False Premise of “Income Equality”

Equalityby Patricia L. Dickson10/16/15
I received an email a while back from a college student asking for my comments on the issue of income inequality for a research paper he was doing.  My response to him was in the form of a few questions.

How can everyone earn equal income?  Where is it written that everyone can or should earn equal income?  How does one arrive at his or her income to begin with?  Are we to expect someone with only a high school education and little work experience to earn the same income as someone with at least a four-year degree?  Are we to expect a social worker to earn the same income as a chemist, engineer, or medical doctor?

I informed him that an individual’s income is a combination of his or her level of education and experience.  I concluded the email with the following comments:

The entire income inequality movement is just rhetoric to inflame hearts and divide people. No logical person really believes that the income disparity between the rich (mostly educated) and the poor (uneducated) can ever be equal. If so, please explain to me how it could be possible.

After listening to Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’s comments during the first Democrat debate, I have since given this issue more thought.  I now realize that the issue of income inequality is based on a false premise.  A premise is a proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn.  A false premise is an incorrect proposition that forms the basis of an argument – since the premise (proposition or assumption) is not correct, the conclusion drawn may be in error.[pullquote]The false premise behind income inequality complaints is that income is distributed instead of earned.[/pullquote]

The false premise behind income inequality complaints is that income is distributed instead of earned.  If it is a fact that income is distributed instead of earned, I would like to pose a few questions.  Who is responsible for distributing it?  Who decides the amount of income to distribute?  What factors are used to arrive at the income amount?  If income is supposed to be distributed equally, does it matter the number of hours employees work?  What about the different skill levels required for certain jobs?  If a population is supposed to earn equal income, why have institutions of higher learning?

This by no means is an exhaustive list of questions for this premise.  I would like for liberals (Clinton and Sanders) to provide some specifics to how they plan to fix the alleged income inequality problem in America.  When liberals speak about income inequality and the wealth gap, we notice that they replace the word “earn” with “distribute.”  If they were to use the word “earn,” it might trigger the words “work” and “merit” to enter the conversation.  Liberals believe that for someone to merit his or her income based on hard work is just not fair.  If we examine any liberal stance on any issue, whether it is gun control or abortion, we will find that it is built on a false premise.


PatriciaDicksonPatricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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22 Responses to False Premise of “Income Equality”

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    It’s a child-like orientation to life to sit around and expect “income” to be redistributed. It’s as if the idea of skills and a marketplace are too complicated. Yutes have retained the child-like idea of passively getting an “allowance” from their parents.

    That’s making the grand and generous assumption, of course, that “income equality” isn’t just a parasitic attempt to grab some of other people’s money.

    Excellent article and analysis, Patricia.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    If we examine any liberal stance on any issue, whether it is gun control or abortion, we will find that it is built on a false premise.

    The Left is built upon a false premise, to wit, “humans are basically good and infinitely malleable thus, with a little guidance, utopia in achievable on earth.”

    As to income, I would say the most important determinants are one’s productivity and demand for one’s services. In the end, it comes down to what and how much we do to fulfill the needs and desires of others.

    • M Farrell says:

      Great essay, Patricia–
      I have an answer to the “when can we have equal income distribution” question. It is reached after years of consistently working 65-80 hour weeks in a family business– You can have “income equality” when you are willing to have “work ethic/determination/effort equality”– Unfortunately, I’m afraid my answer may not be very popular– 80 hour weeks tend to take all the fun out of it for the activists– But it is the real world if you truly want to succeed–

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You can have “income equality” when you are willing to have “work ethic/determination/effort equality”

        C’est exact, as the little egg-headed detective from Belgium might say. But, M Farrell, you’re thinking represents “old style” thinking, the social and economic theories of yesteryear. Now we know better. Now we know that “the rich” are like the grapefruit that can be squeezed and squeezed an always you will get more juice.

        And the idea of earning something is passé. I do believe the socialist mindset approaches things as being entitled. Patricia hit on that when she opined that wages were not something to be earned but something to be distributed.

