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As Trump Delivers Jobs, Biden & Sanders Talk Inequality
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Utah State University researchers released findings this week that one percent of trees in older forest constituted half of forest biomass globally. The axman, like the taxman, forever cometh to solve the slur against egalitarianism.

Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed inequality on Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, which a few months back published a primer on the subject.

The former vice president, in his speech and on his website, touts such ideas as banning non-compete agreements and a $6 billion plan to make college free for many students (but quite expensive, it appears, for the many nonstudents paying the bill).

“I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders,” Biden explained. “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble.”

The Vermont senator offers a more aggressive approach. He unveiled a Workplace Democracy Act on Wednesday to strengthen unions. He endorsed free community college for in-state students at a Maryland rally earlier in the week. All this comes on the heels of Sanders proposing a jobs-for-all plan that guarantees $15-an-hour work for all who want it on the federal government’s dime.

Both men — despite reaching a quarter-century more in age upon the next inauguration than Lenin when he met the most effective leveling institution known to man, the grave — figure to vie for the Democratic nomination (and income inequality figures to serve as one of the issues that decides that internecine contest). Whoever — and some confusion exists as to who did — said, “If you aren’t a socialist at twenty, you have no heart, and if you are a socialist at forty, you have no head,” never said it to these septuagenarian rivals.

Like the adage about the foolishness of generals fighting the last war, the inequality strategy may prove moot by 2020.

The best program combating income inequality remains jobs. The president enjoys a strong record here. The April jobs report gauges unemployment at 3.9 percent. That’s the lowest number since 2000. Black unemployment hit a record low. Adult female unemployment registers at 3.5 percent. The administration boasts that 15 states notched record low unemployment since the president took office.

Rhetoric about the wall and immigration finds its basis in inequality. Workers grasp basic economics that an infinite supply of a commodity — in this case labor—drives down price. Emphasis on fair trade with China similarly stems from inequality concerns. Manufacturers in the Rust Belt feel undercut by underhanded trade practices abroad. Whether the president’s solutions actually influence the change he seeks seems secondary in the context of the pending mid-term and presidential elections to the fact that it seems to work politically. Workers concerned about inequality believe Trump matches tough talk with tough actions.

In the case of Sanders, he talks without reference to transforming words into policy. The catharsis of a politician railing against the malefactors of wealth does not prove as satisfying as a thriving job market. And Biden’s ideas, though not so divorced from reality as to hold no chance of becoming policy, may strike Democratic voters as too lukewarm for their palates.

Trump does not use the phrase “income inequality” the way denizens of an Occupy Wall Street encampment did. But he addresses the concerns of so many left-behind Americans through grand gestures, such as his big 2017 press conference at the Carrier plant in Indiana, and big stick swings, such as the imposition of steel tariffs. Such actions validate the votes he received in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and other states he won that pundits insisted he would lose.

Trump may prevail in in 2020, and mitigate losses in 2018, based on addressing inequality, an issue not heretofore near-and-dear to the hearts of Republican bigwigs. And he may do so despite the obvious inequality between the number of times he and his rivals utter the term — and because of his refusal to believe chopping down the big trees helps the smaller ones.

Hunt Lawrence is a New York-based investor. Daniel Flynn is the author of five books.

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