Tearing Down the Joneses: Fostering Envy Over Wealth Distribution
Who distributes the wealth anyway?
November 7, 2013 - 11:00 am
Speaking to such envy within our souls, the above video concisely makes the Left’s case against wealth inequality. Even the term “wealth inequality” provokes the green-eyed monster. Inequality connotes a lack of fairness, an injustice, something wrong which properly ought to be set right. The video seizes upon that sense of unfairness to advocate for some unspoken solution — not “all the way to socialism,” but certainly in that direction.
The lynchpin of the piece is a subjective “ideal” established by an unnamed Harvard business professor and economist who asked 5,000 Americans how they felt wealth in the country ought to be distributed. Before considering any further analysis, that methodology ought to signal a fatal flaw. Rather than establishing objective criteria by which to judge how wealth ought to be distributed, we’re looking to whim to set a wholly arbitrary “ideal.”
From there, the video’s creator seeks to shock us by comparing real wealth distribution to the public’s imagination. The 80% of Americans who earn the least earn only 7% of the total income in the country, while the 1% of Occupy bane bring home 24% of the national income. That’s obscene, right?
Of course, missing from the video’s analysis is any consideration of how people come to earn their wealth. The narrator briefly acknowledges the role of productivity in the economy and how incentives must be maintained to foster it. Even so, he adopts a condescending tone which suggests all that free market stuff might be nonsense. Meanwhile, the fundamental concept of value goes largely ignored.