San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, January 3, 2014

Freedom - Bad; Gun Control - Good

Anne Culver wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post earlier this week in which she exhorted me to "grow up."  I have been around for over five decades and, aside from the extra pounds I somehow manage to put on each winter, I have been grown up for quite a while now.  If anything I need to grow down a bit.  I will be working on that in this new year, along with everyone else, at my local gym.  Of course, that is not what Anne means when she orders me to grow up.  Anne hates gun owners and believes that citizens in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika need to modernize and remove the right to own and use firearms from the Constitution.   For her, growing up means becoming less free.  For her, growing up means becoming more dependent upon the government.  Let me tell you a bit about what Anne believes.
Rather than putting words into Anne's mouth, let me quote her directly.  She wrote this letter to the editor in response to people like me who believe that the murder of the Arapaho High School student a couple of weeks ago would not have been prevented by stricter gun control laws.  The young lady who was murdered was named Claire Davis.  Anne writes, "The worst of this is that Claire died because she lives in the United States, a country where too many think that freedom means no holds barred. To the next person who writes that further gun laws will not stop these heinous acts, I say to you:  Then you had better come up with something that works,because your way is clearly not working."  Anne packs a lot of nonsense in those two sentences.  Allow me to unpack it for you.
Anne believes that Claire died because she lives in a country with insufficient gun control laws.  She believes this despite the fact that Colorado, the state in which Claire died, has some of the most strict gun control laws in the United States.  She believes this despite the fact that the Colorado legislature recently passed a series of gun control laws, in response to the previous Aurora theater massacre, that were designed to make sure what happened at Arapaho High School would never happen.  How did those laws work out?  Not very well it would appear.  The rather obvious fact of the matter is that Claire is not dead because of where she lived.  She is dead because a fellow student at Arapaho High School murdered her.  To blame the United States, whatever it is, for the death of Claire Davis shows a detachment from reality that is downright scary. 
Although nobody asked for it, Anne gives us a definition of the United States.  According to Anne the United States is "a country where too many think that freedom means no holds barred."  Now that is a very strange definition for a country.  It is even more strange given the fact most people continue to wrongly believe that the citizens of the United States (now the Socialist Democracy of Amerika) continue to have any freedom at all.  Anne, contrary to those of us who truly love freedom, believes that we are too free in this sad country.  Anne thinks we need more government presence in our lives.  Anne believes that a more interventionist government will ensure that bad things never happen to people.  Anne, simply put, worships the government.
I am a person who believes that further gun laws will not prevent future murders.  As evidence for my position I present all of the gun laws that were just signed into law a couple of months prior to the murder of Claire Davis. When those laws were signed the politicians who created them told us that we were taking a gigantic step forward towards greater protection from those who would shoot us.  We were told that the mere signing of the paper that contained the words that described the new law would somehow magically bring about a new state of affairs where kids would not be murdered by other kids in the government schools.  How did that work out?  Quite obviously, the new laws failed miserably.  Despite all of the new regulations on gun ownership and use, the student murderer successfully killed Claire Davis.  You all know the definition of insanity don't you?  Doing the same thing over and over despite the fact that the outcome remains the same is the definition of insanity.  Creating more and more gun laws despite the fact they do not stop people from killing each other is insane.  Anne Culver is insane.
Anne quite properly tells me that I have to put up or shut up.  She has proposed that guns be made illegal in this land.  She believes that will solve the "problem" of murder.  I disagree.  But, as Anne points out, I have to have something to put in the place of her erroneous argument.  I cannot simply reject her argument that guns should be declared illegal without offering something in its place.  As Anne so eloquently wrote, "you had better come up with something that works, because your way clearly is not working."
Anne is experiencing cognitive dissonance.  It is her "way" that is not working.  Colorado's body of gun regulation laws, expected to stop all government school murders, did not work.  My way has never been tried.  She can't possibly tell me that my way is not working when it has never been tried.  My "way" is quite simple.  However, let me confess up front that my "way" will not "work" if the definition of work is the eradication of all future murder.  My way is predicated upon the understanding that people are basically bad.  My way recognizes that we do not live in a utopian society where evil does not exist.  In fact, in our society everyone is evil.  Everyone is capable of murder at any time.  The surprising thing about life in the SDA is not that so many are murdered, but that so few are murdered.  So if Anne wants me to propose a solution to murder, I have none.  Murder will always be committed so long as men have evil hearts.  My way recognizes that the best way to minimize evil behaviors in men is to create disincentives for those evil behaviors.  Would the Arapaho High School shooter have been successful in murdering Claire Davis if all students were free to carry guns?  I don't know.  I can't predict the future or rewrite the past.  What I do know is that a serious disincentive is created in the mind of a potential high school shooter when he knows all of his fellow school mates are armed. My solution to the problem is a simple one....freedom for all, all the time and everywhere.  Anne believes we have too much freedom.  I believe we don't have nearly enough.
