Open Thread: “An Idiot’s Guide to Inequality”

Nick Kristoff, earnest well-meaning NYTimes Conventional Wisdomneer, has a nice short forwardable piece that reads, to me, like another straw in the progressive wind:

The rush to purchase Piketty’s book suggested that Americans must have wanted to understand inequality. The apparent rush to put it down suggests that, well, we’re human.

So let me satisfy this demand with my own “Idiot’s Guide to Inequality.” Here are five points:

First, economic inequality has worsened significantly in the United States and some other countries. The richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Oxfam estimates that the richest 85 people in the world own half of all wealth…

Second, inequality in America is destabilizing. Some inequality is essential to create incentives, but we seem to have reached the point where inequality actually becomes an impediment to economic growth…

Inequality causes problems by creating fissures in societies, leaving those at the bottom feeling marginalized or disenfranchised. That has been a classic problem in “banana republic” countries in Latin America, and the United States now has a Gini coefficient (a standard measure of inequality) approaching some traditionally poor and dysfunctional Latin countries.

Third, disparities reflect not just the invisible hand of the market but also manipulation of markets. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote a terrific book two years ago, “The Price of Inequality,” which is a shorter and easier read than Piketty’s book. In it, he notes: “Much of America’s inequality is the result of market distortions, with incentives directed not at creating new wealth but at taking it from others.”…

Which reminded me: I have a copy of The Price of Inequality, but I haven’t read it yet. Reviews by people who know more about math than I do have convinced me that Picketty is well above my pay grade, but Stiglitz is generally much more accessible to the nonspecialist. Anybody here who has read it want to offer an opinion whether The Price of Inequality might be worth doing as a “Book Chat” here?

70 replies
  1. 1

    I haven’t read Stiglitz’s book but I have read many of his peer reviewed papers and they are very readable and easy to understand and not jargon heavy.
    I also read him regularly on NYT’s Opinionator blog, his last post on the topic of inequality was particularly good.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Stiglitz is a very good successor to Galbraith in his ability to write for lay readers.

  3. 3
    efgoldman says:

    First, economic inequality has worsened significantly in the United States and some other countries.

    No shit, Sherlock!

  4. 4
    Linnaeus says:

    Piketty’s book may be a difficult read, but he makes use of a massive data set that no one did. It’s a little ironic to hear from folks like Kristoff how hard Piketty is to read, when he’s using the massive amount of data necessary to get anyone to take the argument seriously.

  5. 5
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    It’s a tough read. It’s long and depressing and to truly understand the magnitude of the problem requires a fair amount of math. My father, who has a doctorate in physics, helped walk me through the numbers, it was not something I could have done myself. It will also really take the wind out of your sails if you consider yourself a Democratic partisan, because one conclusion you won’t be able to avoid coming to is that when it comes to perpetuating income inequality and the destruction of the global working class, well, both sides do it. Very equally. And that is a pretty disheartening realization at a time when we can’t afford for anything to take the wind out of our sails. We’ve got two vital elections coming up in the next two years.

    On the other hand, conservatives are losing their minds over it because the few who are intelligent enough to work their way through the arguments absolutely cannot refute the conclusions. They may – and do – discount them, but they can’t argue with them. Goddamn numbers and facts and all that.

  6. 6
    Hal says:

    Chuck Todd was on Steve Kornacki this morning yet again insisting that President Obama hasn’t had Republicans over for dinner enough to try and tackle some of the issues Republicans in Congress simply don’t want to deal with. Per Todd, yes there is obstruction on the right, but at least Obama should try to bridge that gap with “one on one” lunches. Kornacki asked him if he thought giventhe tea party and impeachment talk, would lunches really help, and per Todd “let’s try.” Really?

    It is astonishing that Todd sees the solution to a group of people who want to impeach the President, have voted 50+ times to overturn the ACA, and who can’t even do the very basics of their job like fill Ambassadorships or federal judge vacancies, might be willing to come to the table on say immigration reform or a jobs bill if only Obama would have them over for chili.

    http://www.msnbc.com/up-w-stev.....iscussions

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Hal: Obama’s chili is very good.

