Inequality in the State of the Union Address Since 1796

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from Bloomberg Businessweek,

Income inequality will figure prominently in President Obama’s Jan. 28 address before Congress. For perspective on the enduring problem, he can crib from the State of the Union scripts of presidents going back centuries.

from The Gray Area:

Click through 17 other President’s thoughts on income and opportunity beginning with George Washington in 1796.

The best quote appears from Teddy Roosevelt who said, “The old laws, and the old customs, which had almost the binding force of law, were once quite sufficient to regulate the accumulation and distribution of wealth. Since the industrial changes which have so enormously increased the productive power of mankind, they are no longer sufficient.

Teddy Roosevelt recognized that the innovation and technological changes at the turn of the 20th century was the source of rising inequality. If you look at the graph above, you see the same increase leading up to the turn of the 21st century driven by innovation and technological advances.

These trends lead to upper income growth due to the vision and investment of risk taking entrepreneurs. This happens faster than lower skilled earners who suffer from lost jobs as industries fade away or significantly change.

Inequality is not theft by the rich from the poor as President Obama and others on the left regularly preach. Paying attention to the actual source of the problem will lead to effective solutions for everyone.

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