Students should be free, under the guidance of their parents, to carry any type of weapon they want, anytime they want, anywhere they want.  Furthermore, students should be free to not be forced to attend government schools.   In fact, children should be allowed to work as soon as they want to get a job.  Not everyone is cut out to be a student.  Let those who are bored with school go to work.  Let them learn a trade.  Schools should be free from government control.  We need complete privatization of all schooling in this land.  Abolish all government schools.  Abolish all branches of government that regulate education.  Then, let the private schools decide how to deal with security issues.  Freedom, freedom and more freedom is the answer to Anne's question.  Sadly Anne believes government, government and more government is the answer to the problem of human evil.
Anne concludes her letter by offering up the usual platitudes about what "we", whoever that is, have to do.  According to Anne, "we must tackle seriously the problems of mental health and we must find ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  More is needed than what is in place today; how can any thinking person deny this?"  I don't see why the "mental health" of my neighbor is any of my business.  If I had my way everyone would be locked up as a madman.  That is why it is a good thing I do not get my way very often.  Just who are we going to assign the duty of determining mental status to?  A government bureaucrat?  A politician?  Who gets to decide who goes to the looney bin and who walks the streets?  No thanks Anne, I prefer freedom, despite its associated risks to life and limb.  I am a thinking person and Anne tells me it is impossible to deny that we need more gun control laws.  She must be thinking on a higher level than I am because I cannot possibly see how more government laws will keep people from killing each other.  On the other hand I can clearly see how more freedom could reduce criminal activity.
Anne concludes by telling me to "grow up, gun-rights folks.  This is the 21st century, not the 18th."  Well, at least she is correct in her chronology.  We are in the 21st century.  What that has to do with the issue at hand is hard to tell.  Most important, however, is Anne's exhortation for me to grow up.  Clearly she believes she is morally superior to me.  Clearly she believes she is intellectually superior to me.  Clearly she believes she is superior to me in every way.  Why else would she order me to "grow up" simply because I believe I should have the freedom to own and use guns as I see fit?
I have considered myself to be a grown-up for quite some time now.  As a grown-up I believe that I am responsible for my own behavior.  I also believe that I have a right to be free.  Now Anne comes along and tells me that I am wrong.  She tells me that my freedom is what is responsible for people getting murdered in this land.  Anne believes this because she believes that people are basically good and only do bad things when they are "mentally ill", whatever that means.  When I was a child I believed the world was a safe place in which to live.  When I became a man I realized my childhood fantasy was just that, a fantasy.  The world is not safe.  People are not good.  The government cannot protect me.  It is my duty to protect myself.  Sometimes the bad guys win and good people get killed.  That is life and there is nothing the government can do to change it.  It is my responsibility to protect those under my authority and no one else's.  I will either do a good or a bad job at protecting those under my charge.  The government hinders my ability to protect those under my authority when it takes away my freedom, especially my freedom to use powerful tools to protect myself from evil.
Anne, I am a grown-up.  Please don't exhort me to grow up ever again.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Avoid Tokenism In 2014

Tokenism is defined as "the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing."  I think that is a good definition.  Tokenism is a practice that is harmful to you on many levels.  Regular practitioners of tokenism become shallow and vapid human beings.  There are few things that will suck the joy out of living more than tokenism.  Tokenism does not accomplish anything of value for either the person doing it or the person on the receiving end of the token.  And yet it is a behavior that is practiced on a regular basis by millions of people in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Let's think about the whys and wherefores of that for a while today.
Why would someone want to make only a symbolic effort at doing something?  What could possibly be the point of symbolic efforts?  By definition a symbolic effort does not accomplish the stated goal.  If we spend just a little bit of time thinking about it I believe we can figure out the answer.  First we must give up our crazy belief that people are basically good.  Second we must give up our equally crazy belief that people spend anytime thinking about anyone other than themselves.  Once those two ridiculous beliefs are abandoned it is easy to see why tokenism is so popular.  People make symbolic efforts at doing things because it makes them feel good about themselves.  It, as usual, is all about themselves.
