Have you ever noticed that people who worry about inequality seem to be focused only on certain kinds of inequality? When they obsess about the income and wealth of the top 1%, they seem to be bothered by only some of those at the top, and not others.
For example, have you ever seen Robert Reich or Paul Krugman or any like-minded complainer bemoan the huge salaries of professional athletes? What about the stratospheric incomes of rock stars? Or movie idols? Or super models?
Even more puzzling, when is the last time you saw any of them assailing worthless heirs? I would guess that a large share of mega gifts to Barack Obama's presidential campaign came from "trust fund babies." These are people who are living (and living well) off the assets created by some deceased capitalist. All too many of the heirs spend a good part of their lives giving personal and foundation money to…well…to promote socialism.
Shouldn't there be a Hall of Shame (and maybe an annual award for the most shameless) to draw attention to the activities of those who use the fruits of capitalism to try to destroy it?
Something else is odd about the sociology of the anti-inequality crowd. They seem to be unfazed by inequality created by government.
Take the recent Powerball outcome. At $588 million, it was the largest lottery prize in history ? to be shared by two ticketholders. In essence, hundreds of millions of dollars are being transferred from mostly low-income families in order to create a few super rich individuals. As I wrote previously:
I can't think of any single act of government that creates more inequality than the lottery — at least per dollar raised and spent. Think about it. Thousands of (mostly below-average income) people buy tickets and, after the drawing, one of them becomes immensely wealthy…
I can't think of anything in the private sector that even begins to compare to this reverse Robin Hood redistribution from the poor to the rich and the nouveau riche. And remember, in order to pull it off, government first has to establish a monopoly, keeping private competitors (who would at least raise the poor bettor's expected return) out of the market.
John C. Goodman is President of the Goodman Institute and a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts.”