  8. 8
    James E. Powell says:

    economic inequality has worsened significantly in the United States and some other countries.

    When making this point, a time frame is required. This is very hard to explain to people over 50 because the ruling class has succeeded in rewriting public memory. No one older than 50 seems to remember the high tax rates and massive federal government participation in the economy that produced the Golden Days of the American Middle Class (1945-1980).

  9. 9
    jenn says:

    Thanks for the book recs!

    And I wanted to say thanks to whoever it was who wrote how to disable the damn autoplay videos on Firefox: Thank You!

  10. 10
    James E. Powell says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    conservatives are losing their minds over it because the few who are intelligent enough to work their way through the arguments absolutely cannot refute the conclusions.

    So it’s like climate change, right? Everyone will see the facts and respond appropriately.

  11. 11
    efgoldman says:

    @James E. Powell:

    No one older than 50 seems to remember the high tax rates and massive federal government participation in the economy that produced the Golden Days of the American Middle Class (1945-1980).

    :::Ahem::: Generalization, generalization…
    Born 1945, I remember it damn well. And wish we had a polity with the guts to go at least part way back.

  12. 12
    efgoldman says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: @James E. Powell:

    Goddamn numbers and facts and all that.

    Numbers and facts have a liberal bias. Always have, always will.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    with incentives directed not at creating new wealth but at taking it from others

    In other words, theft. Parasitism. All the shit Adam Smith bemoaned in The Wealth of Nations.

    The solution is simple. Eliminate the parasites.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Hal: Chuckles the Toad’s head would look infinitely better on a pike than it does on his shoulders.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Honestly, I don’t think that head would look good anywhere.

  16. 16
    Glidwrith says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): You just don’t have enough imagination: make it into one of those shrunken heads, add in some glitter and you’ve got a lovely keychain or Christmas ornament.

  17. 17
    John Revolta says:

    @James E. Powell: Are you sure you don’t mean younger than 50? ‘Cause from where I sit, nobody younger than 50 (or maybe 40) even realizes that 80 or 90 percent tax rates were ever even a thing.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Glidwrith: Lovely? Chuck Todd’s head would need more than glitter to be lovely. Or am I being sexist?

  19. 19
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Lovely? Chuck Todd’s head would need more than glitter to be lovely.

    Yes, but it could be fabulous!

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @efgoldman: That it could.

  21. 21
    efgoldman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Chuckles the Toad’s head would look infinitely better on a pike than it does on his shoulders.

    Heads on pikes are the exclusive (patented) solution of Loomis over at LGM. Any use or re-use of the metaphor without express written permission….

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    @efgoldman

    Absolutely fabulous?

  23. 23
    Steeplejack says:

    @James E. Powell:

    I think you mean under 50, surely.

  24. 24
    Kropadope says:

    @Steeplejack: I took his meaning to be that the a large segment of the people who lived through this time were taken with the Reagan revolution and forgot government can be a force for good and that properly financing it isn’t slavery

  25. 25
    James E. Powell says:

    @efgoldman:

    I should have said most, but I’m an occasionally hyperbolic 59 year old. The 50 and overs are the ones who gave us George W Bush, which means they also gave us Roberts and Alito. They were also the major factor in electing the current Republican House. ‘Scuse me if I’m a little bitter.

    I swear, though, even many of my otherwise sane and solid Democratic voter friends have no memory. To ask them, the US economy was laissez-faire and low taxes until the 60s when the Democrats decided to spent 90% of the budget on welfare for non-whites and foreign aid. Oh yeah, and unions ruined an otherwise great country where wages were fair and employers treated their people like family.

  26. 26
    PurpleGirl says:

    @John Revolta: I agree with this. I was born in 1951 and I remember the higher tax rates. And I remember when individuals could deduct any interest payments, like credit card interest, on their taxes. (ETA: I’ve seen many changes to the tax codes over time.)

    Hell, I believe that in a few years we will once again have a wave of poor seniors (especially women) due to people who lost jobs in the recession, people who lost investments, people who could only get low-salaried jobs as replacements for previous jobs. With an average SS benefit of $1,200 many will be at or below the federal poverty level. Many will be forced to continue working and thusly deprive younger people of jobs.

  27. 27
    Glidwrith says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): maybe in the fashion of a Salvadore Dali piece, lovely from a distance until you get close enough to realize what it is.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @James E. Powell: I would say that you are hyperbolic mode right now. It’s not that bad and people’s memories aren’t that short. IMO, the pendulum started swinging leftward again around 2006. It just needs to pick up speed.

  29. 29
    James E. Powell says:

    @John Revolta: @Steeplejack:

    No. People under 50 couldn’t have any memory of those times. Their first presidential election was Morning in America.

    By “people over 50” I mean the Baby Boom. These are the people (generalizing) who benefited the most from the high taxes and massive federal government participation in the economy. What percentage of these people do you suppose owe their prosperity to those policies?

  30. 30
    James E. Powell says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    I remain forever scarred by 2010.

  31. 31
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    the pendulum started swinging leftward again around 2006. It just needs to pick up speed.

    We got caught in a perfect storm: Mid-term elections, which don’t go well for the presidential party, worst economy since the 1930s, which always leads to a cowed electorate, which leads to low turnout, which led to elections that, historically weren’t likely to the extent (63 seat turnover), which allowed a minority party to redistrict lots of states (like yours), which led to gerrymandring, which led to the shitbucket we’re in now.
    It’s a long, slow climb back, but it’s starting.

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @James E. Powell: Two steps forward, one step back.

  33. 33
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hal:
    For me the bigger question is why this is considered to be a valid criticism of the president rather than a massive hit against the Republicans. The Representatives were sent to Washington to do the people’s business, not to have their egos stroked by the President. Refusing to do their jobs out of pique at what they see as a personal insult is the response of a group of preschool brats, not responsible statesmen.

  34. 34
    efgoldman says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The Representatives were sent to Washington to do the people’s business, not to have their egos stroked by the President.

    Because it’s always eighth grade for the DC crowd.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Roger Moore: The MSM is wired for GOP messaging.

  36. 36
    Steeplejack says:

    @James E. Powell:

    I’m not arguing the policies. I’m saying that people over 50 are more likely to have some memory of the times of high marginal tax rates. etc.

  37. 37
    Steeplejack says:

    @James E. Powell:

    No. People under 50 couldn’t have any memory of those times. Their first presidential election was Morning in America.

    Nobody is disagreeing about that. I (and I think the others) just believe that your original statement makes more sense as:

    When making this point, a time frame is required. This is very hard to explain to people under 50 because the ruling class has succeeded in rewriting public memory. No one under 50 seems to remember the high tax rates and massive federal government participation in the economy that produced the Golden Days of the American Middle Class (1945-1980).

  38. 38
    Kropadope says:

    @Steeplejack: How can people who weren’t alive to experience that time period have their memory about it “rewritten?” Clearly the statement in question can only refer to people over 50.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Kropadope:

    Clearly the statement in question can only refer to people over 50.

    Which, of course, has been his point all along.

  40. 40
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    No. People under 50 couldn’t have any memory of those times. Their first presidential election was Morning in America.

    @James E. Powell: To have voted in 1980 you’d have had to be born in 1962 – 52 years old.

    Tax cuts, and the re-commencement of deficit spending, started under JFK, I believe in 1963, right before he was assassinated, (marginal rate cut from 90% to 70%) and have never stopped since.

    I’m 49 and my first election was Reagan v. Mondale 1984. Amazing that I continued to vote afterwards. God, that was depressing.

  41. 41
    Kropadope says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Yes and that was my 2nd attempt to point that out

  42. 42
    Steeplejack says:

    @Kropadope:

    I take “public memory” to mean the collective memory of the polity as a whole, not every person’s actual, individual memory. Sort of like the phenomenon of something being “common knowledge,” even though it may or may not be true. Or like how “public memory” was rewritten so that Iraq was our worst enemy ever, rather than our previous best buds when Reagan et al. were supporting them in their war with Iran and Cheney was giving Saddam the double-secret handshake.