If my experience with human beings is normative, and I am not saying that it is, then most folks have a serious case of cognitive dissonance.  I was accused of suffering from cognitive dissonance a couple of years ago by a brilliant young man who responded to one of my blog postings.  I was so sick with the malady I was unable to discern if he was right or wrong.  I have since recovered from my bout of cognitive dissonance and can now regularly see it in others.  Cognitive dissonance is that human condition where folks have an image of themselves that is radically different than the image others have of them.  Somewhere in all that mix there is also a "real" person.  That real person can differ from the person's view of himself as well as other people's views of him.  There is plenty of cognitive dissonance to go around.
Human beings have a problem.  We are all sinful.  In fact, apart from the grace of the God of the Bible, everything every person does is sinful.  Even those deeds that would normally be considered good (helping me across the street) are not really good deeds because the person helping me is doing so out of selfish motives.  That makes even his allegedly good deeds sinful in nature.  But as sinful human beings we do not like to acknowledge that sin permeates everything we do.  To get around this inconvenient truth humans have decided to suppress that truth by engaging in tokenistic behaviors that allow us to tell ourselves that we are good, while at the same time suppress just how bad we really are.  I believe it is fair to say that every token behavior is believed to be an example of a good behavior by the person who is performing it, especially if it were actually the case that the person was doing the behavior and not just pretending to do it.  Therein lies the problem with tokenism.  Those who engage in tokenism gradually remove themselves from reality.  They gradually build up a self-image that is totally separate from who they really are.  They come to believe they are good people when they really aren't.  In time these folks can create an alternative universe in which to live.  In this universe they are great and everyone else admires them.  When everyone else is engaging in the exact same form of tokenism it is rather easy to see how people become more and more isolated from one another.  That isolation is characteristic of all modern life.  If we are going to fight relational isolation we must start by stripping away our tokenism. 
I would like to help you discover the tokenistic behaviors in your life.  I list a few of the more notorious ones below.  See how many you practice.  See if you can come up with some of your own.
  • The placement of fake "ribbons" on everything.  It seems as if there is a ribbon for everything these days.  I think they are most commonly discovered on car bumpers but they can appear anywhere.  They come in a variety of colors but they all assume essentially the same shape.  They declare to the world that you are a crusader against breast cancer or animal abuse.  They can also inform the world that you have a child who is a marine who is personally responsible for the fact that I have not yet been killed by a terrorist.  Spending a couple of bucks for a ribbon to put on your car's bumper is a good example of tokenism.  It costs you nothing but it sure makes you look good.
  • Small financial offerings.  Do you ever go to a church service?  What do you do when the offering plate comes around?  Do you put a couple of bucks in it?  How about when you walk past the bell-ringer outside the grocery store on Christmas eve?  Do you put a couple of bucks in his pot?  Indeed, do you put a couple of bucks into a lot of different causes?  If so, you are a token giver.  You don't really support anything but you can tell yourself that you do.  Christians and their churches are notorious for this practice.  Churches will support their "missionaries" with monthly payments of a couple of bucks and then claim to be supporting "X number of missionaries".  What a joke.  It is all tokenism, pure and simple, but it does allow the members of the church to feel good about themselves as they congratulate each other for supporting "missions".
  • Did you get your gym membership for 2014?  This is one of the best.  For a very small amount of money you can open a membership at the local gym.  You will go there faithfully for a couple of days.  Then your workout will slip back down the priority list to where it was last month.  Still you tell yourself you have a gym membership and you still manage to get there a couple of times throughout the year.  Tokenistic exercise does not get you into physical shape but it makes you feel swell mentally.
  • All talk of "prayer".  This tokenism really disturbs me.  Anytime something happens that most people believe should be labeled a tragedy, the phrases start getting thrown about.  You know them, you have heard them, maybe you have used one yourself.  "I am sending out my prayers..."  "Our thoughts and prayers are going out..."  "I will pray for you..."  With all these prayers being sent out, going out and flying around I am surprised I have never been hit by one.  Nobody follows through on these promises, which is probably a good thing since God gets angry at people who pray wrongly.  How about we stop pretending to be people who pray, eh?
