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
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
We make this point all the time. It’s what’s essentially wrong with the arguments that come from Thomas Friedman and the World is Flat crowd.
Education does not work for everyone and it can’t be our only solution to inequality.
Some people just can’t be educated out of their circumstances. Humanity is beset with a capability gap which only evolution can undue. We need better solutions if we’re going to make the world a more equitable and just place.
If we really want to address issues of inequality and economic insecurity, there are a lot of other policies that we have to pursue besides or at least in addition to education policies, and that part of the debate has been totally lost. Raising the minimum wage, or providing a guaranteed income, which the last time we talked seriously about that was in the late 1960’s, increasing workers’ bargaining power, making tax policies more progressive—things like that are going to be much more effective at addressing inequality and economic security than education policies.
So we have this strange situation where we’re trying to address educational inequality while economic inequality is expanding in ways that make educational inequality even worse.
This article gets into what the growth in inequality looks like from the white male middle class point of view. Lately these people have been painted as deplorables, but many aren’t. If we don’t build a society that addresses their needs too then we are not going to see things get better.
He also had a narrative about his own life. It’s not the agency narrative you often find in the professional segments of society: I found my passion and steered my own ship. It’s more of a reactive, coping narrative: A lot of the big forces were outside my control, but I adjusted, made the best of what was possible within my constraints and lived up to my responsibilities.
There’s honor to that, too. Still, over the past many months speaking with people in these situations, I can’t help feeling that society is failing them in some major way, and not just economically.
Dignity and Sadness in the Working Class http://nyti.ms/2cVrd5A
The idea that the rich can provide for public needs through their philanthropy has shown once again that it doesn’t work.
At the same time, the spectacular growth of the most visible institutions may distract from how art institutions are faring as a whole. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, between 2002 and 2012, average adult attendance at art museums and galleries declined, by as much as 30 percent.
That makes it all the more important to see that, whatever its glories, the great American museum boom mirrors all the irrational extremes of the age of inequality.
How the Rich Are Hurting the Museums They Fund http://nyti.ms/2a30XkN
Fighting development and population growth with zoning laws is like building a sand castle to keep out the tide.
The world is over populating itself, our country included. Saying we won’t build more homes to preserve desire able neighborhoods ignores the demographic reality. The US will have a third more people by 2050, another 100 million people. Where should we put them?
Cities can either plan for the growth a benefit or pretend you can keep the hordes at bay and suffer the consequences. NIMBYism doesn’t work and this study shows it exacerbates inequality too.
A growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy.
“We don’t need one more job in Boulder,” Mr. Pomerance said. “We don’t need to grow anymore. Go somewhere else where they need you.”
How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality http://nyti.ms/29rPY6w
The real issue which plagues humanity’s interactions is not how to fight inequality. It’s not about inequality, there will always be some degree of it. The real question is how will we all get along. How do we find a a way to exist together? What solutions work for society in general not just the elites.
Clearly what we’ve been doing isn’t working.
Current approaches aren’t working — and unless something dramatic happens, Americans are heading for a society in which a tiny elite controls most of the wealth, resources and decision-making power.
that question hasn’t changed much over the last few centuries. “It is the eternal conflict of management and labor, owner and worker, rich and poor — only with one side pinned to the ground and the other leisurely pounding away at its adversary’s face,” he writes. Today, polite circles tend to describe this as the issue of “inequality.” Frank prefers an older formulation. “The 19th century understood it better: They called it ‘the social question,’ ” he writes, defined as “nothing less than the whole vast mystery of how we are going to live together.”
some people are living much better than others — and many of those people are not Republicans. Frank delights in skewering the sacred cows of coastal liberalism, including private universities, bike paths, microfinance, the Clinton Foundation, “well-meaning billionaires” and any public policy offering “innovation” or “education” as a solution to inequality.
‘Listen, Liberal’ and ‘The Limousine Liberal’ http://nyti.ms/1T2ajeU