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Friend Jack, Your comments are appreciated and I understand your fears that things are getting worse. Truly in the past few years, the growth of government, its affront to liberty and free choice, its total disregard of the constitution and rule of law have subsumed the human capital that powers our historic rise in living standards for all people. But our country is still the land of opportunity and the beacon of freedom most humans yearn for. Just today, that opportunity was availed to elevate an individual and his family from poverty to success. A young boy came to California from Mexico, learned English, worked in the low paying entry level jobs on the farms and in the grocery stores paying for his law school education. He just received his law degree and license and will begin his practice. No one told him he could't succeed. The path is open to all who have the desire and make the effort. Its a well trodden road. Its about the human desire to succeed which desire is removed by dependency, victimhood and the culture of results inequality. Drop out of high school and the chance of success for you and your family is next to nil.
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The disparaging of a differing position and view point on the socialist agenda is disappointing but not surprising. I should feel chastened. However it doesn't change the facts on the ground. The lower income bracket should be brought up, not the others brought down. If one does not drop out of high school and gets married before having children, the chance of remaining in the the lower bracket is next to nil. The knowledge of the opportunity for successful results needs to make its way into those places where people are told they can't be successful.
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There are a couple of ideas I'd like to bring to the discussion. These are not new or original but things that get lost in the general public discourse of income inequality. First, inequality is the wrong question and an errant locus of attention. As Thatcher stated very clearly, it's not the gap that's the issue, it is the standard of living. If the standard of living of our "poor" (lowest quintile) is rising and already higher that other societies, what does it matter how big the gap is? Rising standard of living is the right road. As Becker notes, where there is income equality as in China pre-1981, then everyone is chained to a very low standard of living. Income equality destroys incentive, consumes wealth and lowers living standards. If you choose income equality, try North Korea. But the standard of living for the average person in South Korea is far higher. The poor of South Korea have a higher standard of living than the vast majority of North Koreans. Where would you choose to live? The gap is not relevant, the living standard is. Second, Equal Opportunity and how to provide opportunity is the goal we should seek. There are so many examples of folks who have risen from poverty to success. Some are at the Hover Institution today. Most Americans come from poverty either recently or generations past. The real question should not be 'why are poor people poor?' it should be 'why aren't poor people successful?'. (Another question I read somewhere else.) We live in the land of opportunity, why aren't some taking advantage of it when so many others are? Third, Sorry to say it, but no additional amount of money thrown at educational institutions will stop people from dropping out of high school. Perhaps high schools should be tailored to not only offer College Prep but also skills training and certification such as welding, electrician, mechanic even software development. Wouldn't it be interesting to see a high school economics course based on books by Thomas Sowell? But all of this pales relative to dropping out of high school. How to encourage a HS education which is basic pathway for opportunity to climb up the income ladder? How to encourage people to even have a desire for self made success? More money at education is not the solution. Providing opportunities is what the institutions can offer. Instilling the desire in young people to succeed is where we fall short. It's something the government cannot do even through the coercion of its Utopian quest. We are all, each and everyone of us suffering from income inequality. Of course we are. Some really rich people in this country are making a whole lot more money than me and have a huge amount of wealth as compared to myself. Isn't that unfair? Wrong question. Isn't our standard of living in this country far beyond anything human beings have experienced in the past? Our middle class standards far exceeds that of royal aspirations just a few generations ago. How did that happen? Wealth creation. Differences in income and wealth distribution are merely artifacts of wealth creation and the meteoric rise of living standards. Discussions of how to equalize income are wrong headed. We should instead look how to provide incentive to take advantage of opportunities. Nick
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Jan 2, 2014