This is one of the best essays I’ve read in a long time.
If you don’t read the essay at least click the link at the bottom to jump to some quotes from it. This essay gets right to the heart of what I mean when I say Nobodyisflyingtheplane. The very essence of what it is to be an American is lost amid the scramble to get into the 1% before the doors slam shut. What so few seem to see, but this essay writer soundly declaims, is that the scramble itself and the closing of the doors is the problem not the solution. The conservative party, among it’s many other nefarious intents, wants everyone to believe that they can personally get into the elite club at the top. So believing, they will eternally support the exclusive protectionist policies of the conservative platform. This is plainly foolish. Even in the rosy colored remembrances we have of a particular time in our past when everyone was moving up and lives were improving, very few… wait, let me repeat that, very few people moved into the top economic strata in our country. We all buy into the belief in the glorious republic where anyone can make it. While that’s mostly true, we stretch this belief into one in which anyone can make it all the way to the top, and from there we stretch the mythology into I can make it to the top.
I’m sorry to say that’s just not true. The odds that you or anyone you know will become one of the economic elite in this country are astronomical. I’m saying this to a very intelligent, hard working, successful group of friends, but when you get down to it, its completely improbable. The problem with this is that we can’t let one party tailor our political, economic, and social policies for the few who will ever make this transition. Its tantamount to making the lottery our national fiscal policy. Conversly we can’t let the other party tailor policy for those who aren’t going anywhere no matter what we do for them.
what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive
Policy should allow for and reward occasional class jumping, but be tailored to an inclusive economy that raises the standard of living for the majority, not just the chosen few.
Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.
The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But … virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.
NYTimes: The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent http://nyti.ms/RD9yeF