Manufactured outrage over ordinary facts of life in the press lately isn’t just about what happens to the price of certain goods affected by a negative supply shock. In fact, just yesterday there was an article on Bloomberg.com talking about the ever growing income gap, complete with rather nice looking pie charts, attempting to stir the pot of class warfare ever so slightly. While a rather nicely done and almost convincing work of literary flair, it is badly in need of a reality check.
There have always been folks scattered throughout different levels of wealth, or at least what at the comparable time is considered wealth, ever since the dawn of man. As I recall, in the 20th century there were some rather large experiments in attempting to close that perceived gap conducted over perhaps more than half of the inhabitable geography of the world. Any attempt I would make to describe the ultimate failure of each would be but an extremely pitiful understatement; so I shall not try, except to say that it resulted in mass human tragedy far more often than not. And of course recollection isn’t all that difficult considering that the fall of communism began in my late teens while fear of it had existed in pop culture until then. We all lived with the knowledge of its existence, going about our lives pretending to ignore it as we hoped that we would never have to personally confront it. Some say, “Live free or die,” while others say, “Better red than dead.” Fortunately, none of us ever had to choose between confrontation and capitulation; but I suppose it wouldn’t be hard to guess which one certain journalists would choose.
The world appears to me to be a much angrier place than it was a decade ago. People have many things to be angry about lately indeed, and I seriously question the wisdom of sharing this particular kind of anger or worse; trying to drum it up where it is not. I believe there are so many real problems nagging most of us, this kind of article can have only one real purpose – to light a match under the kindling.
Although I could be wrong. It could be just another one of those sad tales of stupidity in the tragic demise of the civilized world. The history books are full of facts and conjecture about the world as it was just 50 years ago – and we already know how that chapter ends. Yet, some people never learn or perhaps they think the American version of the same tale for the future would be much better, less painful, less killing, less death and dying.
There is no way to eliminate the income gap without reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator which I suppose eventually is zero. These people are talking fairness, not about giving. They are talking about punishment and taking and it means far more than just money because any society that tears itself down ends up left that way, reverberating hardship for generations. And the apparent contradiction of this philosophy and the rest of the goings on about public debt is apparently lost on the author, editors, and publisher of such irony because just exactly how the debt is to be repaid after such contemptuous coveting toward those with large incomes turns actionable is quite murky. I happen to lean toward not wanting to find out. That particular genie cannot be put back into the bottle.
So my challenge to these people is this: If we want to avoid what I will call unintended consequences of leveling, I suggest that dissemination of such material is irresponsible, at the very least. If you don’t know what leveling is, find a good book about pre and post-Cromwell eras in the British history section of the local library. It’s quite a fascinating tale about revolutionaries seeking freedom getting the shaft and shafting the rest of the populace along with them. Retribution has a very strange way of reflecting back on those seeking that particular kind of justice and really is not the path we want to go down if the intentions are good. No, in my opinion, I don’t believe it gets any better than the way the world was 10-15 years ago; and I’d much rather return to that.
Update: I apparently spent a lot of time writing about this for no good reason. The article is gone and there is nothing to link to. I am not sorry at all about this development and I applaud Bloomberg for the good sense to take it down.