Mark Packer, in a Feb. 7 column, asserts that we need, not redistribution of income, but more "knowledge-based jobs . . . to lift people out of poverty." There are two problems.
First, any increase in knowledge-based jobs requires more education funding. The top 1 pecent of U.S. families has about 45 percent of all the wealth, the bottom 80 percent has 7 percent. The top folks need to contribute more to support education.
Second, the implication in Mark's article is - a familiar argument - that a rising tide lifts all boats: if we increase the size of the pie, everyone, rich and poor, gets a bigger slice. But the economy is a subsystem of the biosphere. All of the economy's inputs come from the environment, and all of the wastes produced by the economy return to it. An expanding economy consumes more materials and energy, and emits more wastes. Since we live on a finite planet, this process can't go on forever.
Some inequality of income is good. In the military, civil service, and universities, top earners get 15-20 times what the average worker gets, which encourages industriousness. In the private sector, the top people get 250 times what the average worker gets. That doesn't, as Mark says, "create a sense of grievance," it is grievous. It is very harmful to the welfare of society, as the authors of "The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger" make clear.