Income Inequality Comes Roaring Back Into The News

With the demise of the Russian collusion hoax, you knew that something would have to emerge to fill the giant hole in the newspapers and the TV news shows. It looks like the old perennial of “income inequality,” after some time mostly off the front pages, is now the first mantra to be found rushing in to fill the vacuum.

So there we had Ray Dalio — serious mega-billionaire and Co-Chairman of the country’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates — showing up on CBS’s “60 Minutes” yesterday to proclaim that income inequality is a “national emergency”:

“If I was the president of the United States,” Dalio said, “what I would do is recognize that this is a national emergency. . . .” “The American dream is lost,” he said. “For the most part we don’t even talk about what is the American dream. And it’s very different from when I was growing up.”

Simultaneously, Mr. Progressive himself, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, turned up in Nevada (of all places) to promote his self-delusional presidential campaign, and chose income inequality as his theme. From today’s New York Post:

[T]here needs to be a “bigger discussion about income inequality and oppression of other groups including Latinos, Native Americans, Asian and women,” he said at the event organized by the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road.

And, somewhat to my surprise, the income inequality drum beaters seem to have enlisted Tucker Carlson of Fox News as one of their spokespeople. Carlson has made statements on this subject several times, but here is an example quoted by Forbes (last November):

The biggest problem this country faces is income inequality, and neither the liberals nor the conservatives see it.

Here’s the problem I have with this: The “income inequality” mantra in the United States is almost as big a hoax as the Trump/Russia collusion scam. . . .

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April Fools Day Hoax Roundup

Does it seem to you that there have been a lot of big-time hoaxes lately? In late February the most widely-publicized alleged “hate crime” in years — the Jussie Smollett caper — was revealed as a hoax; and then just a few weeks after that the Mueller Report was completed, and it turned out that the single most intensely covered news event of my entire lifetime — the “Trump/Russia collusion” story — was also a hoax.

These were not minor or insignificant hoaxes. Both were a huge focus of mainstream press and media coverage and commentary, in the first case for several weeks, and in the second for over two years. Both fed the dominant media narrative of opposition to President Trump and hatred of him and his supporters. Both hoaxes were accepted uncritically and without a hint of skepticism by essentially all of the progressive press and media, who repeated and amplified them at great extent right up until they suddenly unraveled.

But with the extreme focus on these two hoaxes, perhaps you are losing track of the fact that these are just two of some dozens of similar hoaxes perpetrated by the same press and media players in recent years. Today, in honor of April Fools Day, the Manhattan Contrarian performs the public service of reminding you of the extent to which you are subject to a constant barrage of hoaxes originating from the mainstream press, media (including social media), and often also the government; hoaxes that are then endlessly repeated and amplified, all in the service of increased political power for the left.

Hate Crime Hoaxes

If you search the recesses of your memory, you will likely be able to come up with at least a few prior hate crime hoaxes that got big media play before the truth came out. One of the biggest was the University of Virginia fraternity gang rape hoax of 2014, originally perpetrated upon the world by Rolling Stone magazine. Going back several more years, there was the Duke lacrosse team gang rape hoax of 2006. If you follow this issue, you may also remember some others, . . .

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Is New York's "Safety Net" A Success?

One of the many specialized publications here in New York is something called “Crain’s New York Business.” As its title suggests, Crain’s covers mostly the affairs of the business community, although from time to time it also dabbles in political and policy matters. Sometimes it even has some sensible things to say. And sometimes not.

This week’s issue of Crain’s is dominated by a cover story titled “The State of Inequality: A Program for Every Problem.” The article has the byline of Crain’s head editor Greg David (although I doubt he actually wrote it — it’s not his usual style at all). It purports to be a review of the state of the “safety net” and its many subsidiary programs here in New York, together with, to some degree, a comparison of same to similar programs in certain other states (Georgia, Texas, Washington).

This lengthy piece is a serious embarrassment to Crain’s. It could not be worse if they simply had published verbatim a pile of campaign propaganda fed to them by a Cuomo or a de Blasio — which may very well be what this actually is. I’ll first take you through what the article says, and then I’ll go over a few of the elephants standing around here that they have somehow missed.

