Radical Idea: Grow the pie rather than worrying about carving up the pie we have.
Well here’s something different.
As Netroots Nation cries out for income and wealth distribution and props up the class warrior Elizabeth Warren to cult status, some careful economic analysis finds that income inequality is decreasing globally and that redistribution in the U.S. would hurt the developing world.
In an Op-Ed in The NY Times, George Mason Univ. economist Tyler Cowan writes, Income Inequality Is Not Rising Globally. It’s Falling:
Income inequality has surged as a political and economic issue, but the numbers don’t show that inequality is rising from a global perspective. Yes, the problem has become more acute within most individual nations, yet income inequality for the world as a whole has been falling for most of the last 20 years. It’s a fact that hasn’t been noted often enough.
The finding comes from a recent investigation by Christoph Lakner, a consultant at the World Bank, and Branko Milanovic, senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center. And while such a framing may sound startling at first, it should be intuitive upon reflection. The economic surges of China, India and some other nations have been among the most egalitarian developments in history….
The message from groups like Occupy Wall Street has been that inequality is up and that capitalism is failing us. A more correct and nuanced message is this: Although significant economic problems remain, we have been living in equalizing times for the world — a change that has been largely for the good. That may not make for convincing sloganeering, but it’s the truth.
That has important implications for domestic policy, Cowen continues:
Many egalitarians push for policies to redistribute some income within nations, including the United States. That’s worth considering, but with a cautionary note. Such initiatives will prove more beneficial on the global level if there is more wealth to redistribute.
In the United States, greater wealth would maintain the nation’s ability to invest abroad, buy foreign products, absorb immigrants and generate innovation, with significant benefit for global income and equality.
In other words, the true egalitarian should follow the economist’s inclination to seek wealth-maximizing policies, and that means worrying less about inequality within the nation.
Trying to grow the pie rather than obsessing with dividing the pie we have.
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