Pat Buchanan: Inequality — crisis or scam?
There seemed to be no private cars on Beijing's streets. In the stores, there was next to nothing on the shelves. The Chinese all seemed dressed in the same blue Mao jackets.
Hence, there is far greater inequality in China today than in 1972.
Lest we forget, it is freedom that produces inequality.
Even a partly free nation unleashes the natural and acquired abilities of peoples, and the more industrious and talented inevitably excel and rise and reap the greater rewards. "Inequality ... is rooted in the biological nature of man," said James Fenimore Cooper.
Though a family of four with $23,550 in cash income in 2013 qualified as living in poverty, this hardly tells the whole story.
Consider the leveling effect of the graduated income tax, about which Karl Marx wrote glowingly in his "Communist Manifesto."
Surely, trillions of dollars siphoned annually off the incomes of the most productive Americans — in federal, state and local income and payroll taxes — closes the gap somewhat.
The poor have their children educated free in public schools, from Head Start to K-12 and then on to college with Pell Grants. Their medical needs are taken care of through Medicaid. They receive food stamps to feed the family. The kids can get two or three free meals a day at school.
In the late 1940s, our family had no freezer, no dishwasher, no clothes washer or dryer, no microwave, no air conditioning. We watched the Notre Dame-Army game on a black-and-white 8-inch DuMont.
Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation added up the cost in 2012 of the means-tested federal and state programs for America's poor and low-income families. Price tag: $927 billion.
"If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than sufficient to bring the income of every lower-income American to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, roughly $44,000 per year for a family of four."
Where in history have the poor been treated better?
Certainly not in the USA in the 1950s or during the Depression. Why, then, all this sudden talk about reducing the gap between rich and poor?
At Howard University in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared, "We seek not just ... equality as a right ... but equality as a fact and equality as a result."
Alexis de Tocqueville saw it coming:
"The sole condition which is required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love equality or to get men to believe you love it. Thus, the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced ... to a single principle."
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"