The Corner

Income Inequality

Like a lot of conservatives, I’ve never really understood why it matters. But even assuming that it does, I don’t quite get why increasing inequality is supposed to matter, or how much of an increase constitutes a crisis. Here’s Steven Rattner in today’s Washington Post: “In 1971 the top 5 percent of Americans made about 6.3 times what the bottom 20 percent made. In 2001, after 30 years of relentless widening, that same group made 8.4 times what the bottom 20 percent did.” Granted, that’s a 33 percent increase once you do the math. But on its face, what’s so terrible about going from 6.3 to 8.4? I suppose I can see being concerned if we’d gone from 2.2 to 6.3, or from 4 to 12. But this change just doesn’t seem like that big a deal.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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