Paul Jacob

We’re told that “economic inequality” is on the rise . . . by the same people who took our tax dollars to bail out some folks on Wall Street and elsewhere, surely making more than minimum wage.

But, once one investigates the issue beyond the buncombe level of egalitarian hysteria, one finds the reality more complicated than the rhetoric. The biggest truth? The rich may be getting richer, but the poor aren’t getting poorer.

First, contrary to the mind-numbingly stupid MSNBC promo with Lawrence O’Donnell arguing that the “rich got richer every single day,” the data shows the top income earners simply aren’t the same folks one year to the next. In fact, a majority of super-rich “1 percenters” will fall out of that 1 percent category.

There is still income mobility in America.

Meanwhile, some poor folks do indeed become super-rich. Probably more important, over time, most of us move from one quintile to at least the next step up the ladder.

What prevents widespread understanding of this? Intellectual muddles. The difference between income and wealth often get fuzzed up, for example. Take two high-income workers, earning the same pay: The one who saves will wind up with much more wealth than the other who spends it all. And rates of savings vary radically from person to person.

As does everything else.

Which makes making actual equality something of a chimera in and of itself.

But take a step back, take a breath. Those who demand more equality — or less inequality, depending on your focus — at least should face the biggest, ugliest unequalizer in the room: government.

Bailouts are now an integral feature to aid some of the rich, to prevent their losses (we’re told) from spreading “financial contagion.”

Considering the moral hazard involved, I’d say “financial contagion” is endemic . . . on a whole different level.

And now we discover there is yet another bailout in the offing, one written quietly and inserted into the gignormously long Obamacare legislation. Yes, the same health insurance industry demonized by the president to pass the bill (even though the insurance lobby was actually supporting it) is protected from harm by yet another potential bailout.

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.