  • Pretender clothing of all sorts.  I have noticed that people will purchase and wear clothing designed to convey a particular image.  I have often noticed this in the mountains.  I will often come across someone who is decked out with hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars of clothing and outdoor gear all designed to impress me in regards to their mountaineering skills.  I remember one group of three Yuppies who were decked out in such a fashion.  All of them were sporting new clothes and packs.  They were out to climb a 14er.  They had come to a small creek that, due to the previous evening's low temperature, had iced over the stepping stones used to cross the creek.  I quickly danced across the creek while they attempted to figure it out.  When I came back that way in the afternoon I discovered they had set up camp on the other side of the river since they had been unable to figure out how to cross it without getting water on their new gear.  They were token climbers, at best.
  • Speaking of token climbers, there is a program in Colorado called "Flat 14ers."  It was set up by some liberal do-gooders who tell fat kids that if they walk a lap around the track at school they have just completed a "flat 14er"!  Ha! Ha! Ha!  Now that is a token if I ever saw one.
  • Singing "God Bless America" at sporting events.  In addition to being tokenistic, this behavior is downright dangerous.  For the most part, the folks singing this song have no idea who God is.  They have no idea what He thinks about America. They have no idea what it means to invoke the blessing of God upon America.  Still, they sing the song anyway.  They sing it heartily.  They sing it with tears in their eyes.  They sing it with patriotic lumps rising in their throats.  It costs them nothing, or so they believe, to sing it and it gives them the huge reward of believing they are God-fearing patriots and lovers of God and country.  This behavior just needs to stop.
  •  One of my all time favorite examples of tokenistic behavior is voting.  Let me let you in on a little secret.  Voting does not work.  Your vote is meaningless.  Your vote will never change the outcome of any election....ever.  It is worthless.  It is a waste of time.  It accomplishes nothing good and a lot that is bad.  Still, people line up to vote and castigate those who do not join them.  Voting is the perfect example of tokenism.
  •  Time with family.  There is an entire genre of movies that deal with the dysfunctional family.  Every month or so a new "hit" is released that features an imaginary family that gets together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, a wedding or a funeral and all they do is fight.  Everyone agrees that the movie captures the true spirit of family relationships.  If this is true, why do people also continue to insist that "family time" is the most important thing?   If families really are this bad, and I believe most of them are, why do we say that the family is the most important institution in the land?  Let's quit talking about family time as a good thing and recognize it for what it is....a waste of time. 
I could go on and on here today.  Maybe you have a favorite token.  Let me know if you do.  Meanwhile, why don't we take a token pledge to avoid all tokenism this year?   I sure feel good about that.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Uninsured? You Are A Lawbreaker

How many people in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika  realize that it will soon be illegal to not own health insurance?  Starting tomorrow all people are required by law and under threat of punishment to purchase a health insurance policy.  In case you are wondering, the Supreme Court of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika already considered the law created by Congress and signed by King Obama requiring all of us to buy a health insurance police and deemed it to be 100%, high grade constitutional.  So you can't complain about it.  But you must comply with it or you will become a lawbreaker.
Does it strike anyone besides me that it is very strange to have a law forcing people to buy something?  If the Constitution of the United States give Congress and the King the power to force us to buy stuff, why not force us to buy things like broccoli, multivitamins, annual doctor's visits and other things that are expected to be good for us?  Certainly our rulers want us to be healthy and if a law can make just one person more healthy it is worth it, right?  Better yet, why not force us to buy alcohol, tobacco and firearms and thereby reduce the surplus population?  Scrooge would be proud.  If the law can be used to force you to buy things, I want a law that will force you to buy what I make.  If my congressman wants my vote he had better enact a law that requires all citizens of this country to buy very poorly hand-crafted clay ashtrays.  If you have a problem with that, take it up with the police and the judicial system that will punish you for ignoring that wonderful new law.
The fact that our rulers are making laws that force us to purchase things exposes a serious moral flaw in our legal system.  In particular, we have no philosophy of law.  We have no idea what a law is or what a law should do.  We have no idea what constitutes a good law or a bad law.  All we have is blind obedience to our rulers as they craft an endless supply of new laws that criminalize things we have been doing for years.  Something is seriously wrong with the legal system of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika when yesterday's moral activity is today' criminal action.  (The opposite is also true.  Something is seriously wrong when yesterday's criminal action is today's moral activity.  Marijuana is legal in Colorado tomorrow.  I wonder if those sitting in prison cells for smoking marijuana are happy about the new law?)
