For Whom Are We Producing?
No one needs a course in economics to know that income is distributed unequally in the United States. Whether we are rich as Bill Gates or poor as a church mouse, or in that vast in between referred to as middle America, income distribution is one concern we all share. It not only de termines how well we live, it is the payoff for all our striving, a sign in the market system whether we “made it.” The facts about who is getting what portion of the income and the theories explaining them, the distribution that ought to exist and the policies to achieve it, are emotional topics of debate in our society. Thus, it is more important here than in any other area of economic study to maintain the descriptive, normative, and policy distinctions. We will first examine some data on the distribution of income (empirical description), note some explanations offered (theory), identify some alternative normative goals advocated, and then review a few of the major policies that have come under consideration.