What if financial inequality isn’t always bad?

Bernie Sanders and his belief in the economic healing powers of democratic socialism was a major point of interest for everyone this election cycle. During the October 13th Democratic debate hosted by CNN, Senator Sanders stated income inequality was the reason the U.S. has so many living in poverty and possessed declining middle class. Bottom line–he’s mad not everyone gets paid the same amount.

To that I say: yea…welcome to capitalism. A cold, mean system where people who work their keisters off(and have some street smarts) can get rich and famous, and people who don’t die poor and unknown. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, but it has some justice if you think about it.

The woman or man who went to college for a decade to become a brain surgeon doesn’t get compensated equally as the guy or gal working the deep fryer down at the local Burger King. The skills learned and tested from those ten years are deemed valuable and traded for more money in the market. The 17-year-old high school student at your favorite fast food place might offer to perform your brain surgery for cheap, but how highly do you value his/her medical skills? Enough to hand him/her a scalpel? Similarly, isn’t it justified for a person who had an idea, poured their blood, sweat and tears into it to make it grow, and turned it into a global organization employing hundreds, to be allowed to receive their reward? After all, rewards can inspire others to work a little harder to make that good idea work; to turn that good idea into good jobs.

Socialism, in a way, punishes those who succeed financially. Through taxes, it takes away the earned reward. Let’s face it, it’s not like a form of this isn’t already happening: the top 1% of earners pay around 40% of all taxes, the bottom 80% pay around 15%, and the very bottom 20%…essentially nothing. It’s all those taxes that fund social programs, the military, and thousands of government jobs.

Comparing the US to other developed nations is also a double-edged sword when it comes to inequality. While the US does not have the largest population in the world, it does have the most millionaires and billionaires. We can thank those folks, those 1 percenters, for giving almost giving $80 billion to charity in 2012(people making under $100k gave $57 billion) making the US the most charitable nation in the world. Technically, tied with Myanmar, but when it comes to raw dollar amounts, the US is able to give much more.

More inequality exists when we compare the U.S. to other countries in relation to judging what poverty looks like. The word “poverty” brings to mind a malnourished child drinking water out of a gourd while sitting in the dirt. The sad truth is that would be poverty for places like Haiti, but not the U.S.

  • 80% of poor Americans have air conditioning
  • 92% have microwaves
  • Almost 75% have a vehicle– 31% have two or more
  • 96% of poor parents said their children were not hungry at any time simply because they could not afford food (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

Financial equality is very real, but when it comes to taxes, charity, and our nation’s poor, what if it isn’t a bad thing? 

Sources

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-do-european-countries-afford-free-college-2015-6
  2. https://berniesanders.com/issues/income-and-wealth-inequality/
  3. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/13/top-1-pay-nearly-half-of-federal-income-taxes.html
  4. http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/top10-percent-income-earners
  5. http://www.wsj.com/articles/top-20-of-earners-pay-84-of-income-tax-1428674384
  6. http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2015/06/30/12-countries-with-most-millionaires-2015-world-wea?page=13
  7. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-americas-rich-are-giving-less-of-their-wealth-to-charity-2014-10-23
  8. https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf_wgi2014_report_1555awebfinal.pdf
  9. http://givingusa.org/giving-usa-2015-press-release-giving-usa-americans-donated-an-estimated-358-38-billion-to-charity-in-2014-highest-total-in-reports-60-year-history/
  10. http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2011/pdf/bg2607.pdf
  11. http://geography.about.com/od/europemaps/tp/scandinavia.htm
  12. http://haitipartners.org/about-us/haiti-statistics/
  13. http://aspe.hhs.gov/2015-poverty-guidelines
  14. http://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-are-annual-earnings-full-time-minimum-wage-worker
  15. https://reason.com/blog/2015/04/30/scandinavia-is-a-collectivist-paradise
  16. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/08/who-makes-minimum-wage/
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