Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Six problems income equality would help solve (Update: Did I get completely suckered by The Spirit Level?)

October 19, 2010

Update [10/19/10]: Read the following post with a big grain of salt. A commenter has pointed out some serious sounding criticisms of the book from much of the post is excerpted.

I’ve threatened a couple of times to blog about income inequality as a way of addressing climate change. Robert Frank’s most recent column in the New York Times gives me an excuse to begin laying out the argument, which I’ve cribbed from a handy little book called The Spirit Level: How Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.

Frank gives us the context:

During the three decades after World War II, for example, incomes in the United States rose rapidly and at about the same rate — almost 3 percent a year — for people at all income levels. America had an economically vibrant middle class. Roads and bridges were well maintained, and impressive new infrastructure was being built. People were optimistic.

By contrast, during the last three decades the economy has grown much more slowly, and our infrastructure has fallen into grave disrepair. Most troubling, all significant income growth has been concentrated at the top of the scale. The share of total income going to the top 1 percent of earners, which stood at 8.9 percent in 1976, rose to 23.5 percent by 2007, but during the same period, the average inflation-adjusted hourly wage declined by more than 7 percent.

He also spells out the first problem that income equality would help solve:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Ralph Nader on the two freedoms

September 21, 2010

Chris Hedges writes at Truthdig:

“The corporate state is the ultimate maturation of American-type fascism,” Nader said. “They leave wide areas of personal freedom so that people can confuse personal freedom with civic freedom—the freedom to go where you want, eat where you want, associate with who you want, buy what you want, work where you want, sleep when you want, play when you want. If people have given up on any civic or political role for themselves there is a sufficient amount of elbow room to get through the day. They do not have the freedom to participate in the decisions about war, foreign policy, domestic health and safety issues, taxes or transportation. That is its genius. But one of its Achilles’ heels is that the price of the corporate state is a deteriorating political economy. They can’t stop their greed from getting the next morsel. The question is, at what point are enough people going to have a breaking point in terms of their own economic plight? At what point will they say enough is enough?

via @ericmjohnson.

How the right wing steals your freedom

September 10, 2010

Over at Grist.org, David Roberts sees GOP climate denialism as part of something bigger and more insidious:

The right’s project over the last 30 years has been to dismantle the post-war liberal consensus by undermining trust in society’s leading institutions. Experts are made elites; their presumption of expertise becomes self-damning. They think they’re better than you. They talk down to you. They don’t respect people like us, real Americans. Here’s Americans’ trust in institutions…from Gallup data (click for larger version):

Of course the decline of trust in institutions is multi-causal, but the right’s relentless assault has certainly exacerbated matters. Here’s another graph to chill your blood, showing the only two institutions in which trust is rising: Read the rest of this entry »