University of California Berkeley student Jacob Grant refutes the assertion that income inequality is a dire problem.

…[T]here is nothing inherently wrong with an unequal distribution of income. Without income inequality, there would be no bonuses, raises, promotions or advancement; no way to reward education, hard work, skill or experience; no way to incentivize entrepreneurial risks or innovation. Many of us are at UC Berkeley at least in part because it will increase our future earnings — something only possible with inequality.

…The entire issue of income inequality is merely a red herring. It involves lots of big numbers and scary-sounding statistics that, as I’ve pointed out, aren’t actually that meaningful….

Some have argued that such gentrification is more harmful to locals than it is helpful. But many of the problems these protesters bemoan — higher rent, increased evictions, limited housing supply — are the result of decades of government action intended to protect lower- and middle-class residents. Restrictions on new buildings, regulatory hoops, rent control and city planning and zoning laws have made it extraordinarily difficult to expand the housing supply.

With no change in supply and increased demand, prices naturally go up. While no easy immediate solution exists, the city should focus on increasing the city’s housing supply in the future, even if it means relaxing some regulations. But these problems aren’t exclusive to San Francisco, or even the wider Bay Area. There is a need to trim back harmful, even if well-intentioned, regulation at every level of government — local, state and national — if we are actually going to improve the economic situation for people at every level of income.

Berkeley students are already heavily involved in the debate over gentrification and inequality. Our proximity to the nexus of the former and the apparent natural inclination as college students to crusade against the latter give us a real chance to impact the debate about both subjects in a meaningful way. If we want to actually make a difference, to actually improve things for those we purport to fight for, we will use this chance to focus on real solutions to real problems.