        We may laugh at this naive disconnection with reality. But we have such a person as president of the United States. In fact, Western Civilization is infected by a significant percentage of people who have gotten their theories from Freud, Marx, and Alinsky rather than, say, Jesus, Adam Smith, and Jefferson.

        To be on the Left is to be corrupt, uninformed, and ignorant and to be quite certain that this is true of others.

  3. drowningpuppies says:

    Ex Falso Quodlibet — from a falsehood anything follows.

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    One crucial difference between Americans and Europeans (which, unfortunately, today includes many living in America) is that (according to surveys) the former generally believe that you earn what you receive on your own merits, whereas the latter generally believe that what you receive is determined by the decisions of those over you in the hierarchy. Naturally, the former have little interest in income equality (except for the envious, perhaps), whereas the latter naturally tend to favor it.

  5. Ronald J. Ward says:

    The author here presents a rather specious and flawed argument. It assumes that there’s really no pay inequality and if there is, why should the less educated or less skilled expect the same as those that are.

    I’m not sure where that’s coming from as I’m not aware of anyone advocating such. No person, idealolgies, or political party that I’m aware of are suggesting that. This reminds me of the silly argument from the right trying to debunk minimum wage increases with “well, why not $100 an hour”. Again, no one is advocating that and even your far left liberals understand $100 MW would do more harm than good just as they know higher educated should make more than lower. What’s being sought is a balance.

    History defies your argument on several fronts. Surely, you’d agree that “the deck was stacked” against pre civil slaves who wanted to rise above. Regardless of their ambition and desires, they didn’t have the tools, support, or ability to do so. And at that very era, steel workers in the north didn’t do much better as while they had their “freedom”, they were paid enough for food and lived in tents. This was also true in the early century coal minds where employees were basically “owned” or entrapped by the “company store”. We again saw this in the industrial boom of the 30s when entire families (children included) worker extremely long hours in unsafe sweat shops for mere survival.

    All of the above cases represent an inequality. In all of the above, very productive people brought huge profits to their employers (or owners) but weren’t compensated accordingly. So the problem with the authors argument is that it seems to suggest that asking for a fair days pay for a fair day of work is akin to demanding the same level of compensation as their superiors. That’s just not the case.

    And the very inequalities of years ago are returning. We have highly profitable businesses actually providing training seminars instructing employees on how to apply for government assistance, forcing what’s left of the middle class to subsidize their payload. We have today’s so-called conservatives demanding no MW increases or even eliminating it all together, advocating ending Pell Grants and other educational assistance, going after workers bargaining rights like never before, all while demanding less regulations for the employers. Their initiatives create an imbalance for poor and uneducated, enslaving them regardless of their abilities.

    There seems to be the usual “I got mine” mindset of the right, that underpaid workers are underpaid by their choice, their lack of initiative or productivity. That’s by and largely false as workers today are returning record profits to their employers, just as they did for their plantation owners, sweat shops, coal mines, railroad industry and on and on.

    What’s needed is a balance, something many of today’s so-called conservatives prefer to cover their ears and sing “la la la ” to.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The victimhood paradigm can write a blank check for any situation. Ron, your are one big walking, talking leftist talking point. A shame, really.

      Anyone who doesn’t understand that “income inequality” is just another word for socialism is either not very bright or not very honest. Make the case for government redistributing wealth, if you will. But save us from your convoluted Leftist screed.

  6. Ronald J. Ward says:

    Brad, you seem to come across more as a resident troll than someone serious about engaging in an adult discusion by changing dialog to diatribe. Your objective sems more to kabitz rather than contribute.

    You cover your ears to the reality of history and the exploitation and oppression of minorities and the poor, as if they never happen.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Congratulations on that clever piece of projection. You must have some very good educational resources under your bridge.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ron, you are the ravenous wolf of socialism wrapped up in the sheep’s clothing of “caring.”

      You don’t help “the poor’ by wrecking the system that makes people not poor. You seethe with envy for the rich under the guise of caring for the poor.

      But if you have no knowledge of human nature and economics other than the class-envy Marxism you’ve been spoon-fed by whomever, then as they say “If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you.”