  43. 43
    John Revolta says:

    We’re talking at cross purposes a bit. To know that something happened doesn’t require that you “remember” it happening.

  44. 44
    Steeplejack says:

    @John Revolta:

    I think we are confirming the Car Talk hypothesis that it is physically possible for a group of people to know less about a topic than any one of the individuals in the group.

  45. 45
    John Revolta says:

    @Steeplejack: Friggin’ hilarious. I never heard that before.

    I’m often amazed at what people don’t know anymore. I’ve personally seen people’s heads explode (okay, young people, but still) when they heard that it was once possible for the government to force you to join the armed forces and fight in a war or put you in jail if you wouldn’t go!!!

  46. 46
    James E. Powell says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    To have voted in 1980 you’d have had to be born in 1962 – 52 years old.

    Morning in America was 1984.

    @Steeplejack:

    It made sense the way I wrote it. People 50 and over, who happen to vote for Republicans more often than not, have apparently forgotten how high taxes and federal government participation in the economy benefited them and everyone else who was alive at the time.

    Those who are younger cannot remember those policies and did not benefit from them.Throughout most of their political lives, they have never heard a mainstream politician of any significance advocate higher taxes or more government spending. The two Democratic presidents they’ve experienced have both adopted and repeated the lie that government doesn’t create jobs. This is so embedded in the public’s political brain that even people who work for the government (e.g., school teachers) repeat it as if it were established beyond peradventure.

    The vast majority of those under 50 have no idea how unions made people’s lives better. They can’t believe that there was a time when city air was not breathable, or even transparent. They trust corporations more than their own government. Seriously, they do. But their not voting for Republicans!

    Older people know how things were and just choose to forget or ignore reality are doing that

    I’m sorry to go on like this, but I’m sick and sitting around unable to sleep and I shouldn’t have watched the fucking news today. Forgive me.

  47. 47
    Ruckus says:

    @James E. Powell:
    Yes some do remember.
    Very fucking well, thank you.
    May be old, but not yet suffering from senility and dementia.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    @James E. Powell:
    You call this prosperity? I’m not much older than you and I recall the tax rates and at least the opportunity for prosperity and I fully understand why we are no where close to that now. And the boomers are not the only people who gave us raygun. There were a lot of the greatest generation still voting then and a lot of their parents generation were also still voting. Only the oldest boomers were even eligible to vote in the 80 election.

  49. 49
    Suzanne says:

    Any word on John? How’s he doing? Did he make it to Hazelden?

    Mr. Suzanne and I went to see “A Most Wanted Man” tonight. Good movie, and sad to think that it will be Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last. He really makes it look effortless.

  50. 50
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @James E. Powell: You realize you’re talking to a bunch of people over 50 who negate your thesis, right? I mean, maybe that’s why your claim confused people.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ruckus:

    Only the oldest boomers were even eligible to vote in the 80 election.

    The demographic Baby Boom was from 1946-64, and the Baby Boom generation seems to be given a cutoff of somewhere between 1960 and 1964. Depending on which definition you use, either all or almost all of the boomers were old enough to vote in 1980. One or the other of the Reagan elections was the first in which all the boomers were old enough.

  52. 52
    Kyle says:

    @James E. Powell:

    People 50 and over, who happen to vote for Republicans more often than not, have apparently forgotten how high taxes and federal government participation in the economy benefited them

    Or they do remember, but being selfish Repuke turds they just don’t give a fuck about paying it forward to the next generation with their icky gay marriage, vegan fixie bikes and hippity-hop music.

  53. 53
    Chris says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    I think the ultimate conservative response isn’t to deny inequality, but to deny that it’s a problem. Clearly, the 1% who own as much as 90% of the public are working 90 times harder and contributing 90 times more. And clearly, if people at the bottom are dirt poor, it’s because they’re lazy and unproductive. The best they can do is ask their betters at church for help (who will be able to ascertain if they really deserve it), b u t the government shouldn’t be bothered with it.

    What Pliketty and we see as a social problem, they see as justice and fairness.