The basic theme of the piece is that New York has the most extensive array of social safety net programs in the country, and THEY’RE WORKING !!!!!! And how do we know that THEY’RE WORKING !!!!! ? Because we have followed the basic journalistic technique of interviewing some of the beneficiaries of the programs, and some of the bureaucrats who run the programs. And, remarkably, those people are unanimous in declaring the great success of the programs that they benefit from and/or administer. QED! Now, has anyone thought to maybe go out and collect some data as to, for example, how New York compares to other jurisdictions in actually reducing poverty, or reducing income inequality, or (in the case of medical programs) extending life expectancy? Of course, you will not find any of that in this article. . . .

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This Time Socialism Will Work Because We Are Going To Do It Right

I know that this week everybody’s attention has been diverted to the Kavanaugh confirmation circus. Have we missed anything important? Before we all move on, I want to draw readers’ attention to one of the more preposterous items to appear in the New York Times this week (I know that’s a low bar). The article appeared on Monday (October 1) with the headline “Detailed New National Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life.” The sub-headline is “Some places lift children out of poverty. Others trap them there. Now cities are trying to do something about the difference.” The reporters are Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui.

What makes this article preposterous? It’s preposterous because it’s yet another exemplar from the genre of “this time we’re going to do socialism right and finally it’s going to work.” Of course, the word “socialism” itself is not used. But the subject of the article is publicly-subsidized housing for the poor — classic “to each according to his needs” redistributionism. We all know that this sure hasn’t worked so far.

Let’s start with some background so that you will understand where this article fits in. . . .

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Attention Yale Alumni

If you didn’t go to Yale, you probably don’t pay much attention to how insane that place has become in the past several years. I bring this up today because a guy named Jamie Kirchick is running an insurgent candidacy for Yale Trustee. He needs about 5000 signatures to get on the ballot, and apparently is a few hundred short. And today (at midnight) is the deadline for submitting signatures.

As to the insanity at Yale, here are some reminders if you need them: . . .

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Some Real Information On Poverty And Income Inequality

On numerous occasions on this blog, I have pointed out that the government's data on poverty and income inequality are systematically fraudulent.  For starters, they define "income," for purposes of determining both poverty and income inequality, in a way to arbitrarily exclude well over a trillion annual dollars of government transfers and benefits, leading to results that are entirely misleading.  And then those intentionally misleading results are used to advocate for yet more government programs and transfers, all of which will again be excluded when measuring poverty and inequality in the next round.  For a few examples of my previous posts on this subject, see here, here and here.  If you have time, I would recommend reading those for background.

What I have not previously done is attempt to go through all the uncounted government programs and quantify the effect that including them would have on the reported rates of poverty or income inequality.  One reason I have not done that is that it is a lot of work.  Another reason I haven't done it is that even correcting for all the omitted government programs would only be a start at the project of getting a handle on the real rate of poverty in the United States, that is, poverty in the sense of actual physical deprivation.  Even if all government benefits and transfers get included in the "income" of the recipients, and the statistics for poverty and income inequality get corrected accordingly, there would still be very large amounts of resources available to the "poor" that would remain uncounted.  The most obvious example would be the unreported illegal economy (estimated in this 2011 study at approximately $2 trillion annually, or about 12% of the economy, which is even more -- almost double -- the amount of uncounted government benefits).  And then there's the provision of resources by families and extended families.  Nevertheless, doing a study to figure out what the quantitative effect of including all these previously-excluded government benefits would be on the poverty and inequality statistics is certainly a worthwhile project.

And thus into my mailbox this week floated exactly such a study, by a guy named John Early at the Cato Institute.  The study is titled "Reassessing the Facts about Inequality, Poverty, and Redistribution."   Although I only got it this week (in the snail mail), it has a publication date of April 24.  Early is identified as a former assistant commissioner in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which probably is a good indication that he knows how these numbers are put together (although the income and poverty numbers come from the Commerce Department rather than BLS).

So first, John, could you give us a list of some of the government benefits and handouts that are excluded when the government measures "poverty" and "income inequality"?

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