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On Inequality

I applaud these two letters-to-the-editor appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal:

In regard to the appearance of French economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez in President Barack Obama’s budget (“The Obama Rosetta Stone,” by Daniel Henninger, Wonder Land, March 12): In their use of statistics of the top 1% of income earners, Messrs. Piketty and Saez make the same false assumptions that the Internal Revenue Service does. In 1980 income disparity began to take off in the U.S. leaving the top 1% of income earners with a greater share of the income pie. Like the IRS, these French economists use “household” income as their measure.

But consider that 1980 was about the time when large percentages of college-educated women began to enter the workforce. Many of these professional women would go on to marry other professionals. This in effect created a doubling of “household” income for many families.

At the same time out-of-wedlock birth rates and divorce began to skyrocket creating large percentages of single-parent households. It should be no surprise that a two income household has a much higher income than a single-income household even if all workers make exactly the same income.

Surgeons will always make more than janitors, as anyone who has ever gone “under the knife” will agree with, and their income should not be distorted because they are married to a fellow surgeon.

My working wife and I often find ourselves in this 1% bracket, but if we were to divorce we would never come close. It’s ironic that the left decries the income disparity between men and women, but in the instance when women earn equal pay it is used to inflame class warfare.

Steve Walde
Easton, Conn.

President Obama’s new era of responsibility budget makes it clear that 5% of the population (the rich) must assume more financial responsibility for the other 95%. Fair enough, but is there some new responsibility that the other 95% also must assume? If not, that seems somewhat irresponsible.

Efforts to countermand the laws of nature to create a completely fair society mean forcing equality of outcomes, an end result that isn’t fair, healthy or sustainable. History tells us that this type of class warfare never has a happy ending.

R.D. Shipley
Stamford, Conn.