Liberal Myths About the Middle Class and the Wealthy

In this morning’s New York Times, Bill Keller, the former managing editor, has a column on an Indian reformer who has been on a hunger strike against government corruption, a huge problem on the subcontinent. He writes:

Like Occupy Wall Street, Hazare embodies a national frustration with broken democratic institutions. Indeed, India’s government makes our paralyzed Congress look nimble. Like Occupy, Hazare’s grand grievance is the wholesale diversion of wealth from the middle class and poor to the unworthy few — in India’s case through payoffs, patronage and thievery, in America’s through tax and regulatory policies that have expanded the gap between the richest few and everyone else.

I’ll leave India to the Indians, but Keller’s idea that wealth has been diverted from the American middle class to the mega-rich few via tax and regulatory policies is somewhere beyond ludicrous. The gap between the richest few and the rest of us has indeed increased in recent decades, but that is not because the rest of us have gotten poorer. It’s because the richest few have gotten enormously richer. In 1982 it took $82 million to get a slot on the Forbes 400 list. Today, just 29 years later, it takes a billion, more than ten times as much even allowing for inflation.

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Liberal Myths About the Middle Class and the Wealthy

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