Thursday, March 12, 2015

The True Inequality Gap . . . and the Fix

There’s been much talk in recent years about the Income Inequality Gap. The inequality gap, it seems, has become a popular rallying cry to increase the amount of welfare funded by the achievers. Bummer really, because there is a remedy to fill in the gap, but this fostering of government dependence is not it.

Think about someone that you admire or respect. It is probably that person’s achievements, skills, or successes fueling your admiration. That’s a healthy reaction. The alternative is envy resulting from these same successes or achievements. Envy is the basis for the Inequality Gap rallying cry. There are a number of bureaucrats in government, and their obedient citizens, sparking this interest angling for an extra poke through the paychecks of the achievers.

This talk of an Inequality Gap aims to reduce the gap by reducing the take home pay of the highest earners. A true fix would, instead, reduce the gap by allowing for those on the lower end to raise themselves up. Envy fuels an endless cycle of coveting the assets of those on top, even if those on top had once been on the bottom and ascended due to the strength of their success. By this current ‘rallying cry’ formula, they will have become the target of envy and must themselves be taken down.

If, however, praising of achievement became the new rallying cry, the endless cycle would become one of strengthening support as people strive for their own success rather than shaking down someone else’s. The goal should be to raise oneself up to decrease the gap, not bring someone else down to achieve that end.

In fact, let’s dig deeper and find the cause of the income inequality gap. The cause is a result of a Values gap. Find out what compels a successful person to attend night school and seek an MBA? What motivates someone to sacrifice leisurely evenings at home instead to work 70 hours a week to get their business off the ground? What inspires someone to prepare at night for the next day at work instead of watching television deep into the night? How does someone find the stamina to cobble together two and three decades in an industry learning and honing skills that ultimately result in a commendable income? Encourage people on the lower spectrum of the gap, if they are interested in bettering their position as measured in this way, to emulate a few of these values. If inequality resolution is sought, address the cause, not the visible symptom of the gap.

There is nowhere else in the world, outside the United States, where upward mobility is such a realistic possibility, but only if people put in the effort and strive for success. Let the endless cycle of achievement fuel each generation to build on the successes of the generations before them. Filling in the Income Inequality Gap comes with building each other up, not banding together to tear down a few.