Message to Presidential Candidates: Income Inequality Is Good
Sept. 24, 2007
Irvine, CA--Presidential candidate Barack Obama is receiving lavish praise for giving a speech on Wall Street that included “tough talk” about the issue of “income inequality”--an issue that he and nearly every other presidential candidate regard as a crisis.
But, said Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, "there is no such crisis. Income inequality is a natural and desirable part of a free, prosperous society.
"Critics of income inequality act as if American wealth is a communal pie that belongs equally to all of us. But the vast wealth that exists in America has been created--through the productive activities and voluntary arrangements of individuals. And individuals do not necessarily create the same amount of wealth. Because all wealth is created, it rightly belongs to those who earn it (or their chosen beneficiaries)--and no one can rightly claim to deserve wealth earned by others.
"Critics of income inequality point to some legitimate problems, such as poor educational opportunities, growing healthcare costs, and stagnating wages--but these are the result, not of too much capitalism, but of government policies based on the same egalitarian mentality that denounces 'income inequality.' If business and wages were deregulated, we would see a dramatic rise in economic opportunity. If education and medicine were left free, with America's businessmen, doctors, and educators liberated to offer education and medicine at all different price points, we would see quality and price improvements like those for computers or flat-panel television sets. But these benefits of freedom require that we recognize the moral right of each individual to enjoy whatever he produces--and recognize that none of us has a right to something for nothing."
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Alex Epstein was a writer and a fellow on staff
at ARI between 2004 and 2011.