Brendan Nyhan of the New York Times wrote a piece about how the GOP is only now interested in income inequality, an area he thinks is a traditional Democrat issue. Some of his reasons aren't all that surprising, like the fact that under Mr. Obama and Democrat "leadership" income inequality has become worse, but on the whole the article is simply pathetic. The implication of his article is that Democrats care more than the GOP, and it will be, therefore, a tough nut to crack for the GOP, even as a bipartisan look at income inequality might turn out to be a good exercise. He finishes by writing that the first step in dealing with a problem is in recognizing one exists. And among the various useless things Nyhan writes, this is by far the worst.
Income inequality, by itself, isn't a bad thing. If you work harder than me and so earn more than me, then the inequality which results is just the natural consequence of my economic motivations versus yours. If I want to earn less, then what is the problem? But when we have a government which makes income inequality worse, which exacerbates the issue, then we do, seriously, have a problem. And today we have a government which encourages by its policies a variety of natural consequences which do just that. Whether it is to provide a most modest level of income as a substitute for wages, or a hyper-regulatory administrative state which makes business harder here relative to other countries and also makes it harder for new market entrants to compete with the "big boys", our system today in America causes more income inequality. And Democrats have supported the policies which have made this outcome the only outcome possible. And supported them in spades.
The fact of the matter is that the GOP doesn't really care about natural income inequality of the kind I first referenced, but Democrats do. For Democrats it's more about equality of outcome. The GOP is more about equality of opportunity. A fascistic state thrives on the former, liberty on the latter. But it's even more stark. The GOP DOES care about artificial income inequality of the like being caused today by governmental policies which both make it happen where it wouldn't otherwise, and make it happen worse where it would. Democrats, on the other hand, DO NOT care about artificial income inequality. For them it's an article of faith that since they believe they care more than me, for instance, that their policies must be better than anything I would support. Even as facts continue to show, year after year, they are wrong.
The GOP should care about income inequality as an issue today only to the extent that liberal policies have made it, or made it worse. We should treat everyone as equal and root out any institutional obstacles to their drive to succeed, but we should not focus on the natural outcomes that exist just because people want, and so work for, different things. But that is a far cry from arguing we should have more government to deal with income inequality, as Mr. Nyhan seems to think is needed.
He just doesn't understand that what he has apparently favored all along--and still does today--is precisely why the problem he thinks exists, but for all the wrong reasons, does in fact now exist.
Why then does it matter to Democrats? Well, you can't have a large and growing government if fewer problems exist. So income inequality, or race relations, or education, and so on, are made worse by them (but for entirely good and compassionate reasons), and the solution isn't to withdraw the causes doing the damage, but is instead to make things even worse. Imagine an America where people were less envious, less corrupt, less self-segregated, less "victimized". Would that help, or harm, Democrats and their thirst for power over you?