You know that income inequality and social stratification are the great concern of the political season. The rich are getting very rich, the poor are staying poor and most of us in the middle are going nowhere, and this is a genuine concern. It is the great issue of the age, says President Obama and many others.
As usual, recognizing a problem doesn’t mean we can do much about it. The causes of inequality are subject to great debate, and the proposed remedies often devolve into convenient pretexts for purely political action. Raising the minimum wage, for instance, polls well. Our president and our governor and a wide swath of supporters say this is a tool to battle inequality, but for that it will do almost nothing. The poor mostly don’t have jobs and don’t earn wages, minimum or otherwise. The middle, where many minimum wage workers reside in two- or three-earner families, has far bigger problems. The rich won’t be bothered.