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"The Magic Bullet"

John Steele Gordon, 12/12, has a good question for Progressives:

I carry no brief for “the rich,” although I’d be happy to be counted among them. But this all reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a close friend, now gone, on this subject. She was very liberal. (How liberal? In 1948, she not only voted for Henry Wallace; she went to the convention and worked in his campaign. That’s liberal.) I proposed a thought experiment. “Suppose,” I said, “there were an economic magic bullet — that if Congress would pass the necessary legislation and the president were to sign it, the effect would be to double everyone’s real take-home income. If you were living on $50,000 this year, you’d have $100,000 to spend next year.”

. . . .

“But there’s a catch,” I answered. “The effect of the magic bullet would not double the take-home income of those earning over $1 million — it would quintuple it. In other words, the rich would make out far, far better than the average Joe. But there’s no way out, it’s all or nothing. Would you vote for the magic bullet if you were a member of Congress?”

Link courtesy of Michael Greenspan.

See also Caroline Baum, making (independently?) the same point:

Amanpour didn’t ask Axelrod what he would say if the pie doubled but the share of income that goes to the rich, poor and middle class stayed the same.

I’m not sure what he’d say on TV, but I bet I know what he thinks: not fair. Redistributing income -- reapportioning the pie slices so the thin slivers are thicker -- is the real goal.

And see also William McGurn, "'Billionaires On the Warpath'?"