Discussions of inequality usually focus on the poor, and tax cuts often result in cuts to safety-net programs that indeed make the poor worse off. But the most immediate effect of tax cuts is to make the rich even richer. Depending on your politics, that might seem fair or unfair. But regardless of political leanings, data from psychology and neuroscience suggest a less obvious impact: Making the rich richer actually makes life worse for everyone else, including the middle class.
The reason has nothing to do with envy. Most Americans admire the wealthy and would rather join them than beat them. Nonetheless, humans can’t help comparing themselves to each other. When others around us get richer, it raises our standards for how much is “enough.” When your friends and neighbors start installing gleaming quartz countertops, the granite that made you proud a few years ago starts to look a little shabby. Just as it takes more money to feel middle class today than it did a century ago, it takes more to feel middle class when others around us get richer.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe