Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oh, For Dumber

Megan McArdle:
I don't care about income inequality.  I care about the absolute condition of the poor--whether they are hungry, cold, and sick.  But I do not care about the gap between their incomes, and those of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.  Nor the ratio of Gates and Buffett's incomes to mine.  And I'm not sure why anyone should.  Other than pure envy, it's hard to see how I could somehow be made worse off if Bill Gates' income suddenly doubled, but everything else remained the same.

But while I do not care about gaps and ratios, I do care about opportunity.  It is fine that CEOs earn many times what their workers do--but it is not fine if some are born to be workers, and others to be CEOs.  And unfortunately, that increasingly seems to be the story in America, as Scott Winship outlines in a fine new piece for National Review:
Megan the reason to care about income inequality is that it allows the rich to construct a system that makes opportunity, political equality, and a decent life for the majority all but impossible. You are here arguing that you don't care about the very thing that makes the world less fair and, to be blunt, less meritocratic.

The whole thing is an incoherent mess of  willful misunderstanding working on behalf of obsfucation.

Take, just as one example:
But in the new aristocracy, it is rarely enough to just get born to the right parents; you also have to work very hard.  (Higher earning men are now more likely to work more than 50 hours a week than are men in lower earnings quintiles.)  Whatever the systemic injustices, it's also quite clear to everyone . . . even parasitic leeches of investment bankers . . . that their salaries only come as the result of frantic effort.  
A ditch digger working full, she argues, does less work in 40 hrs than a financial whiz does in 50. Salaried employees work 40 hrs a week, except when there's extra work to be done. Investment bankers don't, in fact, work 40 let alone 50 hrs a week. What do these, she gets one point right, parasitic leeches do for 50 hrs a week?

1 comment:

  1. I just came from yglesias's blog where he is saying that people need less leisure time because we can't tax it, only to find Megan mccardle talking about how hard bankers work.

    I think I am going to throw up now