Geoff Colvin at Fortune has precisely the reaction to the income inequality debate as you’d expect: “BORING!!!!”
I suspect I’m not the only one suffering from severe inequality fatigue.
The debate over income inequality is now officially the most boring debate in America, and that’s because it’s scarcely a “debate” at all. Here’s the thrilling state of play. Liberals think inequality is a really big problem—“the defining challenge of our time,” as President Obama said last December. Conservatives think it’s a problem, but not all that serious. As House Speaker John Boehner said grudgingly in March, “We do have an issue of income inequality in America.”
So we see furrowed brows across the political spectrum, with the “debate” focused on exactly how energetically we should be wringing our hands.
Wake me when it’s over.
Now, Colvin says there is an income inequality debate he wants to have, but it’s a fakeout. He doesn’t want to talk about income inequality at all. He just wants to find ways to blame the poor for their own poverty. He poses three questions. First,
If today’s degree of inequality is too great, then what degree would be just right?
This is a self-serving question because the answer for Colvin is that inequality is good and by forcing people to admit that, the rich win. Obviously we are never going to achieve full and absolute income equality. But it is a noble aim to strive for and I’m certainly not going to answer Colvin’s question in any other way than “None.”
2. If everyone’s real income were multiplied by 100, would inequality still be a problem?
A stupid question and irrelevant since it is never going to happen and we are heading in the opposite direction.
3. Is education the real reason for what’s happening?
Here we go. Because some of our young people go to Harvard (like Colvin) and others go to the University of Rhode Island and still others don’t go to college at all and because some of our young people were born rich, white men (like Colvin) and others were born in the ghetto or a West Virginia hollow or were raped by their fathers, we can blame those who have failed. If only they had gone to Harvard, they would be writing for Fortune too!
The idea that everyone is responsible for constantly “acquiring new skills” in order to have a house and eat properly and raise a family is totally absurd and ignores the reality of how people actually live in the world. Moreover, it does exactly what the plutocrats and their hack writers have done for 150 years–blame the poor for their own poverty.
I guess this is what one should expect from Fortune. Why read it if not for laughable defenses of the plutocracy?