Income Inequality is Not Evil

I can’t turn on the radio without hearing someone opine about problems of income inequality. Apparently, it’s something Dear Reader will be tackling in the coming year.


Sit down kiddies. Here’s something else they aren’t teaching you in school.

Some people deserve to make more money than other people. Some people deserve nicer houses and nicer cars. And this is the way it should be.

To put it another way, I’m willing to pay someone more to extract a brain tumor than I am for someone to scrub my toilet. If you only ever attain toilet scrubbing skills, you are only entitled to toilet scrubber wages. (Which will be paid to you by someone that makes enough money to pay someone else to scrub their toilets.) Want more money? You have two choices. Find a way to scrub a lot more toilets or develop a more valuable skill.

I’ve heard the manipulative ‘living wage’ stories going around. Some guy has been flipping burgers for 20 years and still only makes minimum wage. It’s not enough to support his family. I’m supposed to feel sorry for them? Get a better damn job. The clown isn’t going to pay you more than the going burger flipper rate. If you tell them you are not going to flip burgers for less than $15 an hour, they are going to show you the door and hire someone that will flip them for less. Either that, or they will buy a machine. They don’t owe you a ‘living wage’, they owe you fair market compensation for the service you are providing.

Go ahead, force the clown to raise the wages. Oops! Good-bye dollar menu. What? You didn’t see that coming? Hello touch screen ordering kiosks and cashier layoffs. Oops again! You know who they are going to pay a living wage? The programmer that keeps those kiosks running and the engineer that created the burger flipping machine. Congratulations! You’ve succeeded in lower the number of under-employed people. We’ll just forget to mention the dramatic increase in the number of unemployed.

It’s all a cost-benefit analysis. As long as it is cheaper to hire someone to scrub the toilets than it is to purchase and maintain high-tech self scrubbing toilets, the toilet scrubber will have a job. You start tipping that scale and things change pretty quickly. You see, the guy that signs the checks only cares about having clean toilets. He hired the toilet scrubber so his crapper would sparkle. If a machine can do it cheaper, so be it. He still gets a sparkly crapper.

Minimize cost while maximizing benefits. You are paid based on the value you bring to whoever it is that signs your paycheck. (This applies to you self employed people too, but I’m assuming you already know that.) Be a cog, be a wheel, be an axle; you’ll still be part of the machine. The parts that are hardest to replace are the most valuable.

14 thoughts on “Income Inequality is Not Evil”

  1. Basic Economics 101. But then again, if it was too much trouble to learn how to read, how can you understand such a complicated subject?

  2. ” It’s not enough to support his family.”

    This is a big one. In times past, before the Sexual revolution in the ’60s, and the hippies decried the reactionary “have a job, and security, and a reputation of honor and respect before looking for a spouse with prospects” and the rest of the enslaving propaganda of the military-industrial complex, one might have suggested that marrying a burger flipper, or someone not likely to advance past burger flipper, might be a jump in the wrong direction if you aspire to riches and a life of stature in your community. Not all folks do aspire to that. That is, take ownership of the choice you make, when you select a mate-prospect. Choose wisely (I think that comes from a movie, somewhere).

    If a burger flipper and a burger flipper’s mate make a family, that is good. Families are the atoms that make up communities, much more so that single people. But recognize that burger flippers can choose to be mayor or councilpeople, or managers and franchise owners, if they aspire to more. Senior burger flippers don’t make their employer any more money than a kid with a month’s experience.

    Experienced burger flippers don’t make their employer any more money directly, that is. Many workplaces benefit from the number of experienced people, people accustomed to the work culture, that know how to adapt to routine changes, are familiar with bringing new hires “up to speed”. Stability in the workplace, even among burger flippers, is something most employers value. But the values of experience, beyond the first couple of years, are mostly indirect, or no measurable in increased income or reduced expenses. Thus — if it doesn’t increase profit, it isn’t buying the employer all that much.

  3. Great article. But I must point out one criticism.

    “Some people deserve to make more money than other people. Some people deserve nicer houses and nicer cars. And this is the way it should be.” <– Poor choice of words.

    The reason the 'living wage' people think the way they do is because of the word 'deserve'. "I'm an American, so I DESERVE a better wage." "I was abused as a child, so I DESERVE to sit on my hiney and collect fat paychecks." "I was born in a different ethnic group, so I DESERVE reparations."

    Deserve has nothing to do with it. How about "Some people have the skills to make more money than other people. Some people have earned nicer houses and nicer cars. And this is the way it should be."

    1. “have”, I think, is an incomplete replacement for “deserve”.

      What we are talking about is getting more — whatever the mechanism, the intent is not what we have today, but what we will have, or what is (or should!) be available in the future. Often, we mean “very soon” in the future.

      In Dicken’s time, this was called “prospects”. Or, as one novel put it, Great Expectations.

      I have some other comments,

    2. I see your point, but I disagree. I know the entitlement class believes they ‘deserve’ things, but believing it does not make it true. I will not cater to their twisted definitions. You don’t DESERVE anything just by being. You deserve it because you’ve earned it in some way.

      de•serve (dɪˈzɜrv)

      v. -served, -serv•ing. v.t.
      1. to merit, qualify for, or have a claim to (reward, punishment, aid, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or circumstances: to deserve a pay raise; to deserve exile.
      2. to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward, punishment, etc.: an idea deserving of study.
      [1250–1300; Middle English < Old French deservir, Latin dēservīre to serve zealously] de•serv′er, n. Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

  4. I think we’re talking about the same thing, Brad, just wording it differently.

    Perhaps I chose poor wording as well. I meant that we should be careful about using the word ‘deserve’ in that it feeds an already entitled mindset. Whether or not more money is deserved is irrelevent, but the entitlement mindset doesn’t see it that way.

