The Un-American Opposition to "Income Inequality"
Feb 13, 2007
Irvine, CA--Politicians and commentators from both parties are claiming that “income inequality” is a danger to America. They propose to alleviate it by raising taxes on the wealthy and expanding various welfare programs.
But, said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, “Income inequality--even vast income inequality--is a good thing. It is not income inequality but its critics that truly threaten this country.
“America is supposed to be a free nation, in which each individual can earn as much money as his ability and effort permit. If this results in vast ‘income inequality’--because different individuals in different professions with different abilities and work ethics create vastly different amounts of wealth--that is a good thing, not a problem for the government to ‘fix.’
“Opponents of income inequality complain that the wealthy ‘command’ an unfair share of national income--as if the wealth in America were a preexisting national pie, of which everyone is entitled an equal slice. But this is false. The vast wealth in America hasn’t fallen from the sky; it has been created through the productive activities of individuals in a free market. No one has a right to more money than he has freely earned--and no one has a right to claim that others have earned ‘too much.’
“For those who want to make more money, the solution is simple; enter a new field, develop new skills, start a business, or do anything else to make yourself more productive. But do not ask the government to loot the successful on your behalf. Nothing could be more unjust or more un-American than that.”
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Alex Epstein was a writer and a fellow on staff
at ARI between 2004 and 2011.