A meme quoting the comedian Joe Rogan’s insight on income inequality is going viral on social media. He was making the obvious point that while we never stop hearing about income inequality (from the Left), everyone seems to just take it for granted that the rich and poor got where they were by circumstance. (RELATED: Obama’s Hypocrisy On Income Inequality Revealed In This Photo).

The inequality debate is always phrased in terms of what percent of the income distribution “the rich” (usually meaning the top 1%) receives in a given year, compared to what percent everyone else earns. Even that phrasing is dishonest because income isn’t distributed, it’s earned. Nor is the percent of income or wealth earned by the “rich” or “the poor” owned the relevant way to measure inequality. Doing so mistakenly views income and wealth as a “fixed pie,” and that one cannot get richer at the expense of another.

In reality, mobility is readily available in America for anyone willing to try. In fact, by the time they die, 12% of all Americans will reach the top 1% (for at least one year). Four in ten people will have reached the top 5% for at least one year, and half will reach at the least the top 10%.

Three out of four Americans will earn income that places them in the top 20% of income earners. And the kicker? At least half of all Americans will have lived in poverty for at least a year too (and the overwhelming majority do not remain there permanently).

Income inequality isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and income equality isn’t necessarily a good thing either. As is evident in the chart below, despite the visible inequality between America’s top and bottom 10% of income earners, the poorest 10% of Americans are still better off socioeconomically than the top 10% of income earners in Italy, Israel, Russia, and others.

Joe Rogan income inequality

Furthermore, there are prosperous nations with high-income inequality (such as the United States) and those that can hardly be considered developed (such as Brazil or India). On the flipside, there are prosperous nations with low-income inequality (Denmark, Sweden, Norway), and hellholes with almost zero income inequality (Venezuela, North Korea).

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