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Redistributing WEALTH v. Redistributing OPPORTUNITY

August 17, 2019

A friend on Facebook who published a book recently offered this editorial he wrote for his local paper as a “tease” to entice people to buy his book:


Who owns most of the wealth in America? Evidence from Income Tax data shows that the top 10% of American families owned 77% of our nation’s wealth. The remaining 90% owned only 23%. The nation’s richest wealth holders, the top 1% alone owned 42% of the nation’s wealth. Their share of wealth has steadily grown since the late 1970s.

And get this, most of this increase in wealth happened in the top 0.1%, which includes about 160,000 households. This chart, which appears in my book “Freedom Denied – How ‘Big Government’ and America’s Elites Enslave Minorities,” shows how the top 0.1% share of wealth grew from 7% in 1978 to 22% in 2012, a level comparable to the 25% reached in 1929 just prior to the stock market crash and the beginning of the great depression. That’s when many millionaires became paupers almost overnight. If we project that steep rise from 2012 to 2019, we may have already gone beyond that 25% point. Is another great depression looming?

What has caused the “Rich” top 1% and the “Super Rich” top 0.1% to gain so much wealth while the rest of America has seen their wealth decline? Tax loopholes continue to favor the rich, while among the working class, wage stagnation and falling ‘real’ wages, not keeping up with inflation, are major factors. Mortgage debt, consumer credit debt, and student debt has contributed to falling wealth among the middle class.

A politician’s answer to wealth inequality might be to throw massive amounts of Government money at the problem and even advocate a major redistribution of wealth by taking money (through taxation) from the wealthiest and giving it to those who are less fortunate. However, a much better approach is to determine how we got ourselves into this mess to begin with and then correct those misdirected Government policies that have caused all the damage.

I take an in depth look at how the welfare state, although beginning with good intentions in the mid-1960s, has caused many able-bodied men and women to lose incentive to climb out of poverty. And how an over-supply of cheap illegal immigrant labor, sanctioned by sanctuary cities and states, has caused a massive decline in wages for the working class. Unfortunately, minorities have suffered the most by this downturn in wages. And sad to say Vermont, being a sanctuary State, has done nothing to stop business owners, both Democrat and Republican, from increasing their profits on the backs of illegal immigrant workers.

I was interested to see a conservative identify wealth inequality as a major problem in our country, and also interested to see how he linked it to the government programs in the “welfare state”. One of his friends pushed back softly with this rejoinder:

From about 1950-1970 income and wealth grew evenly at all levels. This was largely caused by two factors: the GI bill and investment in infrastructure (e.g. the Eisenhower interstate highway system).

To which I added:

And the last time I looked these were government programs… it’s no accident that the money is trickling upwards. The plutocrats are paying good money to get those loopholes written in to the tax laws to starve the government programs that COULD restore the mechanisms that were in place in 1950-1970 to provide opportunity redistribution.

To the best of my knowledge, OPPORTUNITY redistribution has never been used as a response to the conservative/libertarian argument that “WEALTH redistribution” is a losing proposition… and it is the lack of opportunity that discourages people from entering the workforce… especially if the entry into the work force results in the total loss of health care and limits the access to many of the services they receive if they are “on welfare”. It isn’t easy to enter the workforce if you are a single parent whose job was eliminated by offshoring or the advent of robots. The best way to get able bodied workers off of welfare is to offer them OPPORTUNITY instead of money: past them into jobs that pay a living wage and offer them an opportunity for stability or advancement and they will gladly work instead of doing nothing. How to do that? It seems to be that a stronger government-funded safety net of vocational services in needed. But maybe I’ll need to buy my Facebook friend’s book to see how free enterprise can solve the problem better.

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