Paul Jacob

“No Justice, No Peace” is an old, vaguely threatening leftwing bumpersticker slogan advocating the amorphous concept of “economic justice.”

That basic utterance, whatever it means, has currently been labeled “income equality,” leaping off car bumpers and into the political mainstream as the issue de jour of President Obama and congressional Democrats — that is, to folks anxious not to talk about Obamacare. This, depsite the fact that no one playing with more than half a deck actually believes that all of our incomes should be equal.

Into this intellectual hubub comes a Center for Responsive Politics study looking at the income disclosure forms filed by members of Congress, which effortlessly illuminates the absurdity of a Washington-led war on income inequality. For the first time ever, most of those “serving” in Congress are millionaires.

Democratic Party representatives are on average even richer than Republicans (and thus less representative of the populace), while Republican members of the Senate could, if they chose, boast of more dough than Democrats.

Clearly, the best thing members of Congress could do to deflect the horrible scourge of income inequality would be to cut their pay.

Heal yourselves!

And it’s not merely the malevolent in Congress. The increasingly wealthy metropolitan area in and around Washington, D.C. epitomizes the divide between the haves and have nots — with those “helping others” as federal government employees or private contractors or consultants getting a bigger boost than those being helped.

Among cities with 500,000 residents or more, only Atlanta has a wider disparity between rich and poor than does the nation’s capital. In a recent column, The Washington Post’s Charles Lane contrasted a Washington where “gleaming office-retail complexes rise, home prices reach into the millions and people routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars per year to send their children to private schools” against a city in which “[m]any single parents go to bed worrying about how to feed their children or protect them from crime and substandard public-school educations.”

Lane isn’t anti-rich folks. He doesn’t suggest that doing well economically is a crime. And he doesn’t believe most Americans resent the well-to-do, either. Still, he argues it matters how folks earn their money, that there is a difference between “those who exploit connections or insider knowledge to make money” and “those who get rich by developing extraordinary artistic talents, starting new businesses or inventing useful products.”


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.