The Constitution was designed at a time when there wasn’t any meaningful inequality among the white property owner class which wrote it.
The problem is that our constitutional system might not survive in an unequal economy. Campaign contributions, lobbying, the revolving door of industry insiders working in government, interest group influence over regulators and even think tanks — all of these features of our current political system skew policy making to favor the wealthy and entrenched economic interests. “The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest,” Gouverneur Morris observed in 1787. “They always did. They always will.” An oligarchy — not a republic — is the inevitable result.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “There can be no real political democracy unless there is something approaching an economic democracy.”
For all its resilience and longevity, our Constitution doesn’t have structural checks built into it to prevent oligarchy or populist demagogues. It was written on the assumption that America would remain relatively equal economically. Even the father of the Constitution understood this. Toward the end of his life, Madison worried that the number of Americans who had only the “bare necessities of life” would one day increase. When it did, he concluded, the institutions and laws of the country would need to be adapted, and that task would require “all the wisdom of the wisest patriots.”
Our Constitution Wasn’t Built for This https://nyti.ms/2y5UDEK
This article points out the likelihood that people prefer fairness to equality, and that we may be using them interchangeably when we shouldn’t.
What we see from studies of children and studies of small-scale societies is an early-emerging desire for fairness, and a particularly strong motivation not to get less than anyone else. But we don’t find a smidgen of evidence that humans or any other species naturally value equality for its sake.
This is the new colonialism. Western corporations are forcing their junk food down the collective throats of the developing world.
The story is as much about economics as it is nutrition. As multinational companies push deeper into the developing world, they are transforming local agriculture, spurring farmers to abandon subsistence crops in favor of cash commodities like sugar cane, corn and soybeans — the building blocks for many industrial food products. It is this economic ecosystem that pulls in mom-and-pop stores, big box retailers, food manufacturers and distributors, and small vendors
The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished.
How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food https://nyti.ms/2jyJTww
A look at what we could do to prevent the next crash as opposed to what we’ve done in the past.
The Fed missed the crisis in part because it has a dual mandate to keep unemployment and consumer price inflation low — and both were low before 2008. Real reform would add a third mandate: maintaining financial stability, and in particular stabilizing prices for assets like houses and stocks, which are not counted as “consumer prices” but now have a bigger influence on the economy.
What Trump Can Do to Prevent the Next Crash https://nyti.ms/2y0ynwn
Is it morally acceptable for a small number of people to have most of the wealth if they “meritorious” or “good people”?
Or rather, is it morally preferable to have a society in which such enormous gaps don’t exist regardless of how “nice” those at the top are?
These efforts respond to widespread judgments of the individual behaviors of wealthy people as morally meritorious or not. Yet what’s crucial to see is that such judgments distract us from any possibility of thinking about redistribution. When we evaluate people’s moral worth on the basis of where and how they live and work, we reinforce the idea that what matters is what people do, not what they have. With every such judgment, we reproduce a system in which being astronomically wealthy is acceptable as long as wealthy people are morally good.
Calls from liberal and left social critics for advantaged people to recognize their privilege also underscore this emphasis on individual identities. For individual people to admit that they are privileged is not necessarily going to change an unequal system of accumulation and distribution of resources.
Instead, we should talk not about the moral worth of individuals but about the moral worth of particular social arrangements. Is the society we want one in which it is acceptable for some people to have tens of millions or billions of dollars as long as they are hardworking, generous, not materialistic and down to earth? Or should there be some other moral rubric, that would strive for a society in which such high levels of inequality were morally unacceptable, regardless of how nice or moderate its beneficiaries are?
What the Rich Won’t Tell You https://nyti.ms/2xgXQoV
The Monumental Debate Pt.4
Memorials to our history are everywhere in the U.S. not just in the South.
While the past does not change, our interpretations of it as we gain new evidence and insight can and should. Collectively determining what we valorize in the public square is the responsibility of the people who live in these stained places now. We can and must recover them.
Confederate monuments in the South, in all of their artistic barbarity and weighty symbolism, are but one kind of commemoration of slavery and white power among many that shape our everyday environments, influence our collective identities and silently signal what our national culture validates.
The South Doesn’t Own Slavery https://nyti.ms/2xVkfnX
Building back the same way in Houston will doom us repeat history.
Congress and state legislatures disburse emergency funds, which are then offset in budgets with cuts to social services and public spending. We are seemingly in a permanently reactive mode, with money often going to rebuild “back to normal” as though this is proof of bravery in the face of tremendous uncertainty. Recovery from previous disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, has had regressive effects, heightening the disparities between rich and poor and perpetuating systemic racism.
We should plan recovery and rebuilding projects that address local poverty and exclusion, rather than line the pockets of developers. We should commit expenditures to the kinds of projects that mitigate climate change, like clean energy and public transportation. And we should strengthen our safety nets so that when the next storm’s victims are picking up the pieces, they are not also worried about job insecurity, rising health care costs and precarious retirements.
In Hurricane Harvey’s Wake, We Need a Green ‘New Deal’ https://nyti.ms/2eI4OIG