Who Is ‘We’?

by Don Boudreaux on December 23, 2013

in Inequality, Other People's Money

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal - a letter inspired by my colleague Bryan Caplan and by EconLog’s David Henderson:

Robert Grady marshals facts to show that income inequality is not as great as Pres. Obama claims it to be (“Obama’s Misguided Obsession With Inequality,” Dec. 23).  In addition to getting the facts wrong, however, Pres. Obama and other “Progressives” also get the morality wrong.

If large differences in incomes truly are unjust as Pres. Obama and other ”Progressives” proclaim, then redistributing incomes from rich Americans to poor Americans does almost nothing to address this injustice.  The reason is that even the poorest Americans are among the richest people on earth today, not to mention in human history.  So given that the President and other “Progressives” really believe that transferring money from rich to poor is a justified and effective means of helping poor people – and believe also that large income differences are an outrageous injustice – then Mr. Obama and other “Progressive” politicians should have the courage of their moral convictions and call for higher taxes on all Americans, with the proceeds to be distributed directly to people in Chad, Ethiopia, Haiti, and other countries whose citizens languish in poverty unimaginable to “poor” Americans.

That the President and his fellow “Progressives” in Washington issue no such call suggests that the true aim of their public moralizing is to paint a pretty face on their selfish quest for votes and power.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

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