A new term has emerged as the defining jargon of contemporary Economic-Socio-Political discourse. Inequality. Not the legal inequality that concerned great thinkers of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution. Economic inequality plain and simple - as in some people have more money than others. Once this jargon becomes the accepted vernacular, and inequality becomes the perspective from which we look at the economy and society, it follows that the role of the Government is to equalize these differences. Then the debate becomes a discussion as to what degree the Government should redistribute wealth, not if the government should.
Recently I came across Thomas Piketty, a highly touted french economist who has done some supposedly groundbreaking statistical analysis of the accumulation of wealth over the past 200 hundred years in Great Britain and the United States. If I understand it correctly, his point is that it is natural for wealth to accumulate ( i.e the Rich get richer...) in Capitalist systems, and therein lies the inherent weakness of Capitalism. In fact, according to Piketty, Capitalism would have collapsed - for reasons that are even more fundamental then those Marx posited - except both World Wars interrupted the destructive process of wealth accumulation. Piketty's prescription for "saving Capitalism" is to tax wealth to the point of nonexistence.
Given that there are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics - or 3 kinds of witnesses: liars, damned liars, and experts - I will not use this space to look at the historic statistical record. That is beside the point. The concept that economic inequality is wrong, and the ideal society is one with little or no income inequality is where the discussion has run off the tracks. But some people will not look at how we can create more jobs and more wealth when they will not accept that economic inequality is the natural result of free economic interaction. And those who are fixated on increasing inequality are no more likely to accept another perspective than those who were taught to see everything thru the lens of Class Warfare.
That is why I would like to shift this discussion to Baseball. Here we have a sport - a world unto its own - that also has long statistical history studied, perhaps as much if not more, than the economy. Inequality is rampant in Baseball. This is reflected in the wide range of Batting Averages, Earned Run Averages, Fielding Percentages, Win/Loss records - AND SALARIES!
Would Baseball be a better sport if the Baseball Kommisar ruled that these inequalities are bad? In the ideal Baseball League, everybody will hit .230. All Pitchers will have a 3.75 ERA. Fielders will have the right to appeal Errors to the Error Review Board. And of course Stealing a base will be illegal. All teams would finish at .500 and all players would be paid the same, give or take small adjustments for the size of their family... I can see no benefit of this kind of interference - except for the fact that this system would have prevented the inordinate dominance of the New York Yankees! - it would ruin Baseball.
People who would do the same to the economy will only make matters worse.
Until we identify the real problems that face us we will never succeed in overcoming them.