Illustration for article titled Understanding the Difference Between Income Inequality and Income Insufficiency
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You know that the class war has reached a dire level when all the billionaires start weighing in with plans to help. The latest is billionaire financier and Trump whisperer Steve Schwarzman, who has coined a new term: “income insufficiency.” What does that mean, exactly?


We’re all familiar with income inequality, and, more usefully, wealth inequality—the four-decade, post-Reagan trend that is steadily undermining the social fabric of America and the world, which has led us to the absurd and immoral situation of a world in which a few dozen rich people have the same amount of wealth as several billion poor people. Even mega-billionaires have come to understand that the preservation of their own lifestyles means that it is necessary to somewhat mitigate this inequality before they end up in the guillotines. Schwarzman (net worth: $13.7 billion)—a man who threw himself a multimillion-dollar birthday party during the depths of the Great Recession and who once compared raising taxes on private equity firms to Hitler’s invasion of Poland—is now advocating a higher minimum wage, lower taxes on teachers, and other baby steps to, perhaps, address this problem we have. But he has a very particular name for that problem:

Income “insufficiency”, not inequality, is to blame for the widening gap between rich and poor, private equity titan Steve Schwarzman said on Thursday... “What we have is less an issue of income inequality than income insufficiency for the bottom 50% of the society,” he said on CNBC’s Squawk Box.


Why coin a brand new term for a problem that is already well studied and well understood? This guide will help you understand the subtle difference:

  • Income Inequality implies that billionaires such as Steve Schwarzman have too much money, while the vast majority of regular people do not have enough, which could lead the conclusion that billionaires should have less money.
  • Income Insufficiency implies that the people on the bottom simply have an insufficient supply of money, which should be rectified, perhaps by monetary policy, or tax credits. Billionaires have a sufficient supply of money, so we need not worry about them. Let’s focus only on where the insufficiency is. Deal?

I mean if a sick person had an insufficient supply of nutrients, you wouldn’t go and suck the nutrients out of someone else, would you? Gross!

Yes... insufficiency. This will do nicely.

Senior Writer.

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