Income equality: Don't fight the other guy's fight

There's an old axiom in boxing that says you'll never win if you fight the other guy's fight.

If he's a slick boxer, you should try to pressure him, break his rhythm, force him to get into a punch-for-punch shootout.  Conversely, if your opponent is a brawler, you should use fluid side-to-side movement and long, quick jabs to keep him at bay and prevent him from getting close.  There's a more colloquial expression for all of this: "Don't hook with a hooker."

Politics is not at all different.  The winning side is the side that is most successful at framing the argument in terms more advantageous to its favored positions, the side that can convincingly present the talking points that play to its strengths while minimizing the amount of time and conversation spent in areas not to its liking.

For purposes of this discussion, let's look at one issue.  Democrats love this one.  They get great mileage out of it.  The "mushy middle" of inattentive, low-information voters is persuadable, being particularly susceptible to a message phrased simply that casts the voter as a victim.  When someone is told he's a victim and I, your humble Public Servant, will come to his rescue, it can be compelling.  Elections are often won or lost by the effectiveness of messaging to this bloc.

The issue?  Income inequality.  Message: Republican fat cats are overpaid.  The implication: If the fat cats were paid less, that leftover money would somehow magically make its way directly into your pocket.  Income inequality is the source of all your ills.  Greedy conservatives are unfairly given the money that should rightfully go to you.

That's the Dems' message.  "Billionaires are immoral."  They push it hard and often.  Republicans, to date, have had no effective counter to it.  Nothing short, pithy, and memorable.  Nothing that is so true and unarguable that it shuts up the Democratic speaker — whether it's a candidate, a party spokesperson, or a liberal media talking head — and puts him into a state of open-mouthed shock.

The entire notion of "income inequality" is a farce, a non-issue, all appearance and no substance.  When Republicans attempt to answer it, they're doomed. They're playing the Democrats' game.

Instead, try this: "Senator Harris, let's suppose that tomorrow, your next-door neighbor hits the lottery for $500 million, and all of a sudden, he's incredibly rich.  Yesterday, you and your neighbor were in the same financial boat.  There was perfect income equality.  Today, he's totally rich, and you're not.  Complete income inequality.  Exactly how does your neighbor's new-found wealth prevent you and your family from living a perfectly nice life?"

The answer is that it doesn't.  People's income and financial status are independent of each other.  It's not a zero-sum game: one person's income doesn't go down just because another's goes up.  The economic pie is continually expanding.  It's not finite, where the size of one person's "slice" directly impacts the size of someone else's "slice."  GDP in America has more than doubled since 1999.  The pie is expanding.  There's more than enough for everyone.

The term "income inequality" needs to be called out by Republicans for what it is: a totally inaccurate, pejorative term invented by liberals, designed to make conservatives look bad to the liberal media and to inattentive, low-information swing voters.  The correct term is "income sufficiency."  As long as someone has an income sufficient to provide for his needs, that's all that matters.

Let your next-door neighbor hit the lottery.  Let Tim Cook or Warren Buffett make another few million today.  Their income is not what is holding anyone back.  There may be other things — structural or not — that cause any given individual to not enjoy income sufficiency, but the financial success of another person isn't one of them.

Of all the rhetorical scams perpetrated by the Democrats, "income inequality" is among the worst.  Republicans need to stop chasing that phony slickster around the ring, swinging and missing at a nonexistent opponent.