By Ross Dubberly
Why is income inequality a bad thing? The reality is, it isn’t—provided it is the result of a truly free economy. In fact, despite the brouhaha surrounding the issue of income inequality in America, the disparity in incomes is fundamentally an expression of freedom.
Income inequality is the bogeyman of the Left when discussing generally free and open economies like America’s.
Consider a simple example. NBA superstar LeBron James earned roughly $86 milion in 2017. The average teacher in America, on the other hand, earned just under $59,000. In other words, James earned approximately 1458 times what the average teacher in America earned. No one would argue that LeBron James, by dunking on a basketball court, does more for his community, his country, or the world than a teacher, who is educating the next generation of leaders.
And yet, we tolerate this supposed “injustice.” Why? Because we recognize it, correctly, as a product of freedom. So long as there exist millions of fans who enjoy watching LeBron James play basketball and who, by their own volition, pay for this experience, this disparity will continue to exist. But in truth, the real question is not why James makes more than a teacher; the real question is why anyone in America shouldcarewhat LeBron James makes.
It is no one’s business what James—or anyone else, for that matter—makes, provided he earns his income legally. Additionally, mere “income inequality” tells us very little about a society. America, for example, is supposedly plagued by income inequality. On the other hand, there is far less income inequality in North Korea and Venezuela. Yet, who in his right mind would want to live in either of those countries, where breadlines are pervasive, toilet paper and aspirin are a rarity, and the consumption of grass and roots is common?
The disparity in incomes is a footnote compared to the overall well-being of individuals; it is the quality of life, including for the poor, that is much more telling. And by this standard, America truly is exceptional.
According to various government surveys and reports, the percentage of “poor” U.S. households that have access to air conditioning is 80%. Nearly 75% have a personal vehicle. More than 50% have a video game system. Approximately 92% have a microwave. According to 96% of “poor” parents, their children never suffer from hunger at any point in the year due to an inability to afford food.
The reality is that America’s poor are relatively well-off compared to the poor in much of the world.
So what is the source of our society’s obsession with income inequality? The Left. Material equality is an obsession of the Left. And because the Left controls the media, academia, and Hollywood, the country is constantly bombarded with the narrative of “income inequality.”
But we must not allow ourselves to be sucked in. We must look at the statistics that matter, which reveal that income inequality is not inherently a bad thing.
Ross Dubberly is the co-chairman of the University of Georgia Young Americans for Freedom chapter.