  5. It’s amazing how many of the programs and goals of liberals/progressives hurt the groups they claim to be helping. Examples:

    1. Affirmative Action which makes the achievements of all blacks suspect. I have encountered cases like this and was shocked at the soft bigotry that it supports.

    2. Gun Control which disproportionately impacts the poor and inner-city people who are at the greatest risk of being the victims of violence.

    3. Progressive Taxation/Welfare Redistribution which makes it much harder for producers to justify hiring additional unskilled workers or not out source jobs.

    4. Socialized Medicine (Obamacare) was supposedly to help the uninsured, but has made vast numbers uninsured.

    5. Green Policies that shred birds in windmills or roast via solar panels, cost the jobs of Americans, cause hardship (e.g. ethanol and food prices) and ultimately make us more dependent on foreign oil.

    6. Minimum Wage that was covered above, that reduces entry level jobs that are useful for basic skills, but are not meant to be the culmination of a career. Think of starting at McDonalds…then on to Best Buy…then a telecom technician…then a Business Unit Manager…then Regional President…and finally, CEO.

  6. Hello Mrs. Jennifer. I’m not sure if you remember me, but I went by the name of mikemanmickeymouse a few months ago when I posted a comment on your page. I’m actually a 21 year old college student from New Jersey; my name is Mike. I’ve read a few of your posts in the past…and they were so insightful! You said things that were spot on on so many things! You’re very wise! But I just wanted to tell you two things that were on my mind. One: good job on this latest post that you put up. I actually majored in Economics at school. Although I have adeep concern for the needy in society, I still think that certain economic inequalities within society are only natural and even fair. Trying to somehow punish hardworkers for their hard work, and rewarding lazy people – is just bizarre. Not to say that all impoverished people are lazy, though; because many do indeed work very hard and deserve to be paid more for their hard work. —-My second point I wanted to bring up is about the comment I posted on your blog a few months ago (July to be exact). Do you remember all the tense feelings and publicity drama that surrounded the Trayvon Martin controversy a few months ago? Do you remember the somewhat angry posts that I put on your page when I commented on how you felt about the whole situation? Well, for one, I shouldn’t have gotten so mad. That was stupid and you’re entitled to have your own opinion. But the main point I want to get at is…what do you think of Mr. Zimmerman now? In your blog posts, you made George Zimmerman seem like this poor helpless person who got attacked by this evil black thug. You made it as if Zimmerman was only trying to protect his community and didn’t mean any harm. Do you still think that way of him? Have you seen his recent run-ins with the law, in which he pointed machine guns at the women he’s been involved with and held them up at gunpoint? Did you see the picture of him visit that gun factory with that huge smile on his face (the same factory that produced the weapon that killed Trayvon Martin)? Did you see how he posted bullseye targets riddled with bullet holes all over his ex wife’s house? Did you see how he smashed that ipad so that the police wouldn’t be able to salvage any video evidence that would convict him of that domestic violence dispute? Do you see how he speeds all over the country with impunity? Did you here that recording of his phone call to the police where he told the dispatcher that it was his own girlfriend who locked herslef out of her own home, smashed her own table, and pointed the gun at herself? Did you see the arsenal of weapons the police confiscated from his home?—My question to you is…why aren’t you defending him anymore? Why the sudden change? I haven’t seen you post a single thing about his misbehavior since he began acting this way. But yet, only a few months ago, you were hellbent on making him look like this poor, innocent person. Would you like it if this man moved next door to you? Would you like this man to be around your son?…I think I’ve made my point. —Sorry for the digression of topics. I would have sent this to you in email form, but I didn’t see anywhere on your page where I can send it to you in email form. And one more thing: I’d really appreciate it if you responded to my comment instead of deleting it and pretending it never existed. By doing the latter, you would prove to both me and yourself that you were wrong to defend Z-man in the first place.

    1. Wow! There is so much hyperbole and misinformation here. Of course I’ll publish it just so everyone can see. If I get time later, I may give it its own post just so I can address each point. You’ll notice that the only charge that has actually stuck is the speeding ticket. Yawn. Machine gun? Um, no. That didn’t happen. The girlfriend claimed he pointed a gun at her and then retracted the statement. Then said the police confused her and misquoted her and wants to get back with Z-man. Yeah, I still believe he’s innocent. I think he’s an idiot, but that’s not a crime. I don’t LIKE the guy, personally, but that doesn’t make him a criminal. I haven’t mentioned him because I’m tired of hearing about him. The guy has been hounded and stalked by the press and had every single action plastered in the headlines. I’ve no desire to add to the noise.

  7. Well…thanks for responding. I hope I didn’t come off as a jerk. And don’t laugh at what I’m about to write…but I actually agree with you. I can’t stand hearing about him either. But just because I can’t stand hearing about him doesn’t automatically mean he’s guilty (even though I personally thing he is). Rest assured, there will be no more comments about z-man by me on your blog. I look forward to reading more of your exciting posts.

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