Saturday, October 17, 2015

George Will Tells Us That We Don't Need Less Inequality

George Will is one of the Washington Post's most widely circulated opinion writers.  His op-eds are syndicated to a large number of smaller town newspapers in the US; he is also one of the most frequently featured conservatives on television news shows.  In this op-ed he hauls out many of the most common used conservative platitudes that are used to justify income inequality.  

Bernie Sanders has been focused his campaign on policies that government can employ to reduce inequality.  Will accuses Sanders of being poorly motivated.  Will tells us the he is motivated by envy which is one of the seven deadly sins.  Certainly, we should not pay any attention to politicians motivated by envy.  Furthermore inequality is a good thing because it is a product of freedom.  Everyone is free to pursue whatever career they choose.  Some careers pay a lot of money and others pay less.  Attempts to limit inequality are bad because they limit freedom of choice.  This assumes that we have equal opportunity to pursue whatever career we choose.  It is well understood that children from high income families have more freedom of opportunity than children from poor families.  Will deftly shifts attention away from the relationship between opportunity and family income.  He puts the blame on families which have bad cultures.

Will's op-ed includes a number of other common platitudes such as the role of heredity.  Nature causes a lot of inequality.  That is certainly true.  Some occupations require more intelligence or other factors that determine performance and compensation.  If we assume that there is a normal distribution of intelligence, for example, we would not expect that occupations requiring above average intelligence would have a disproportional number of minorities in those occupations.  It is fairly clear that other factors limit the opportunities of minority groups.  We waste a lot of human intelligence by failing to develop the innate intelligence in minority groups.

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