For a law to be a law it must directly relate to a moral principle.  This is not a difficult concept to understand, although government employees, abortion advocates and legislators act like it is.  It is wrong to murder.  It is therefore a good law which says one will be punished if he commits murder.  It is wrong to steal.  It is therefore a good law which says one will be punished if he steals.  It is wrong to commit adultery.  It is therefore a good law which says one will be punished if he commits adultery.  As you can see in the progression above, I have already moved into moral relativism.  All but abortion advocates agree that it is wrong to murder.  Abortion advocates are a relatively small group.  All but those who are on the receiving end of government transfer payments believe that it is wrong to steal.  Those who receive government transfer payments are a much larger group.  But almost no one believes it is wrong to commit adultery any more.  Everyone commits adultery.  When the moral sensibilities of the majority of the voters (aka "democracy") becomes the standard by which something is determined to be right or wrong, it will not take much time before we are all awash in moral relativism.  In the SDA today we are drowning in moral relativism.
Law no longer exists to enforce a moral code.  Law no longer exclusively pertains to our three civil rights of life, freedom and personal property.  Insofar as the laws of the land were restricted to protect each person's life, freedom and personal property we never experienced any conflict that could not be resolved by a fair application of the law.  But law no longer exists to protect our civil rights.  The law of the land today exists primarily for the purpose of allowing the politically connected majority to impose its will on the minority.  The law is the means by which we pick each other's pockets.  In other words, the law of the SDA is designed to accomplish the exact opposite of what the law of the USA was designed to bring about. 
Yesterday you could walk down the street unmolested and with a clear conscience if you did not own a health insurance policy.  Tomorrow you are a wanted man if you do not own a health insurance policy.  What changed?  Why is a completely innocuous non-action legal yesterday and illegal tomorrow?  Why are you acting immorally if you do not buy a health insurance policy next year when you were moral all this year without one?  There are no moral answers to these questions.  The only answers to these questions are political answers and they are disgusting and corrupt.
The reason it was legal to walk about this year without owning a health insurance policy is because not owning a health insurance policy was recognized as having nothing to do with morality.  The reason it will be illegal to walk around without a health insurance policy next year is because the majority of the voters in the SDA want the minority of the citizens of this sad land to purchase a health insurance policy for them.  Obamacare is a federally funded program.  The top 49% of the income population pays all federal taxes in this country.  It is therefore necessarily the case that the lower 51% will receive all of the federal funding for their Obamacare health insurance premium credits while the top 49% will get the dirty end of the stick and be forced to pay for them.  Obamacare is a system of income redistribution whereby the top 49% is forced to pay for the health insurance of the lower 51%.  It is socialism at its finest.  In order for socialism to work it is necessary to create an entire body of law that makes it legal to steal from the politically unprotected.  Now that Obamacare is the law of the land, you are a lawbreaker if you do not willingly agree to have your money taken from you and used to pay for the health insurance policy of someone else.
It is all quite ironic.  What I did yesterday was not illegal.  Tomorrow I will be behaving illegally.  But in truth, I am not behaving immorally.  Those who are stealing my income, via the enormous bureaucratic apparatus of the federal government as directed by our King, are guilty of theft.  They are the true lawbreakers.  The fact that my health insurance premium has almost doubled in order to pay for the premiums of envy-ridden freeloaders is an act of theft, but it is legal in the SDA.  I am not the real lawbreaker here because I am not violating any moral principle.  On the other hand, the entire government of the SDA, from the King down to the lowest federal bureaucrat, is breaking moral principles on a daily basis.  So, I ask, who is the real lawbreaker? 
