Jordan Peterson recently went on the Joe Rogan Experience and talked a little bit about income inequality.
And although he wasn’t nearly as mistaken as a committed leftist on this issue, I did sense that the two share a common, basic premise.
Deep down, Peterson seemed to agree that governments need to tackle the problem of income inequality, albeit in a way that doesn’t hurt the economy’s efficiency. Peterson doesn’t think “we” know how to do that, yet.
This is quite a popular mentality when it comes to income inequality, and utterly dominates the political left.
I call this Stage 1 thinking: Identify an uncomfortable attribute of a country’s economy, such as the large variations in economic well-being amongst all the individuals; point to research that says income inequality drives crime; call on politicians to figure it out.
Clearly, Stage 1 rests on an assumption that “government” is an institution staffed with wise, doctor-like technicians standing on-call to heal the market economy from its own inherently fatal diseases.
But are we really to be so naive as to join the chorus and implore the politicians to end their wicked timidity in solving this issue? Have politicians in the government really just sat by all these years in commitment to laissez-faire principle and let their constituents become more and more unfairly unequal? Are politicians ever reticent to jump in and interfere with the economy when they can buy some more votes?
At this blog, readers are already aware of a thousand different arguments against government “solutions” to income inequality: such things as the difference between malicious political entrepreneurs and productive market entrepreneurs; that government policies (like printing money and handing it out to banks…) are already driving income inequality; that income inequality can go hand-in-hand with rising living standards for all groups of people; that income inequality statistics are often (intentionally?) misleading; that government “solutions” are always laden with unintended consequences that will eventually justify their own set of boondoggled surgical policy procedures; and on and on…
In other words, far from contriving some ingenious plan to tackle inequality, the best thing governments could do is to drastically reduce the strain and disruptions they’re already piling onto their economies.
There are countless reasons why we object to the idea that it ought to be a politician’s role to keep a watchful eye on the levels of income inequality. But these reasons are so far outside of the purview covered by the Stage 1 radar, and unfortunately the left seems more and more entrenched in this mode of thinking by the day.