Inequality: A Feature of the System

In his inaugural speech, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio returned constantly to the theme of “A Tale of Two Cities”. New York is big enough to be both of them at once – one a poor city where people barely get by and another that is wealthy beyond the imagination of most people. But it isn’t just his city that de Blasio wants to fix. “This inequality problem bedevils the entire country,” he intoned. “But it is not just a moral outrage, it is a horrible constraint on economic growth and on giving people the security they need to tackle problems.”

So starts 2014, the year when inequality is certain to be the big social, political, and economic issue. That is a given because after many years of intellectual stagnation the Democrats have a popular issue that they can run with. Where did it come from? A lot of credit has to go to a short video published in November 2012 that still lights up social media. And the reaction to it shows how far we have to go in order to tackle the problems of inequality.

After all, it’s not a matter of policy – inequality is a feature of the system we have.

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Inequality Becomes Intolerable

How bad has wealth inequality become in the US?  Thanks to a video that is becoming viral, a new discussion about inequality has fired up – sadly, just after our election cycle.  It takes off from work done 6 months ago by Dan Ariely and Mike Norton, first reported humbly in a simple blog.  But thanks to new graphics and explanation it’s lighting up the ‘net in a way not seen before.

As discussed previously, income and wealth inequality is the best indicator of a future slowdown in economic growth around the world.  More attention to this problem is certainly a good thing.  But the context of how this comes to be and what can be done about it remains elusive.  Let’s take a long view and see where the problem came from – and what can be done about it as we work to set up the next period of expansion that comes after the Managed Depression we are in now.

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