John Stossel addresses Inequality


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  — “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, M. L. King, Jr. Cited by Rev. Dr. Vincent Howell speaking at the NAACP MLK breakfast in Corning today.

In an article in today’s Elmira Star-Gazette, columnist John Stossel addresses inequality in America.  President Obama and Pope Francis are wrong Stossel claims; inequality — a few having more than they need while many don’t have enough — is no problem — it is the price of freedom and opportunity.

Stossel prefers to discuss inequality, but if we recognize inequality as reflecting injustice we may gain a better understanding.  In any case, Stossel’s arguments are astonishing.

  • The economic market, in which all must participate, is not a “zero sum game,” Stossel explains  — the rich growing richer doesn’t make the poor poorer.
    • To the extent that this is true it is not relevant.  The poor are growing steadily poorer due to a lack of jobs with adequate pay and benefits.  This trend must be reversed if we are to have a just society.
    • In at least some cases, the economy is zero-sum. For example, taxes avoided by the rich must be made up by the rest.
    • Interestingly Rep. Reed does imply that the economy is “zero-sum” when he claims that each “government job” costs a job in the private sector, or when he insists that additional benefits must be paid for by cuts elsewhere.
  • “Some cite government data showing middle class incomes remaining relatively stagnant. But this data is misleading too. It leaves out all government handouts like rent subsidies and food stamps,” Stossel says. That’s astonishing — people who consider themselves middle class should count rent subsidies, food stamps, employer-paid pensions, which are rapidly disappearing for most workers anyway, as offsetting inadequate pay!
  • Then the poor aren’t really poor, Stossel argues.  Poor people have cars, cell phones, entertainment, and technology that only the rich could afford in decades past.  Perhaps, but none of those things make up for lack of jobs, food, shelter, and education even for those in need who somehow manage to get by.
  • We have social mobility, Stossel writes: “People born poor don’t necessarily stay poor.” Stossel cites data showing that between generations some get richer, some poorer.  No argument there, but it is irrelevant — it hardly matters that children of poor families, Tom Reed for example, may do better than their parents — the fact remains that widespread poverty persists.
  • “Inequality may seem unfair, but the alternative — government forced equality — is worse.”  This is a false dichotomy — the alternative to injustice isn’t “government forced equality” it is justice.

Stossel’s arguments, false as they are, miss the point.  The problem is not that a few are very rich but rather our laws and customs which allow some to accumulate extreme wealth also doom many to a lifelong struggle with poverty. Life isn’t fair Stossel claims. What’s fair, he wonders?  What’s fair is that no one be satisfied while injustice persists, while too many Americans can’t afford the necessities of life.

© William Hungerford – January 2014

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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14 Responses to John Stossel addresses Inequality

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    Arghh. The only phrase Stossel left out of his repertoire of shortsighted, out of touch, monologue is ” Greed is Good!”.


  2. whungerford says:

    It was likely an oversight, Deb. These pundits all sing the same song: there will be pie in the sky when we die. In the meantime, don’t rock the boat.


  3. How much freedom is there for you if you have to struggle so hard to tread water. Just because we have TV’s and refrigerators, and our founding fathers didn’t, doesn’t mean people are not poor. They didn’t have private jets either, and yet the elite can’t seem to do without them. He is an idiot,


  4. BOB McGILL says:

    you don’t even know what “POOR” is !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. That factor of 32 has big consequences.

    Consider the fact that the population of the developing world is increasing rapidly, how poor can poor really be ? When was the last time you ever heard of someone starving to death in the U.S. ? All your concern for the “have nots” at a time when OBESITY IS THE NATION’S NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM !!!!!!!! ENTITLEMENTS ARE THE NUMBER ONE DRAIN ON THE ECONOMY !!!!!!!!!!

    The working class is nothing more than a bunch of SLAVES caught between the rich and the poor. You won’t be happy until every one has an equal amount of “NOTHING”.


  5. whungerford says:

    The national income of 15 trillion divided among 350 million people is more than 40,000 each, $160,000 for an average family of four — that ain’t nothing.


  6. Gary Perry says:

    Wealthy individuals do not reduce my income or reduce my spending power.
    Local, state and federal taxes are nothing more than theft and redistribution of wealth.
    Federal and state fiscal spending policies and “giving” money away to citizens, non-citizens, companies and corporations causes inflation latiron.
    Rarely do wages keep up with inflation and the whole mess just becomes a never ending cycle.

    Income from investments and company profits should be competitively taxed.
    Wages earned from labor should not be taxed.

    State and federal employee numbers continue to increase.
    All of these state and federal wages, benefits and pensions are paid for by the private sector.

    Imagine the amount of investment capital that would be available in the form of stocks, bonds, IRA’s and plain old savings accounts if the governments did not steal wages from employees in the private sector and government employees.

    Somewhere around former President Obama’s 2nd year the federal government began taking in record amounts of revenue on an almost monthly basis.
    These record months of revenue continue up until the Covid virus was thrust upon the country.

    We have just recently again began taking in record amounts of revenue at the federal level and some states.
    The federal government and many of the states do not have a tax revenue problem.
    They have a spending problem.

    There has not been any real efforts by Congress in either major party to want to address any of the excess spending on illegal immigration, real tax streamlining and reform, corporate tax carve-outs and government give aways and excessive military spending and run away military industrial complex spending.

    Not too mention the money that has been spent and co tinues to be spent building an overreaching data collection system of American citizens.

    Ther are currently more employees in the Dept. Of Homeland Security than there were in the entire federal government when President Johnson left office in 1969.
    Dr. Anthony Fauci is nothing more than an over paid and over compensated government bureaucrat.

    What has this media whore done other than try to hide and manipulate statistics, data and the truth regarding the American taxpayer funded virus manipulation in a lab in Wuhan, China.

    Local, state and federal governments are the biggest creators of poverty on one end of the spectrum and wealth on the other end of the spectrum.

    The working class and middle class are forced into funding the whole unsustainable mess.


  7. whungerford says:

    Thanks for your comment, Gary. Do you like any of the candidates running for office this fall? Do you plan to run yourself?


  8. Anonymous says:

    For Co gressional office I have personally known Joe Semp for over 10 years.
    Do not know the others but I will be supporting Joe.
    Can’t think of any Democrat state legislators candidates I would support or one for.
    There are a few Republican legislators I would like to replace with more principled conservatives.

    The NY State legislature has been controlled by Democrats for far too long (especially the Assembly) and the Democrats have had control of the governor’s office since Pataki.

    Corrupt Sheldon Silver was the most powerful man in NY State for far too long.
    I lay the blame on NY State’s dismal economy and overtaxed citizens at the feet of big government and corrupt Democrat State Legislators and a few corrupt and nonprincipled Republicans.

    NY State will get worse for it’s citizens before it gets better.
    We are being bled thru taxes into poverty.

    Big government growth and big government spending have plagued the state for far too long.
    NY used to have the highest budget of al the states and I believe that it now has the highest paid legislators in what is a part-time position.

    My advise for fiscal Democrats and conservatives is to move to a Red State !


  9. whungerford says:

    Gary, do you know Joe says he will drop out in favor of Claudia Tenney?


  10. Gary Perry says:

    Unless, unknownly to me, Congressional Districts have changed for the upcoming election, Joe Semp. And Claudia Tenney are not in the same Congressional district.


  11. whungerford says:

    Yes, the districts have changed. NY-22 is more Democratic, NY-23 more Republican. Tenney likes her chances better in NY-23 than in NY-22.


  12. Gary says:

    I know the state legislature passed this Bill but I was not aware that Governor Hochal had yet signed the Bill into law.

    I also know there is at least one law suit to contest it.
    This will have to be resolved quickly as petitioning begins soon.

    Gerrymandering of upstate Congressional and state legislature has been and continues to be a joke


  13. Anonymous says:

    There is a gentleman from wester NY , Mark Szuszkiciwicz ? Who has expressed an interest in running for the Congressional Seat that Tom Reed currently holds.


  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry.
    I misspoke.
    Mr. Szuszkiciwicz is interested in running for US Senate.
    A Mr. George Burns from Fredonia is interested in running for the Congressional seat that Congressman Reed holds.


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