If you are connected to the government in any way that causes you to be an accomplice to the thousands of immoral activities it engages in every single day, I exhort you to quit your job and find something moral to do.  The new year is upon us.  Is it not time for you to be able to live with a clear conscience?  Are you not tired of working for a criminal organization?  Are you ready to come over to the right side?   I know, you are building up a huge, taxpayer financed retirement pension.  That is part of the problem.  The Beast will try to keep you in his service by promising you goodies like retirement pensions.  But you must rise above all of that.  You must resist the temptation of getting something for nothing.  You must stop participating in a system that steals from one to give to another.  Robin Hood was not a hero, he was a thief.  You must behave morally.  You must repudiate theft, murder and especially envy.  For your own good, for the good of your neighbor, for the good of what is left of your country and especially for the good of your immortal soul, please quit your job before it is too late.  Stop being a lawbreaker while you still have the chance.  Come over to the light side where people strive to protect the lives, freedom and property of their neighbors.  Join those of us who believe it is a good thing to leave others alone and mind our own businesses.  Return, oh citizens, to the moral principles that existed so long ago in this land.  Decide today that you are going to stop your life of crime and dedicate yourself to a life of service to others.  Yes, quit your government job and go into business. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Truth About Income Inequality

King Obama has dedicated himself to the socialist dream of total equality in all matters of life.  In various speeches over the past month he has continually preached about the evils of income inequality.  Our King seems to define income inequality as a state of economic affairs in which those who have the greatest wealth and income experience the highest rates of increase in that wealth and income.  I will accept that as a reasonable definition of income inequality.  However, I do not accept the idea that income inequality is a bad thing and harmful to the economy.  In fact, just the opposite is the case.
The King is not alone in his proclamation that income inequality is "the defining challenge of our time."  Others, primarily socialists and economists who get paid by the federal government, have come out to agree with him and are calling for massive socioeconomic changes to eliminate this allegedly horrible evil.  In a report by Christopher Rugaber of the Associated Press a couple of weeks ago, Chris informed me that "the growing gap between the richest Americans and everyone else isn't just bad for individuals, it is hurting the U.S. economy."  He also told me that "middle-class pay has stagnated while wealthier households have thrived."  He blames the fact that "higher pay and stock market gains are flowing mainly to affluent Americans" as the primary reason for the problem.  He backed up his thesis by writing that "according to government data and academic studies, income inequality has steadily worsened in recent decades."  I decided to check him out.
I downloaded the spreadsheets from the IRS that tabulate the tax return data for all tax returns submitted for each year.  In particular, I downloaded the data from 1996 and 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.  Those two spreadsheets provide a nice 15 year picture of the real changes to income.  I think it is fair to assume that what people report on their tax returns is as good a picture as any to get a grasp of changes to household income.  What did I learn?  Several things popped out.  The chart below shows the amount of adjusted gross income that was required to be at the margin of each income cohort shown ("Negative" means the members of that group reported negative income for the year):

                                  Income Cohort                  1996                      2011
                                    Bottom  1%                  Negative                Negative
                                    Bottom 10%                   <4,000                  <5,500
                                    Bottom 25%                 <11,000                <14,000
                                    Middle 50%            Between 11-45k     Between 14-69k
                                    Top 25%                      >45,000                 >69,000
                                    Top 10%                      >75,000               >130,000
                                    Top 1%                      >250,000               >470,000

Based upon the above information I have compiled another chart that shows the percent change in adjusted gross income (not inflation adjusted) for each income cohort for the 15 year period from 1996 through 2011.  Note that I have also included an additional column that lists percentages related to the adjusted gross income of each group.  The percentage shown is the percent of that year's income paid in federal income taxes.

                                  Income Cohort           Income Change         AGI % In Taxes
                                    Bottom 1%                        NA                      Cash Back
                                    Bottom 10%                    +38%                        12%
                                    Bottom 25%                    +27%                        11%
                                    Middle 50%                     +47%                        12%
                                    Top 25%                          +53%                         22%
                                    Top 10%                          +73%                         25%
                                    Top 1%                            +88%                         29%

Several things are abundantly clear from the data.  The first is that it is true, income inequality has accelerated over the past 15 years.  People in the lower income cohorts have seen their adjusted gross incomes rise less quickly than those in the higher income cohorts.  In fact, the correlation is direct for all but the bottom 10% where I have to assume that government transfer payments have resulted in a more rapid rate of increase in income for those in that category when compared to those in the bottom 25%.  However, this is not the entire story.
Every income group has seen a real (inflation adjusted) increase in personal income.  Nobody has dropped behind.  Nobody has stagnated, as we are often told is the case.  When the proponents of income inequality speak they usually endeavor to make it appear as if some income cohorts are actually going backwards.  That is clearly not the case.  Everyone is making more money than before.  In addition, the middle class has seen a nice gross increase of almost 50% over the 15 year period.  The median AGI for all tax returns in 1996 was $22,500.  In 2011 it had grown to $33,000, an increase of 47%.  All talk about the death of the middle class needs to be put to rest.  It is clearly untrue.
