Poor Aren't Poor Because Rich Are Rich; Making The Rich Poorer Doesn't Make Everyone Else Rich
Judged only by economic inequality, the financial crisis is a godsend. It will probably narrow the gap — though still vast — between the rich and everybody else. But what good will that do? Economic inequality also declined in the Great Depression. The country wasn't better off.
By and large, the poor aren't poor because the rich are rich. They're usually poor for their own reasons: family breakdown, low skills, destructive personal habits and plain bad luck.
And making the rich poorer doesn't make everyone else richer. Scapegoating and punishing all of the rich won't do us any good if the resulting taxes dull investment and risk-taking, discouraging economic growth that benefits everyone.
HT: Greg Mankiw