Here’s Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders complaining about economic inequality in America:
There is something profoundly wrong when in recent years we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires yet the average American is working longer hours for lower wages and we have shamefully the highest rate of child poverty of any major country on earth.
A question for the socialist senator from Vermont: would he prefer that that there was no proliferation of millionaires and billionaires, and that all Americans were equally mired in poverty? If not, then let’s stop talking about poverty as if it were an inequality problem.
Sanders is employing one of the most popular gimmicks inequality alarmists use to get Americans fired up about income disparities: he is conflating hardship and comparative differences. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Point to people facing a genuine hardship, like poverty.
Step 2: Point to people who are enjoying above-average success.
Step 3: Imply that the problem is the gap between the two, not the hardship itself. (Bonus points if you can suggest that the one group’s success is the cause of the other group’s hardship.)
Step 4: Advocate closing the gap by bringing down the high fliers.
Whenever you see this sort of argument, you can be sure that the goal of the speaker is not to end the hardship, but to smash the successful.
An analogy might help. Imagine two people are thrown into a lake: a kid who can’t swim and Michael Phelps. What would you make of someone who said, “There is something profoundly wrong when we’ve seen a child drown while an Olympic gold medalist easily swims to the shore”? Take Phelps out of the picture, and the kid is still drowning. The only reason to mention Phelps is if your goal is not to help the kid, but to smear the athlete.
So it is for the inequality alarmists. They don’t want to guide everyone to dry land. They want to drown the best swimmers.
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