How Do We Fix Income Inequality?

Last month, GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum told the Detroit Economic Club, in so many words, that he hopes there will always be income inequality in America. During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama labeled the challenge of leveling the economic playing field as the “defining issue of our time.” Earlier this year, GOP contender Mitt Romney said income inequality is about “envy” and “class warfare” on the Today Show.
 
Income inequality, commercialized by Occupy Wall Street, is a hot topic this election cycle. But according to Schwartz Fellow Charles Kenny, politicians – and policymakers – may be thinking about the inequality issue in the wrong way. We should stop fixating over how to slash the incomes of the one percent, and instead emphasize policy proposals to boost the fortunes of the most impoverished citizens, he argues in Bloomberg News today. Kenny says that the developed world should study the growth of poorer countries like China, South Korea and Thailand “to see how expanding opportunities for the underclass can promote broad economic growth. “
 
Kenny points to several initiatives and programs that arguably spurred economic growth in developing nations, but honed in on education as playing a “huge role” in leveling the economic playing field.  “The answer is not necessarily “more money for education” -- after all, the U.S. is already a big spender on schools, and there’s little desire in Washington to spend more,” Kenny says. “But ensuring that more young children have access to environments that stimulate learning could yield outsize returns.”

Read the full article here.

Photo credit: Occupy Wall Street image via Shutterstock.