The country’s preoccupation with income inequality has become the fount of many bad ideas. Among the very worst comes from Stanford University professor of economics Ronald McKinnon. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he proposes the most radical of reforms under the most soothing of titles: The Conservative Case for a Wealth Tax.
His argument falters at every level. To be sure, McKinnon starts out with the unexceptionable observation that inequality and unemployment remain two hot issues in the upcoming election. But he advances the ball on neither front by his respectful bow to Occupy Wall Street. Far from proposing a solution, McKinnon has become part of the problem.
Attacks on the inequality of wealth always miscarry when they fail to show that the wealth in question has been acquired by tainted means. Otherwise, the hard work that improves the lot of one person, without reducing the wealth of anyone else, should count as a social improvement.