WASHINGTON – Despite all, it would appear that most American still have common sense. This is what I get by reading an interesting WSJ piece by William Galston (America’s Challenge: Growth That Works for All, September 10, 2014).
We want growth
According to recent studies and polls quoted by Galston, it would appear that a sizable majority of Americans (59%) would prefer a candidate who stresses economic growth, as opposed to another who focuses on fairness issues. Even more interesting, a huge majority (80%) would vote for candidate who would push economic growth instead of emphasizing income inequality.
Now, this is interesting, because these findings, (assuming that they do reflect a national mood), are completely counterintuitive.
Indeed, we know (and we are constantly reminded by the liberal media) about the growing income inequality in America. Yes, it is true that very few people already at the very top are getting most of the additional wealth produced. The rest are lucky if their income stagnates. Millions have been pushed down.
Hence the prevailing political rhetoric that focuses on this “income inequality” crisis. Many suggest that the only remedy for this “injustice” is to redistribute income via taxation, while adding more funds to welfare programs supporting the poor.
Well, despite all this, it would appear that most Americans, deep down, do not buy “income redistribution” as the magic solution for their problems.
It would appear that most Americans believe that we need policies that will foster more growth.
All in all, it is certainly true that growth without fairness creates problems. But it is also true that insisting on fairness without making sure that we have growth is even worse.
It seems that most Americans get this. Receiving a larger slice of a shrinking pie is not such a good deal.
But we also need fairness
That said, as Galston points out at the end of his WSJ piece: “Economic growth that benefits everyone is the most important challenge we face, and the American people know it. Will our leaders respond?”
Yes, the perfect mix is to have new leaders who understand that growth is the basic precondition; but who also strongly believe in fairness.
If too many people perceive that some already at the top get “too much” because the system is rigged, they will lose confidence in the basic assumption that the American economy rewards all people who work hard, and they will stop being enthusiastic players. If this happens, we all lose.