Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse
THE Democrats’ drubbing in the midterm elections was unfortunate on many levels, but particularly because the prospect of addressing income inequality grows dimmer, even as the problem worsens.
To only modest notice, during the campaign the Federal Reserve put forth more sobering news about income inequality: Inflation-adjusted earnings of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell between 2010 and 2013, with those near the bottom dropping the most. Meanwhile, incomes in the top decile rose.
Perhaps income disparity resonated so little with politicians because we are inured to a new Gilded Age.
But we shouldn’t be. Nor should we be inattentive to the often ignored role that government plays in determining income distribution in each country.
Here’s what’s rarely reported:
Before the impact of tax and spending policies is taken into account, income inequality in the United States is no worse than in most developed countries and is even a bit below levels in Britain and, by some measures, Germany.
However, once the effect of government programs is included in the calculations, the United States emerges on top of the inequality heap.