Despite what we routinely read in the news, we do not have an income inequality problem.
First, as I’ve previously argued, we don’t refer to height differences as “height inequality.” Nor should we speak of income differences as “income inequality.” Doing so implies the deck is stacked for the “haves” and against the “have nots” before scrutinizing the facts.
Second, the statistics are often misleading.
A common tactic is to paint a dire economic picture by looking at statistical units— “households,” “families,” “income quintiles,” etc.—instead of individuals. For example, a headline from The New York Times reads: “Household Incomes Have Remained Flat Despite Improving Economy.”
Another article claims that, “after adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999, and essentially unchanged since the end of the Reagan administration.” Moreover, we are repeatedly warned that increasing shares of income go to the “top one percent” of earners while the rest stagnate or worse.
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