Star Parker

Now that Democrats are back in power the politics of fear and envy is back in vogue.

It's hard to open a newspaper or watch the news without hearing about the "income gap" or the "wealth gap."

CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, well dressed and well fed (Lou certainly is up in that one percent of the population earning 20 percent of the income), goes on and on, night after night, about the "War on the Middle Class."

Whose war, Lou? Who's running it? Exactly who is it that is attacking our middle class? Is it those folks who, instead of sitting on the couch and listening to Lou, are actually working and taking responsibility for their lives?

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who will take over as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says he wants to hold hearing on "How do you do a better job of sharing overall economic growth with the average worker?" and calls this the "No. 1 problem" facing the country.

Perhaps Frank should check with his colleagues on Capitol Hill, who seem to be surviving the assault on working Americans quite well.

Roll Call newspaper has just completed its annual survey of the 50 wealthiest Members of Congress. The cutoff at No. 50, at $4.67 million, is up 12 percent from last year's survey.

The top four wealthiest members are all Frank's fellow Democrats: John Kerry ($750 million), Herb Kohl ($243 million), Jay Rockefeller ($200 million) and Jane Harman ($172 million).

The top five would have been Democrats but John Corzine ($262 million) departed the U.S. Senate to become governor of New Jersey.

New Speaker Nancy Pelosi comes in at No. 15, at a paltry $14.25 million net worth.

How about Hillary Clinton? No. 25 at $10.05 million.

Illinois Democrat Rahm Emmanuel, who wants to scrutinize executive compensation and champion activist government for the poor and middle class, is worth $8.52 million.

Two relevant questions to ask are: Is the stuff about the growing gaps in income and wealth true? And, second, even if it is, does it matter?

Without trying to answer the first question, it is worth pointing out that what the press cranks out daily as gospel is far from accurate.

Cato Institute economist and columnist Alan Reynolds challenges the conventional wisdom a gap exists in a new textbook called "Income and Wealth." Reynolds demonstrates the statistical complications and vagaries in compiling data on income and wealth. He shows that this is a field of dreams for politicians who can come up with what ever they want to and can show whatever they want to show.

Reynolds himself thinks that the country is in great shape and that American workers are really the envy of the rest of the world.


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.