      And that’s where it stops. The rest is up to you. It is incumbent upon you to grow past your noxious Marxism and promote those things that help people prosper, including hard work, getting an education, not doing crime, not doing drugs, not having children out of wedlock, saving your ha’pennies instead of blowing them on short-term distractions, perseverance, personal responsibility, taking risks…everything but sitting back and blaming “the rich.”

      If you really care for “the poor,” you will do those things and work also for any injustices that do exist. But it’s not an injustice that someone has prospered and someone else hasn’t. There are many factors to take into account. But one thing is for sure, in America, if you are willing to work for it, you can do well. Not everyone will be Bill-Gates rich. But could one really expect that?

      As soon as you make your ideology wider than utopia and grievance you will find a wider world of opportunity. You will find much to praise and far much less that you need to wantonly destroy.

      • Ronald J. Ward says:

        Your rebutal has little to do with my argument.

        The only thing I can gather from your distraction is that one must kowtow to today’s so-called conservative’s plutocratic and social Darwinism agenda lest they be a Marxist. One must never mention the atrocities of the history I mentionef lest they be a Marxist. One cannot even demand an honest days pay for an honest day of work lest they be a Marxist. Any mention of balance, by your definition, constitutes Marxism.

        One must even appease the most wealthy in their obvious utilization of tax payers money to subsidize their low wage employees or tbey are surely a Marxist.

        Again, it’s apparent you have no interest in debating on any adult or rational level.

  7. Liberals always bring up slavery and pre-civil rights when addressing current issues. This is 2015 and no one has an excuse for being poor. It is a choice that poor abled-bodied adults have chosen. There are so many FREE educations and training opportunities available that are specifically targeted for poor and low income people.

    “Their initiatives create an imbalance for poor and uneducated, enslaving them regardless of their abilities”.

    What abilities do the poor and uneducated have? If anyone is enslaving the poor and uneducated, it is they who are doing it to themselves because they refuse to get education and training. As far as raising the minimum wage, what exactly does the low wage worker offer the employer other than his or her labor? It is the employer that is taking all the risk and therefore deserves the profits. The employer is the one that supplies the grills that the employee uses to flip the burgers. The employer also provides the burgers, uniform, condiments, building, tables and chairs, utilities, mop and bucket ….etc. All that the employee offers is the labor. The same is true for manufacturing. The employer provides the building, equipment, tools, machinery, materials used to manufacture the part. The employee only brings the labor. To comment on an imbalance in income today by referring to what supposedly happen almost two-hundred years ago is ridiculous.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The unspoken assumption behind raising the minimum wage is that the law is mandating the minimum value of labor, which (of course) it can’t. That’s why it’s an unspoken assumption. When the cost of labor exceeds its value, the result is unemployment. I gather even Paul Krugman used to admit this.

    • Ronald J. Ward says:

      Patrica, the use of the word “supposedly ” in your last sentence validates how disconnected you are from reality and to what length you’ll go to support your radical and unhinged mindset.

      Obviously, intellectual honesty has no place in your arguments.

      • Ronald, it says a lot about you when all you chose to comment on is one word in my last sentence. How about you refute my contention that the employer takes on all the risk while the employee (worker) brings only the labor? I would really like to hear your refute about my suggestion that poverty in 2015 is a choice since there are endless educational opportunities for the poor.

        • Ronald J. Ward says:

          Ronald, it says a lot about you when all you chose to comment on is one word in my last sentence.

          That very statement is a denial that the one word is so overwhelmingly and profoundly telling, which it is.

          I don’t disagree that the employer is subject to risk whereas the employee has virtually nothing to lose. I’ve never advocated such. As a matter of fact, I’ve owned businesses as well as contracted and worked for others. Even when asked how I felt about working for whoever, I’ve responded with “It’s great. The only 2 problems in my life today is getting to work on time and what’s in my lunch box”.

          But the above is really not the argument and for you to be evasive of present and previous working conditions and changing the subject is. I says nothing about inequality. It says nothing about how even Ted Cruz admitted that $10 or $11 an hour is not a livable wage yet he has absolutely no interest in pursuing a livable wage for his constituents.

