with any of these risks interfering with the market forces and human motivations that are essential to our progress. We should be extremely cautious how we proceed. Although I do consider cronyism to be reprehensible — think Clinton Foundation or Gore’s milking climate change.
Not mentioned in the article is the category of endemic or systemic or government driven conditions that limit opportunity or shut doors on many people. Many at the bottom of the income ladder are there, sadly, because of their own personal life’s choices; not much we can do to remedy that. But many others are there because of fractured families, or poor schools, or crime ridden neighborhoods, or no entry level jobs, or they can’t start their small business opportunity because they can’t break through the bureaucracy or find local credit; or abandonment of inner cities; in other words, the environment they live in. And for the most part, that environment is the accumulated result of government at all levels.
Just as success builds on past accomplishments, failure builds on past failures. This is the most promising category to remedy to improve income inequality without risking harmful unintended consequences. And since most of these negative conditions are the result of bad government, they are susceptible to good government remedies.
Yes, I know it is difficult, and it will take a long time to show results. That is the reason the shortcut of just taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor is so politically attractive to the ill-informed. But I hope we all know that does not correct the causes of the problem; it simply relieves the symptoms temporarily, while creating other, worse problems.