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Obama Has Misdiagnosed America’s Income Inequality Problem: An Op-Ed for U.S. News

by David Winston

The answer isn’t more government, but restoration of a free market

In his acclaimed recent speech in Osawatomie, Kan., President Barack Obama articulated what has become the dominant liberal explanation of the issues America faces. “Inequality gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder,” he said.

The president correctly identifies the injustice inherent in rewarding the rich with undue political influence. Unfortunately, he misdiagnoses the source of the problem.

Obama’s mistake is a common one. He sees inequality as the root cause of our present evils, giving those “at the top” an unfair advantage when it comes to advocating for policies that benefit them. They alone have the resources to buy access and sway, thereby ensuring the “rules of the game” will always be rigged in their favor. This story makes intuitive sense, but it suffers from an obvious flaw: The real problem is not that certain individuals have the ability to “game” the system while others do not. The problem is that we’ve come to accept a system that invites itself to so easily be gamed.

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