February 05, 2014
Inequality = Opportunity

Did you happen to notice that Democrats, except for Senator Elizabeth Warren at least, have stopped talking about “income inequality” and starting talking about “the opportunity gap”? It seems the party’s donors get worried that people talking about income inequality might get the idea that you should — horror of horrors! — redistribute some income from them to the people who need it. If we talk about an opportunity gap, we simply plan on providing some additional pseudo-opportunities to the less fortunate but they will have to man up and accept responsibility for their own economic fate.

No less a conservative icon than David Brooks wrote a column on the opportunity gap where he talked about the uncomfortable decisions that “liberals” would need to take to address it. According to Brooks, to address an opportunity gap you must champion traditional marriage and stop trying to exploit class divisions.

If you have trouble making that connection, it seems that single parents or gay parents are unlikely to spend enough time reading Goodnight Moon to their kids, and pointing out the incessant class warfare against working people is just going to get them all upset and they’ll start demanding things instead of taking advantage of whatever opportunities their betters choose to hand them.

Of course, Democrats aren’t really going to be that successful in creating new “opportunities”, but they might sneak a couple of them through the Neanderthals in the House in an election year. My senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, is on a PR tour for her “American Opportunity Agenda” which represents the Democrat’s best hope for addressing “income inequality,” er, the opportunity gap.

Here are her proposals:


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1. Set up a dedicated Paid Family and Medical Leave trust fund within the Social Security Administration supported by a .2% increase in the employee and employer SS payroll tax. So we are taxing working people to pay for this and creating another bureaucracy to determine who is eligible and not eligible and how much they can get, and of course, no one is saying whether their job will exist when they return from taking advantage of this opportunity.

2. Increase the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next 3 years (by which time that will be an even more inadequate wage) and index future increases to inflation (Obviously this will be sacrificed to get the horrid Republicans to agree).

3. Expand the Dependent and Child Care Tax Credits and make them refundable — not a bad idea, just an inadequate one. Also she wants to create some kind of incentive for college students to work in child care through loan payoffs or tax credits — something other than making the work pay enough to be attractive to college grads.

4. Create a federal-state partnership to increase the availability of Pre-K programs — which might work in New York but don’t bother dressing little Johnny in the morning if you live in Mississippi or Texas.

5. Pass a Paycheck Fairness Act to require employers to demonstrate a business justification for wage gaps between men and women doing the same work. She’s obviously pandering with this one since even those who support the concept would realize that this would be difficult and expensive to enforce so will be opposed by the donor class with a vengeance.

This is what we have come to expect from our “liberal” party: half-baked halfway measures that don’t even pretend to address the underlying systemic problem and have little chance of being enacted into law. Even if some parts manage to get through Congress, you can be sure they will be distorted into a kind of Obamacare of opportunity. When you’re a Democrat, even when you win — you lose.

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Posted by Charles Dunaway at February 05, 2014 02:10 PM
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We've come a long way since the robber baron Jay Gould described the class wars accurately by saying "I can always hire half of the working class to shoot the other half." Now the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch just zombify our minds.

Posted by: Nugatory on February 6, 2014 12:26 PM

I've got another way to create "opportunity." Hold one of the Koch brothers upside down by his ankles and shake until ten billion or so bucks fall out of his pockets. Take the money and put it into things the nation needs more than an impossibly rich billionaire, such as early childhood education, college tuition reduction, even infrastructure.

Next pick up the other Koch brother by his ankles. Rinse and repeat. Third, pick up...well, you get the idea.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on February 6, 2014 2:50 PM

And when you're a Tea Partier even when you win you lose, too. Look at the govt shutdown, etc. etc. It's a funny old world, ain't it?

Posted by: John Boy on February 6, 2014 3:56 PM
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