Thursday, November 20, 2014

Inequality at WSJ

"What the Inequality Warriors Really Want" a Wall Street Journal oped on inequality. It's a much edited version of my evolving "Why and How we Care About Inequality" essay. Any writers will appreciate the pain that cutting so much caused.

As usual I can't post the whole thing for 30 days, but you might find the WSJ short version interesting, especially if you couldn't slog through the whole thing. Their comments might be fun too.


  1. Professor.....your best piece in recent memory. Well argued. Yes, the WSJ comments are always fun, but the few that attempt to appears they didn't even read your piece.

  2. Approaching 500 comments at about 12:30 PM Central Time.
    You seem to have hit a nerve.... :-)
    I did like the piece. It seems to me that it does ask the relevant questions in all of this inequality debate.

  3. What the "inequality warriors" want is to avoid what all 4 living present and former fed chairs have warned threatens to undermine our entire society. We are, slowly, reverting to something that will look more like a feudal society and nobody, not even the uber rich, actually wants that. So lets do something about it already.

  4. "Progressives decry inequality as the world’s most pressing economic problem."

    I think you are setting up a straw man. I don't think I've heard any "progressives" object to the wealth of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. I do hear voices expressing concern about why inequality is as high as it is and growing but that is different than saying inequality itself is the most important problem.

    For myself I don't care if the Koch brothers are wealthy. I care a great deal if they are using that wealth to buy political power. I self identify as a conservative but I expect many people across the spectrum would agree with my concern about the use of money to buy political power.

    You, yourself, regularly express deep concern about regulatory capture. You should be "manning the barricades" challenging the wealth that is accumulated in the medical profession and on Wall Street as a result of regulatory capture.

    1. Absalon - do not mean to nitpick, but why do you single out the Koch Brothers? There are countervailing forces as wealthy as those Brothers on the other side as well. Think George Soros, Tom Steyer, almost the whole Hollywood billionaires crowd who pour money into left wing causes like drunken sailors, Michael Bloomberg, etc.
      Furthermore, you express concern about money in politics. Is it really such a concern? At the end, it depends on the voters. Liberals poured gazillions into the recent election, but still Republicans won big. All to say, that it is not really clear that the billionaires purchase elections outright. They may try, but it is not clear that the result is as clear-cut.

    2. the point is not whether or not using wealth to buy political power is a problem. The point is that you cannot fix this problem by expanding the "political power that is up for sale" through increased taxation and expanded government programs

    3. Manfred - I referred to the Koch brothers because the headline on the WSJ article referred to them.

      Gio - the point is that wealth is buying political power and using that political power to destroy the middle class. You are saying (in effect) that the buying of political power by the wealthy should be addressed by cutting taxes on the wealthy and cutting services for everyone else - how very convenient.

  5. Ok, so you missed John's point then mine

  6. The problem I have with inequality (in the US, this hasn't really happened anywhere else as afar as I know) is the lack of middle class income growth in the last 40 years. I don't care if rich people keep getting richer, I just want the middle class in America to actually see wage growth outpace inflation on par with other countries. (between 1978 and 2011, median household income in the UK grew 90% and 5% in the US)

  7. Perhaps what the inequality warriors want is to become rich and famous. That certainly worked out well for Mr. Piketty and numerous others.
    We might call this "the public choice theory of class warfare."


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