A handful of millionaires against billionaires gathered yesterday to discuss the scourge of income inequality.
Live from Washington D.C., Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore and economist Darrick Hamilton hosted the townhall-style event. The four own at least 14 houses between them (Moore owns 9, Sanders 3, Warren 1, and Hamilton unknown).
Moore boasts a net worth of $50 million, Warren a net worth between $3.7-$10 million, and Sanders around $800,000 (which is actually quite reasonable, given his age).
Being wealthy themselves doesn’t disqualify the bunch from speaking on income inequality, but it is amusing the lengths they’ll go to hide their wealth. One particular moment comes to mind that occurred during the early days of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in which Moore appeared on CNN to rail against the 1%. The host at the time, Piers Morgan, couldn’t help but ask the obvious question of whether or not Moore is part of the top 1%. Moore tried to downplay his wealth on the basis that he “doesn’t own a single stock or bond” – as if that negates his $50 million in other assets.
According to the Daily Wire:
All in all, 1.7 million people engaged with the live townhall, at which the participants whined about the terrible fate of people living in the freest, most prosperous country in world history.
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The theme of “income inequality” was the foundation for a whole host of liberal policies that the hosts proposed as a solution.
Elizabeth Warren touted unions: “Unions built America’s middle class. It’ll take unions to rebuild America’s middle class.” This isn’t even close to true, but it makes for a good campaign talking point for her 2020 run (in point of fact, America’s middle class was burgeoning long before the advent of the union movement, and in the aftermath of the downfall of private unions, Americans have been moving into the upper middle class at a rapid rate).
Moore, meanwhile, directed his fire at the Democrats: “It’s so important that we hold the people who say they’re for the people – hold their feet to the fire! And if they’re not going to do the job they say they’re going to do, let’s get somebody else.” Never mind that Moore backed Hillary Clinton, the essence of the establishment, in the last presidential cycle.
And, of course, there was Sanders’ usual economic illiteracy: “In recent years, we have seen incredible growth in the number of billionaires, while 40 million Americans continue to live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth.”
The statistic that Sanders cited was the most misleading of the bunch. The child poverty statistic he’s citing is from an Oxfam report that defines a child in poverty as a child who lives in a household with income 1/2 that of a nation’s median income.
In other words, suppose the median household in America earns $50,000. A child who lives in a household earning $24,900 is classified as “poor.”
Meanwhile, in a country where median household income is $30,000, a child in a household earning $16,000 would be classified as above the poverty line.
How is it that a child in a household earning $24,900 can be classified as “poor,” while a child in a household earning $16,000 can be classified as above the poverty line? Because the Oxfam study’s methodology is rigged to make nations with more income inequality appear to have more child poverty. The study doesn’t measure absolute poverty, it measures relative poverty.
While I can’t say I agree with their politics, if they’d really like to help fix income inequality, my wallet remains open.
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