Today, 9/16/2014, The Des Moines Register once again reinforced the idea that there is something inherently wrong with increasing income inequality. (See “Ag economy cited in study showing growth in rich-poor gap” – link below.) In a free market, where government does not interfere except to stop fraud and force, people only become wealthy by producing things that others value and purchase voluntarily. Under free market capitalism, voluntary trade only makes every participant richer.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a free market in much of our agricultural sector. So, an important question is how did the wealthy gain their wealth. If they gained their wealth by receiving subsidies from our government, then they gained their wealth by making others poorer. Today, farmers receive various kinds of government subsidies, both directly and indirectly. For example, crop insurance premiums are subsidized 60% by taxpayers, regardless of the income or wealth of the farmer. And, crop insurance not only covers losses from natural disasters, it also covers loss of profits due to lower crop prices. There should be no subsidy at all for crop insurance, but it is particularly distasteful when the subsidy goes to the rich. So, we must blame our own government’s policies for at least some of the unjust and immoral aspects of income and wealth inequality.