Envy over income ‘inequality’ isn’t what built America

Envy over income ‘inequality’ isn’t what built America

In a Dec. 4 speech, President Obama declared income “inequality” to be “the defining challenge of our time.”

It is time for me to come clean, to own up to a dark secret I have been hiding most of my life. It is embarrassing to admit it, but I suffer from income inequality.

Yes, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people who make more money than I do, and it has affected my life in ways too numerous to recount.

Starting with my first summer job as a bellhop and kitchen worker at a hotel in Maine when I was 14, I kept records of the amount of money I earned. The ledger records that on a really good day I made as much as $8 in tips. The hotel owner paid me a salary of $20 a week, but included a small room in the basement and all the food I could eat. He made more money than I did.

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When I was 37 I made $25,000 a year and took public transportation to and from work. Many others, including most of the people I interviewed, made far more money than I did. Some of them had cars and drivers to squire them around Washington.

Was it “fair” that these people were richer than I was? Absolutely, as long as I had the opportunity through education, risk-taking, experience and hard work to eventually make more.

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