Just as it refuses to accept global warming or evolution, much of the right is busy trying to deny the evidence on income inequality. As Thomas Edsall notes in his column today, they don't have much of a case.
The big point that they are hitting on these days is that most middle income and poor people get health insurance, either from their employer or the government, which costs lots of money. If we add in this expense to their cash income, then the rise in inequality does not seem as large.
There are two important points to consider on this issue. The cost of health insurance is money being paid to highly paid medical specialists, insurers, and drug companies. It seems a bit perverse to argue that the poor are actually doing better than we thought because we are paying lots of money to cardiologists.
The other point is to keep in mind is that if we look at health outcomes like life expectancy, then it adds to the view that inequality is increasing. While all income groups shared more or less equally in the gains in life expectancy in the three decades immediately following World War II, a hugely disproportionate share of the gains have gone to the top in last three decades.
This suggests that if we measure what low and middle income people get by way of health care, instead of what the government and employers pay, the growth of inequality might be even worse than the commonly used data indicate.
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