It’s a Myth that Conservatives Don’t Care About Inequality

We’ve noted for years that it’s a myth that conservatives accept runaway inequality.

Conservatives are very concerned about the stunning collapse of upward mobility.

A poll from Gallup shows that a majority of Republicans think we’ve got too much inequality:

Two out of three Americans are dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are currently distributed in the U.S. This includes three-fourths of Democrats and 54% of Republicans.

And the conservative website ran a story last month entitled, “Inequality is a Conservative Issue“.

In fact, there are at least 5 solid conservative reasons – based upon conservative values – for reducing runaway inequality:

(1) It has now finally become widely accepted by economists that inequality drags down the economy. Conservatives like economic growth;

(2) Inequality increases the nation’s debt.  Conservatives don’t like debt;

(3) Runaway inequality leads to social unrest and violence. Conservatives like stability and order;

(4) Much of the cause of our soaring inequality is bailouts for the big banks and socialism for the buddies of the high-and-mighty at the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and White House.   The government has consistently picked Wall Street over Main Street, and virtually all of the the big banks’ profits come from taxpayer bailouts. The Fed is still throwing many tens of billions a month at the big banks in “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time”, which sucks the wealth away from the rest of the economy.  Conservatives don’t like bailouts or socialism; and

(5) One of the biggest causes of runaway inequality is that the big banks are manipulating every market, and committing massive crimes.  These actions artificially redistribute wealth from honest, hard-working people to a handful of crooks.  Conservatives hate redistribution … as well as crooks.  In addition, religious leaders have slammed the criminality of the heads of the big banks; and the Bible teaches - and top economists agree – that their crimes must be punished, or else things will get worse. On the other hand, if the crimes of the bankers are punished, inequality will start to decline, because a more lawful, orderly and even playing field will be reestablished.

This is an area of agreement between people of good faith on the left and on the right. As Robert Shiller said in 2009:

And it’s not like we want to level income. I’m not saying spread the wealth around, which got Obama in trouble. But I think, I would hope that this would be a time for a national consideration about policies that would focus on restraining any possible further increases in inequality.

If we stop bailing out the fraudsters and financial gamblers, the big banks would focus more on traditional lending and less on speculative plays which only make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and which guarantee future economic crises (which hurt the poor more than the rich).

Indeed, if we break up the big banks, it will increase the ability of smaller banks to make loans to Main Street, which will level the playing field.

Moreover, both conservatives and liberals agree that we need to prosecute financial fraud. As I’ve previously noted, fraud disproportionally benefits the big players, makes boom-bust cycles more severe, and otherwise harms the economy – all of which increase inequality and warp the market.

And prosecutors could claw back ill-gotten gains from the criminals and use that money to help the economy:

The government could use existing laws to force ill-gotten gains to be disgorged (see this and this) [and] fraudulent transfers to be voided …

Postscript: If you want to know the stunning truth of how bad inequality has gotten, read this.

If you want to hear what top economists say inequality does to our economy, click here.

And if you want to find out whether government policy is making things better or worse, here’s your answer.

Category: Philosophy, Politics, Wages & Income

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

6 Responses to “54% of Republicans Say We’ve Got Too Much Inequality”

  1. 873450 says:

    “If we stop bailing out the fraudsters and financial gamblers, the big banks would focus more on traditional lending and less on speculative plays which only make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and which guarantee future economic crises (which hurt the poor more than the rich).”

    Reinstate original proposed 3.5 page Volker Rule as stand-alone legislation, enact it and enforce it.

  2. Concerned Neighbour says:

    I agree, combating corporate socialism and cronyism should be an area where the left, centre, and right can come together and support. What I, as a self-considered centrist, do not understand is how many on the right feel the key to lessening social inequality is to do away with environmental and labour protections (e.g. minimum wage) and scale back and/or eliminate social programs (e.g. privatize social security, no universal health care, no food stamps, etc.).

    I would argue one of the great moral crimes of our day is how certain media/political interests spend huge resources on misinforming the public for their own personal gain at society’s expense.

  3. wally says:

    The only way to deal with inequality is to get things more equal. You can look at it from either side, but the wealthy must be made poorer relative to the less wealthy. That’s not something the Republicans, as that party is presently constituted, will be willing to do.

  4. Molesworth says:

    The Republican solution will be to cut spending and cut taxes.

  5. ngoyne01 says:

    Well, quit voting for the people who still believe in “trickle down economics”. It will not work now nor has it ever worked.

  6. Anonne says:

    I dislike the term “inequality” because it smacks of socialism – and true equality is not attainable.

    We should use “wealth concentration” instead.

    That said, I think that the counterpoint to the argument against redistribution is that it is not redistribution when the gain is based on the theft of labor.