John, as you say, “The rich have certainly been getting richer in the last thirty years. In 1982 it took a measly $80 million or so to make it onto the Forbes 400 List. Today it takes over a billion. But this is an artifact not of crime but of the technological revolution the world is undergoing, thanks to the microprocessor. Every major technological development has produced an inflorescence of fortune making.”
But let’s not forget inflation, which compounded since 1982 amounts to 95 percent, and whittles down that Saganesque Billion to barely above $500 million. So the pockets of the rich have not grown quite as heavy as might appear at first blush. But that is beside the point.
For even if income inequality in America could be traced back to winner-take-all circumstances, which it can’t, I find it hard to believe that Democrats would shun zero-sum games on principle: all the entitlement programs of which they are so fond constitute zero-sum transactions — games I cannot call them, because a game opens to an uncertain outcome in a world where, in fact, everything is so, except, to quote Ben Franklin, “death and taxes.” But the principle remains predatory: take from some to give others, redistribute existing wealth without creating any new value.
President Obama and the other bleeding-heart egalitarians in Congress can’t even claim to be doing all this vigorous reshuffling for the poor little guy’s sake alone. Not after they authorized the bailout of imprudent banks and automobile giants — “big baaad businesses” par excellence. Not after they taxed indiscriminately, including among lower-income brackets, to subsidize the purchase of such expensive, ultra-fuel-efficient cars that, even after the “cash-for-clunkers” rebate, only the relatively rich could afford. Not after they handed out generous rebates to those wealthy enough to afford purchasing a home in this miserable economy.
No, if the party in power had any qualms about zero-sum games, it would blush at its own record. In mentioning income inequality as a rationale for nationalizing health care, Senator Max Baucus was probably just throwing some red meat to his leftist constituency, to whom everything looks more virtuous and worthwhile when seen under the prism of wealth redistribution.