Gets? How About Earns

The New York Times Economix blog reported yesterday that the "Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, has published a new report looking at disparities in wealth in the United States." They found disparities are extreme, lopsided and lots of other words that mean "bad."

Before getting into these wealth figures, Economix sums up previous reports specifically on income: "the highest-paid Americans have been claiming a larger and larger share of earnings." And "as of 2008, about 21 percent of income was received by just 1 percent of earners."

Today, on the Brian Lehrer show, economist Joseph Stiglitz said that "1 percent gets almost 25 percent of the the US."

I'm not disputing the numbers. I'm not an economist and I haven't looked at the data. My issue is with the language. These high-income people "claim", "receive" and "get" their money, according to the two examples above. It's like they're handed checks every week, poof, by magic. It minimizes the accomplishments of so many hard workers who reached their own American dream.

There are under-serving people in the ranks of the high-income minority, this is true. The last few years have made people particular sensitive to the question of whether someone deserves the paycheck they get. We saw storied companies fail while their leadership cut themselves huge checks and we saw government handouts given to prop up large corporations while mom and pop shut their store down. I get it, and I'm not criticizing those who point out that things in life are sometimes unfair. And yet it's still not appropriate to blanket condemn the rich. Let's face it, most of us hope to be in their ranks someday. We want to work hard and be rewarded for it appropriately. The best way for that to happen for us all is not to pretend that the rich don't earn their money. The answer isn't to make the rich poorer, through higher taxes, double-taxing, death-taxing, but to strive to make the poor richer.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.