Posts Tagged ‘trust’

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 »

How the right wing steals your freedom

September 10, 2010

Over at, 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 »