  54. 54
    Chris says:

    @Kyle:

    There’s also the tortured arithmetic of “yeah, but in OUR day, there was a work ethic… yeah, we had some public assistance, but that was for people who really needed it. Nowadays, everybody sits around expecting a welfare check for nothing. They’ve gone too far. It used to be a way to help hard workers get back on their feet, but now people live their entire lives on welfare!”

  55. 55
    James E. Powell says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    The people here – including my 59 year old never once voted for an R self – are not representative of the American people. I am going by the election results, particularly the last two, 2010 & 2012.

  56. 56
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @James E. Powell: A lot of blame gets put on the Boomers here. The Boomers voted for Reagan(by and large they didn’t in 1980), the Boomers are the reason we have the Tea Partiers, etc. Many seem to forget the Silents(1926-1945), they grew up with “failed” Truman presidency and the glory of Ike, think Happy Days. They’re most of the 65+ crowd. The Gen-X crowd is similar, “failed” Carter presidency and the glory of Saint Ronnie.

  57. 57
    someofparts says:

    @James E. Powell:

    This is very hard to explain to people over 50 because the ruling class has succeeded in rewriting public memory.

    On the other hand, some of us geezers have spent the last three decades learning to be very quiet while the rest of our age cohort went off the rails. That, plus wondering if you young things would wake up.

    During Reagan’s first term I found the perfect holiday gift for my mother. It was a $5 roll of toilet paper with Reagan’s face printed in cheerful Christmas red on each sheet. Mom adored it. She even put it up after Christmas day and brought it out in following years as part of the holiday decorations.

  58. 58
    someofparts says:

    I’m often amazed at what people don’t know anymore.

    Don’t feel too pregnant. A lady I work with is skeptical about the existence of homelessness. She lives in the country and doesn’t see it so she isn’t sure that it even exists at all.

    In her work on totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt notes that in a totalitarian culture people don’t even believe what they see with their own darn eyes if it contradicts what the Thought Police tell them to think. When people don’t even believe in things they can see, we may be far too ambitious to hope they will remember history at all.

    Speaking of memory, does anyone else remember that before Reagan deregulated the media, there were no shock jocks and no Fox News polluting the public conversation? The old regulations made that impossible.

  59. 59
    satby says:

    @someofparts: I do. And the Fairness Doctrine still makes Rushbo go nuts every once in a while. Which is why I wish it would come back.

  60. 60
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: But 62 is late boomer, almost into Baby Bust territory. Good point, though, those young Reagan fans weren’t GenX, reactionary GenXers couldn’t vote yet.

    I was born at the end of GenX. Older Xers worked on Clinton’s campaign, who I supported but was too young to vote for. (Would have gone for someone more liberal, actually.) Even as a teenager who’d consumed a lot of (in retrospect) kinda sick, racism-shot-through-it old school conservative boilerplate masquerading as serious political analysis, I could see the value of welfare programs. I remember a woman ranting to me about a lady on welfare who had the state of Massachusetts pay for her college in full and I remember thinking, you’re mad because the state gave her an education so she could get a job and get the fuck off welfare? The what what? Anyway, digression. I remember people my age canvassing for Bradley in 2000. I think I voted for him in the primary. Al Gore ran a shitty campaign and that fundraising irregularity shit blew up in his face, I think everyone forgets that. The internet nonsense is a sideshow because the engaged polity knew about his role as a senator. But I blame Clinton too because he should have fallen on his sword and resigned and let Gore run as a sitting president. The GOP wouldn’t have stood a chance with the way the economy was roaring. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    But I’ve lived in the South a while and I kind of understand his defiance now. Or, I can conceptualize it from the outside. It’s still stupid and self-defeating. And selfish. Very selfish. In the end, Clinton chose his personal “legacy” over the fucking country and everything he supposedly fought for. Clinton was all “I wasn’t gonna let them win.” Well, pyrrhic victory, bucko.

    The only good that came of it was Obama becoming president. You only get a decent human being as president once a century. Maybe Truman before him and then maybe Lincoln. I’m not so sure about TR. And Washington, for all his flaws, at least deserves credit for resisting the pressure and temptation to make the office something other than what was intended. Without the choices Washington made it could have been a Cromwell or name-any-20th-century-dictator situation and bye-bye democracy.

  61. 61
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @James E. Powell: I think some of the youngest people in our heartless wage economy have a very strong notion that unions make their lives better even if they’re confused by our deliberately byzantine union laws that make it difficult to organize and difficult to enforce the supposed rights that employees have. I’ve seen young people engage in collective action repeatedly and call upon an AWOL US Labor Dept for help. There are also big demonstrations going on for higher wages with union involvement. Not quite as big as the Iraq War demonstrations of yore, but give it time.

    Workers are treated so bad right now that nobody can enter the labor force fresh these days who is not the scion of immense privilege and treated as such who doesn’t look around and think, “I need a union!”

    It’s older workers who cling to the notion that they can get by without, that a union actually hurts them in some vague (cough racism) way.

  62. 62
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Ruckus: The Silent Generation is America’s more reactionary living generation. Too young to remember the depth of the depression, too young to serve in WWII.

    In my family, it was Silent Gen folks who voted, like lambs to slaughter, for Reagan. My boomer parents did not. They were horrified by Reagan. (My parents were younger Boomers and coming after a lot of the bulge never had the job opportunities yadda yadda that older Boomers did, as my mother was quit to go on and on about.)

    Of course, some of Reagan wasn’t generational at all. It was the Southern strategy. He was relying on white families who had inculcated racism and hatred from generation to generation and he made sure that they got the message that he was on their side.

  63. 63
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: Ding ding ding. Even the more liberal GenXers a decade older than me have a reactionary streak. I think it was also the fear and loathing in the 70s, coming of age in a time with a high crime rate and an authoritarian gov’t response. Perhaps there’s a degree of shame there, and defiance? (Where sex and drugs are concerned.) Millennials do not seem to have such hangups. They are refreshingly earnest (but also charmingly naive–too young to remember all the bad shit that Clinton did and how much of a disappointment he was).

  64. 64
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @someofparts:

    In her work on totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt notes that in a totalitarian culture people don’t even believe what they see with their own darn eyes if it contradicts what the Thought Police tell them to think. When people don’t even believe in things they can see, we may be far too ambitious to hope they will remember history at all.

    Some Czechs convinced me to read Good Soldier Svejk (or Schweik). I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate to the tale of a minority group deserter in the old Austro-Hungarian empire. But on the contrary, Svejk’s run-ins with the police and military were like life in America. We’re like the boiled frog and have no idea how much this endless empire has cost us. I recommend this book to any American. You will be shocked.

  65. 65
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    one conclusion you won’t be able to avoid coming to is that when it comes to perpetuating income inequality and the destruction of the global working class, well, both sides do it. Very equally. And that is a pretty disheartening realization at a time when we can’t afford for anything to take the wind out of our sails. We’ve got two vital elections coming up in the next two years.

    I guess they’re not really vital elections, then. Why bother?

  66. 66
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Chris:

    There’s also the tortured arithmetic of “yeah, but in OUR day, there was a work ethic… yeah, we had some public assistance, but that was for people who really needed it. Nowadays, everybody sits around expecting a welfare check for nothing. They’ve gone too far. It used to be a way to help hard workers get back on their feet, but now people live their entire lives on welfare!”

    This is pretty easy to understand if you consider that it’s basically about race. The New Deal was largely for white people; the Great Society attempted to be for others as well.

  67. 67
    jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    @efgoldman:

    That is one reason that Pierce’s “Tigerbeat on the Potomac” is so apt.

  68. 68
    Fred Fnord says:

    @Chris: “Didn’t need no welfare state.
    Everybody pulled his weight.
    Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.
    Those were the days.

    And you knew who you were then:
    Girls were girls and men were men.
    Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.

    People seemed to be content,
    Fifty dollars paid the rent.
    Freaks were in a circus tent
    Those were the days!”

    Everything old is new again.

  69. 69
    kc says:

    @Hal:

    What freakin planet does Chuck Todd live on?

  70. 70
    Neldob says:

    Let’s do The Price of Inequality book chat!

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