Evan Soltas
Apr 3, 2013

To Fix Inequality, Look Past Taxes

In Bloomberg, I explain why an inequality debate that's only about taxes is insufficient. We need to be looking at a much broader set of public policy options.

Government can redistribute income, but it can't redistribute fathers. Yet government is not helpless. Public policy has a huge influence on multidimensional inequality -- though we see it most clearly when things go wrong. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, reformed in 2010, led to a roughly tenfold increase in the number of adults incarcerated for drug-law violations. The social damage was immense.

There's an optimistic way to look at that history, though. Government could achieve a lot simply by making fewer gross errors of that sort. If government can't redistribute fathers, it can reform policies that, in one way or another, drive many away from responsible fatherhood. Criminal-justice reform and education reform may be the most powerful anti-inequality weapons.