Income Disparity Is Good. Seriously.

by Darwin on November 20, 2011

Is income disparity good?  I guess it depends who you ask.  I like it.  I mean, I always knew I wanted to make more than the next guy. That notion of wanting something better for myself and my family has always driven me to push myself to continue to excel, learn more, take risks, work harder, and ultimately, earn more money and forgo the easy route.  In highschool, the only conversation I ever had with my guidance counselor was about choosing a college and a major.  My parents were invited in for the discussion.  They looked at my strengths and weaknesses and highlighted math/sciences as strengths and English/History as not-so-good (ironic because now I’m drawn more toward blogging and business pursuits than technical endeavors).  Anyway, I asked which degree makes the most money and the reply was Chemical Engineering.  So, that was that. It was a hard major but I thought it was worth it for the future professional opportunities it would afford me.  Fast-forward a few years and I worked to get out of the workaholic manufacturing plant lifestyle I was growing unhappy with, completed an MBA, various professional certifications, started blogging, co-founded an outsourcing business and continued to push myself both professionally and outside of work from an entrepreneurial standpoint.

I spend a lot of my time and effort and take personal and financial risk in pursuing some of these endeavors.  Do you think I would be doing so if there were no reward?  If we all basically ended up with the same income at the end of the year?  Of course not!  People are motivated by incentives.  Risk-taking, hard work and education are rewarded with higher incomes – INCOME DISPARITY.  Isn’t this something that benefits society?

Is poverty good?  No, it sucks.  My mother grew up poor.  Her father died when she was young and back then the country didn’t have much of a public safety net.  Growing up poor still haunts her to this day.  It’s not just a financial issue; it’s a lifestyle, a state of mind, a sense of shame that always follows you.  Don’t get me wrong, extreme income disparity can also mean that many people live in conditions that are unthinkable for those of means.  But what country doesn’t have poverty?  Even socialist and the left-leaning old Europe economies that Michael Moore so admires have extreme poverty.  I mean, the immigrants in Paris?  The gypsies in Italy?  I saw with my own eyes the signs warning us about pickpockets and read the warnings about gypsy children swarming and robbing Americans on travel.  Europe has had their own set of riots where the poor are seeking to be heard.  So, those are economies with noticeably lower income disparity than the US and yet poverty and harsh living conditions exist.  This isn’t to say that I’m complacent about poverty, but to highlight that the two issues aren’t necessarily a zero-sum game.  I wonder if there’s very little correlation actually.  You can have high income inequality AND a strong public safety net.

Income Disparity should be Celebrated, not Maligned – I think our President has done a great disservice to the country in pitting American against American, the have-nots versus the haves.  This constant portrayal of the successful as somehow being guilty and responsible for every gripe the disgruntled Americans have is misguided, naive and dangerous.  The prospect of financial reward is what made America great.  All these disgruntled OWS participants with their smartphones, social media and ability to communicate their message?  This is all thanks to incentives from capitalism.  Steve Jobs was rich as hell.  So are the founders of Google, Facebook, Twitter and many other tools they are using to voice their discontent.  None of these wonderful developments would have been present in their current form were it not for the entrepreneurial spirit – at risk capital, hard work, innovation – all of which create income disparity when they hit paydirt.

I feel I’ve adequately qualified my stance on poverty, but of course, there will be some who will seek to pounce on the theme that celebration of income disparity is somehow mocking the poor.  No, I am simply trying to get people who may initially recoil at the notion of the positives of income disparity to use their heads, stop acting like lemmings and actually employ some critical thinking here.  When I was a kid growing up, Americans celebrated financial success.  Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, remember that show?  Trying to emulate the success of others is what motivates us to become great and enriches our lives. Our current leaders now shame the rich and successful (while shamelessly fleecing the public retail investor with Insider Trading schemes and writing the rules that allow only them to participate legally).  They claim they serve the people, yet they enrich themselves during and after their terms in ludicrous fashion.  Hypocrisy at its finest.


What Are Your Views on Income Disparity?



Previous post:

Next post: