Answering Paul Krugman's Challenge on Inequality
By David Henderson
And challenging Paul to step up.
Paul Krugman writes:
So, can anyone show me an example of a prominent Republican politician proposing anything that would reduce after-tax-and-transfer inequality? Bank shots don’t count — saying that slashing food stamps will help the poor by making them less dependent, or that cutting capital gains taxes will bring the confidence fairy to everyone’s door, don’t qualify. On the other hand, I’m not demanding that every part of a politician’s program reduce the Gini coefficient, or even that the overall program have that effect. I just want to see one significant piece that goes in that direction.
Maybe there’s something out there, but if so, I haven’t heard about it.
I can show Paul an example. And, actually, so can Paul Krugman. He has heard about it.
That prominent Republican is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Rand Paul, and I’m sure Paul Krugman knows this, is a prominent opponent of the drug war. The drug war exacerbates income inequality by taking people whose income is typically already low–and making it lower. Eighteen to 72 cents an hour in prison doesn’t give you much income. I’ve written about that here.
Rand Paul has also been an outspoken critic of civil asset forfeiture. Admittedly, I cannot show that civil asset forfeiture increases inequality. My guess is that it does because the people to whom it’s done tend to be the most vulnerable who happen to have assets. If so, then reforming civil asset forfeiture is likely to reduce income inequality.
Here’s a question for Paul Krugman: Since you care so much about income inequality, why aren’t you speaking out against the drug war?