The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

February 19, 2014

Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Income inequality nothing next to time inequality

JOPLIN, Mo. — It is a fact that the wealth gap in America today is at its widest since 1929.

It is a fact that approximately 40 percent of this nation’s total wealth is controlled by the 1 percent at the top.

It is also a fact that with Harry Reid in danger of losing his iron grip on the U.S. Senate and with President Barack Obama’s last two years on the line, income inequality will be front and center.

The message is that if the few didn’t have as much, the many would have more.  

The main villain in that message is the sinister hedge fund manager. Yet if you review Forbes’ list of the 100 richest Americans, you’ll find only seven hedge fund managers. In a twist of irony that only a conservative can love, the richest of those, at No.19, is none other than George Soros, the Great and Powerful Oz of left-wing political causes. Media, tech, energy, retail and fashion account for over half the richest 100, with the rest as varied as the economy itself.

In short, Wall Street has its villains, but they’re not the driving cause of Obama’s latest crisis of the moment.

It’s a crisis that Obama might want to rethink.

The latest Gallup poll of the most important problem facing the United States shows unemployment/jobs, the economy in general and dissatisfaction with government as the priorities for a combined 62 percent of those polled. Income inequality isn’t even on the radar. Of the president’s 2014 trifecta (climate change, income inequality, immigration reform), only immigration made the top 10.

Another inconvenient fact is the news that income inequality has actually increased more in the five years  Obama has been at the helm of the economy than it did during the Bush and Clinton years combined.  

While much of the blame is put upon the North American Free Trade Agreement and heartless multinational corporations that close American factories for cheaper labor abroad, the truth is that the American middle class, as created by the growth of manufacturing in the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, was an economic anomaly.  

When the guns went silent in 1945, America became the world’s “company store,” and for the next three decades we raked in the profits.

But for years now, the company store has been steadily pricing itself out of the global market. Unrealistic union demands, ideology-driven government regulations and uncompetitive tax policies are all partners in the cause.

Automation has left millions of Americans with skills that are no longer needed, and social decay has given as many younger Americans educations and work ethics that are worthless in a modern economy. (The real world does not give trophies for participation.)

This is not to slight the issue; it is real and deserves attention. But as the Gallup poll shows, it is not our most urgent concern, nor will it be fixed with sound bites and pandering.

Fomenting hate and envy against the haves may turn out voters in November, but it will solve nothing.

If Obama were truly concerned about inequality and its effects on the nation, he would compare the time he devotes to speeches and leisure to the time he actually works in the office to which he was elected.

That is the president’s true crisis of inequality.

Geoff Caldwell writes on national and international affairs. He lives in Joplin. Contact him at gc@caldwellscorner.com.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Our View.jpg Our View: No need for No. 9

    “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: ‘Right to Farm’ is wrong

    On Aug. 5, voters will be asked to make a decision about Amendment 1.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: No on Amendment 7

    The Missouri Department of Transportation is wanting more money through a three-quarter-cent addition to the sales tax. Consider one example of how it spends your money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: Bad way to get revenue

    I received two fliers through the mail today asking me to vote “yes” on Amendment 7, which would add a three-quarter-cent tax to Missouri’s sales tax to help maintain roads and bridges.

    July 29, 2014

  • Other Views Other Views: Symptom of bad policy

    The Obama administration continues to be surprised and shocked when its policies of good intentions suddenly meet the hard reality of unintended consequences.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rebecca French Smith, guest columnist: Amendment 1: Farmers are 'boots on the ground'

    Take a moment and ask yourself who was the last person in your family to farm.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View; Makes no sense

    Chess was never my game. It’s too complicated.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Time value of money

     I was shaking my head along with Anson Burlingame (“Much has changed in U.S. over 14 years,” Globe, July 22), then he offered his readers a chance: “Go ahead — take your pick.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Boiling a frog

    We voters are now being urged to vote on Aug. 5 for Amendment 7 “to fix our roads, highways and bridges.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Our view: 'Yes' on 7

    Opponents of Amendment 7 say this: “Missouri families are already hard pressed to pay their bills during this period of slow economic recovery.”

    July 26, 2014

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
Sports