Did you know that economic reality is hostile to there being restraints upon inequality? Nothing more and nothing less, just plain economic reality? This, at any rate, is the contention of Nick Schulz, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; it's the first of three inconvenient truths he sets out. These are aimed specifically at the Occupy Wall Street movement, but they plainly concern anyone who thinks that rampant inequality is not morally defensible. How Schulz reaches his conclusion is as follows.
Occupy supporters are right, he says, that American incomes have grown more unequal, and two forces have combined to produce that result - globalization and advanced technology. They have meant that 'rewards for those at the top of the Wall Street heap are much larger than they were a generation or two ago', as they are very large, too, for those putting out 'technology products such as software and computers, and entertainment goods such as music and movies'. The inconvenient truth here is, then, that redistributive taxation from the 'haves' who have benefited to the 'have nots' has an upper boundary. The long and the short of this, quoting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is:
[Y]ou are kidding yourself if you think you can be one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, have a reputation for being anti-business - and have a rosy economic future.
That is what Schulz means by 'the limits of economic reality'. One should note, however, that where the targeting of gross inequality is merely a political issue and the obstacle to doing something about inequality is economic reality, what economic reality turns out to amount to is that it's 'anti-business' for certain people not to be able to continue to enjoy the huge rewards that they do enjoy. Which, of course, so far from being written into the very fabric of the universe, just pits one set of human wills against another set: those who benefit from vast inequalities against those who don't.
The genuinely inconvenient truth here is not that exorbitant riches alongside unemployment, homelessness, poverty, is dictated by hard reality whereas challenging it is no more than a dream; but that challenging inequality can never be effective unless it is coordinated at the level of national politics (and, probably, beyond that level). This is the huge advantage enjoyed by those who defend capitalist inequality against all those who attempt to challenge it.