A Republican’s View On Inequality March 8, 2013March 8, 2013 WE’RE SETTING RECORDS! Well this is exciting: Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age. . . . Even if the temperature increase from human activity that is projected for later this century comes out on the low end of estimates, scientists said, the planet will be at least as warm as it was during the warmest periods of the modern geological era, known as the Holocene, and probably warmer than that. . . . Dr. Mann pointed out that the early Holocene temperature increase was almost certainly slow, giving plants and creatures time to adjust. But he said the modern spike would probably threaten the survival of many species, in addition to putting severe stresses on human civilization. To the extent there is anything to be concerned about here, I think the solution must lie in (a) simply denying it and (b) cutting tax rates on the very rich. AND SPEAKING OF THE VERY RICH . . . . . . continuing yesterday’s discussion (did you find 12 minutes to watch those two clips?), there’s this from Sheila Baer’s recent op-ed: The yawning gap between rich and poor has been growing since the 1970s and reached a 90-year peak in 2007, just before the financial crisis. The Great Recession narrowed the gap a bit, but now, once again, the richest Americans are vacuuming up what wealth is out there, a trend that Mr. Saez expects to continue. I am a capitalist and a lifelong Republican. I believe that, in a meritocracy, some level of income inequality is both inevitable and desirable, as encouragement to those who contribute most to our economic prosperity. But I fear that government actions, not merit, have fueled these extremes in income distribution through taxpayer bailouts, central-bank-engineered financial asset bubbles and unjustified tax breaks that favor the rich. This is not a situation that any freethinking Republican should accept. # And now a bit of accumulated reader feedback (thank you, accumulated readers) . . . CANNED FOOD In response to the 12-year-old Campbell’s tomato basil soup I recently enjoyed (well, I guess older the 12, as that was the expiration, not the birth, date), Ken Doran offers this link: “Food technologists define shelf life not by how long it takes for food to become inedible, but how long it takes for a trained sensory panel to detect a ‘just noticeable difference’ between newly manufactured and stored cans. There’s no consideration of whether the difference might be pleasant in its own way or even an improvement—it’s a defect by definition.” See my point? CAR MATH Jim Batterson: “Your link to UBER last week was broken.” Ah. I was arguing that it’s nuts to own a car in New York City. We have subways. We have buses. We have cabs. And now we (and many other cities) have Uber. I’ve written about this before, but Uber is sensational — and you and I each get ten bucks if you use this link to sign up. Krikor Daglian: “I just re-read your Investment Guide for the fifth or sixth time . . . borrowed from the New York Public Library, which is a great way to save money on books and DVDs. You can now download some books directly to your Kindle through nypl.org, or have a physical copy delivered directly to your local branch free of charge. Anyway, I’ve been inspired again to find all the areas I could be saving some money, and have been making sure my Roth IRA has a nice balance of low-cost funds. Which brings me to your latest column. I’m one of those rare Manhattanites with a car. I hold on to it because my mom is 75 and lives alone in NJ, so I like to be able to get over to her quickly and easily at any time. It’s also very convenient sometimes (trip to Ikea, getting out of town, or even just going somewhere in Queens or Brooklyn that is ill served by the subway). I want to assure you that it can be done inexpensively. I do street parking only (it has never been parked in an NYC garage – not one day). It’s an old car (’93 Camry) that I got for free as a hand-me-down (thanks again Mom), so I only do liability insurance, and since it’s rarely driven, I only tally up about 3,500 miles a year; my insurance costs are about $500 a year through USAA. I also do a lot of my own repairs — I’ve fixed a power window mechanism, replaced a side mirror and a door handle, and replaced the battery last week. Unfortunately, more difficult repairs, inspection and registration fees, and gas, not to mention EZ-Pass, do cost a bit. If it weren’t for Mom, I might consider ditching the car. But still, I wanted to let you know that it is possible to have a car in the city without spending a fortune on it!” I did this, too, for a while, decades ago, until I realized that everything in my life had come to revolve around “alternate side of the street parking.” But someone must agree with you or it wouldn’t be so hard to find a parking space in the first place. # More of your excellent feedback next week. Have a great weekend, shortened-by-an-hour though it will be. Spring is in the air!