Regarding Matthew Schoenfeld's "Air Jordan and the 1%" (op-ed, July 11): Since when is it a good idea to argue in favor of income inequality? There is a difference between cause and effect, and no analyst who understands this would suggest that income inequality causes generational increases in prosperity. Therefore, while there is considerable debate on whether income inequality is a problem or not, the range of opinion among the informed typically falls somewhere between it being a major problem to it being neutral at best. No one short of the obtuse would suggest that income inequality is good, as Mr. Schoenfeld does.
What the author fails to recognize is that in comparing Michael Jordan's salary to the Chicago Bulls' benchwarmers of that era, we are talking about the difference between the astronomically well-paid and the extremely well-paid. The fact is that all of the Bulls fit snugly into the top 1% of the income earners in the nation at that time.
Furthermore, having more appliances now—not the best way to describe the standard of living, in my opinion—relative to some arbitrary point in the past is a red herring, and not consistent at all with human nature. All of us want to participate in the growth of the economy and the increased opportunities that come with it. Contrary to what Mr. Schoenfeld offers, the reference point is: "How are we doing now relative to how the people we observe and compare ourselves to are doing?" No one cares about how many toasters or other conveniences they have now relative to our distant ancestors at the dawn of the Industrial Age.
Mr. Schoenfeld should ask himself, if he were hired by a prestigious law firm and discovered that all of the new hires from Yale Law School were paid 25% higher starting salaries than the new hires from Harvard, where he was trained, would he be willing to comfort himself with, "at least I am doing better than a lawyer from 200 years ago."
Note from KBJ: This letter is revealing. To a progressive such as the letter writer, it's not whether you can meet your needs. It's about how much you have relative to others. In other words, it's about envy. The progressive drive to equalize income and wealth is rooted in envy.