Something that is rarely mentioned is the fact that the bottom half of the income population gets to keep considerably more of their income than the top half does.   The bottom half experiences a rate of tax extraction equal to 12% of its income.  That percentage rises rapidly when one gets above the mid-line for income.  The top 25% of earners pay 22% of their income in taxes, the top 10% of earners pay 25% of their income in taxes and the top 1% pays a whopping 29% of their income in taxes.  People who made over $10 million in 2011 (there were 11,445 tax returns reporting that figure) paid an average of $5.7 million of their income to the IRS.  That should be enough to satisfy even the most envious socialist but, of course, it doesn't. 
Speaking of envy, we continue to be an almost perfectly socialistic nation.  The bottom 50% of the country pays a grand total of 2% of the federal tax bill.  The top half pays 98% of all federal income taxes.  That means all government programs funded by income taxes are essentially paid for by the "rich" on behalf of the "poor".  Karl Marx would jump up and down in his grave with joy to see his socialist dream come true.  The tax code is especially punitive on the really rich.  The top 1% paid 32% of all federal taxes in 2011 and the top 10% was forced to cough up 66% of the entire bill.  Welcome to the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.
Getting back to the concept of income inequality, why should the above data be a bad thing?  Why is income inequality dangerous to the economy?  The answers to those questions reveal the true intentions of the preachers of the anti-gospel of income inequality. If we are going to live in the real world, and not a socialist utopia, it is important for us to realize that it is absolutely essential and logically necessary that people who have higher annual incomes will experience a more rapid rate of increase in their future incomes.  The reason is simple.  Those who make more money tend to invest that money. Investments produce income.  The more they make the more they invest and the more they earn.  The circle spirals upward.  Conversely, those who either do not earn enough income to make investments or those who spend all of their income on consumption will not experience the same rate of income growth.  Their income growth will be directly related to their income from work whereas those who have investments will see their income grow in relationship to both their work and their investments.  That is a good thing.  It is called letting your money work for you.  It is also called putting your money to work.  Every person who ever earns a dime in this country should seek to get to the position where his money is working as hard, or harder, than  he is.  This is, in fact, what used to be called the American Dream.  Please tell me, what is wrong with that?
Why is it bad for people to invest and make more money?  Why is it right for someone to not invest and demand government transfer payments from those who do invest?  Where do those who make the decision to not invest any of their money obtain a moral claim on the income of those who do?  Nobody ever answers those questions.  Instead we just get a constant stream of propaganda telling us that income inequality is evil and will destroy the country.
Income inequality is a necessary result of free market capitalism.  However, despite what the King tells us, it is not bad for the economy.  In fact, it is good for the economy.  A fallacious Keynesian  presupposition about the negative consequences of income inequality is the basis for this erroneous belief.  Keynes erroneously believed that the economy grows because of consumer spending.  He believed that economic growth would decline (recession) if consumers did not spend enough. He also believed that government should pick up the slack and spend like crazy whenever consumers were not spending enough, however much that mystical number is.  Keynes was an idiot.  As even a grade school student can understand, an economy grows because of savings and investment.  Consumers can try to spend all they want but if entrepreneurs have not first produced goods and services for them to purchase, there will be nothing for them to buy.   It takes a college education and a job as a government economist to miss the obvious truth that consumer spending does not create capital.  That explains why Mr. Rugaber quotes government economists in support of his thesis.  Several of them belly up to the intellectual bar and spout their opinions about how lower income earners need to have more rapid rates of income growth because they spend more of their money on consumer goods and, thus, drive overall economic growth.  Hogwash.
Economic growth is the direct by-product of savings and investment.  Those in the upper income levels save and invest far more than those in the lower income levels.  Although an unpopular truth with the envy ridden masses, it is the rich in our society who drive economic growth. More precisely, it is the investment activity of the rich people who walk among us that is primarily responsible for the production of the goods and services we can all buy.  Rather than being excoriated they should be praised.  Rather than complaining that their wealth is increasing faster than those people who do not invest, we should celebrate their success.  Rather than hating them and calling them names, why not try this....next time you see a rich person walk up to him, shake his hand and thank him for his service to you, the country and the economy. I am sure he will appreciate it.