          Now that I’ve responded to your argument as well as my selection of “one word”, may I asked why you cherry picked one topic (“Liberals always bring up slavery and pre-civil rights when addressing current issues”) as paramount when it only represented one example? I mentioned the coal mine “company store” which you ignored, the plight of northern steel workers which you ignored, the sweat shops of the industrial boom which you ignored, and even the very reality that today’s businesses are actually banking on government assistance subsidizing their employee’s pay which again, you as well as all of your cohorts and resident trolls ignored. You completely ignored the argument of any “balance”, as if by some logic, the top very wealthy will either create that balance (if they get rich enough) or there’s simply no need for any balance whatsoever.

          And again, you don’t fully buy into the argument that slaves didn’t have a fair playing field to get ahead, that it “supposedly happened” and accordingly, argumentative. So when you imply that perhaps the pre civil war slaves were a product of their own making (“what supposedly happen almost two-hundred years ago”) while covering your ears and singing “la la la” to any and all other examples, it becomes obvious that you only see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear and all other relevant statistics, facts, and reality be damned, it renders you as a blind political hack uninterested in reality.

          But I’ll give you this, you aren’t all that inconsistent with the lot of today’s so-called conservatives.

          • Ronald, you are definitely a liberal!!! Where is it written that a $10-$11 wage was supposed to be a living wage? Let me make it a little simpler for you. Only high school and college kids should be working at establishments that pay minimum wage. Why would an adult in 2015 be earning only $10 an hour? Why would he or she not be able to earn an income comparable to a living wage? Don’t think too hard and long about….. I will answer it for you. Lack of EDUCATION or SKILLS!!!!! Whose fault is it that an adult (especially one with a family) only makes minimum wage in 2015? Whose fault is it that any abled-body adult in 2015 does not have any skills or education?

            • Ronald J. Ward says:

              You cowardly ran for every single question I asked, every single argument I made, and every example I gave you, only to regurgitate the non sequitur talking points which only in an imaginary world suffice as a coherent rebuttal. And this comes after your rubber/glue game of accusing me of cherry picking.

              You again seem to stand by (as you don’t counter) your weak tea innuendo that the ability of slaves to rise above was a product of their own making, a result of their own lack of motivation-as I suppose were those of the miners, industrial boom workers, and I suppose children sold in 3rd world countries to the marketplace.

              Aside from you coming up empty handed on every issue of substance, you are indeed an argumentative fraud in every aspect.

              • Ronald, the reason I keep ignoring your argument about slaves is because it has NO relevance in this discussion! The article is about the false premise of the subject of income inequality TODAY. Of course the slaves could not rise above their situation, they were SLAVES. Are you that insane that you think that I am saying that the slaves inability to rise above their situation was due to their own making? What does that have to do with today? No one today is a slave. Every citizen today is FREE. You cannot compare the conditions that the slaves, miners and industrial boom workers experienced to what is going on today. If that is what you are doing Mr. Ward, please explain the connection.

              • Ronald J. Ward says:

                One more time, slavery was 1 mere example, not the argument. What part of that trips you up so?

                So, you seem to agree that miners and early industrial workers were at a disadvantage. Are we not seeing today and do you not advocate removing the very balance that allowed them to rise above and give us the middle class?

                You mention above that $10 or $11 an hour was never meant to be a livible wage yet that figure is is much higher than the current MW. It’s actually a wage that many non union employers and even government contractors are paying.
                It’s even a wage that many educated people are forced to rely on.

                What precisely inspired or allowed the coal miners and sweat shop workers to rise above? Ambition? Education?

                When you can honestly answer that, please put that in perspective with what’s happening today.

  8. David Ray says:

    Those two cry-babies Dan Rather & Mary Mapes are promoting the movie version of Mapes’ embarrasing book failure “TRUTH and DUTY”. (Liberals never miss an opportunity for ham-fisted bloaviating titles.)

    The movie will flop worse than Sean Penn in “Fair Game”. Any chance that those pampered fools will “share the wealth” will their movie salaries?

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