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Inequality

It must be nice to be rich. Inequality isn’t something that you need to be concerned about. As a matter of fact, you can sit around and try to increase the inequality in America so that you can almost guarantee your children won’t really have to work. Must be nice.

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From Paul Krugman:

A couple of days ago the Times published a fascinating portrait of a society being poisoned by extreme inequality. The society in question is, in principle, highly meritocratic. In practice, inherited wealth and connections matter enormously; those not born into the upper tier are, and know themselves to be, at a huge disadvantage. Furthermore, you can clearly see some of the other costs of inequality — for example, expenditure cascades, in which the less well-off feel compelled to go into debt in an attempt to keep up.

The society in question? The Harvard Business School, where students who can’t spend lavishly on social events are effectively in an inferior class, and borrowing to keep up appearances is apparently common.

The point is not that we should weep for middle-class HBS students, most of whom still have better prospects than the great majority of Americans. It is, instead, that what’s going on at HBS is a microcosm of what’s happening to America, and an excellent illustration of the harm extreme inequality can do.

By |2013-09-13T22:28:35-04:00September 13th, 2013|Economy|Comments Off on Inequality

Detroit goes bellyup

Detroit – abandoned projects

On Friday we heard that Detroit was in deep trouble and filing for bankruptcy. When you let the rich work in your city but live elsewhere, and pay taxes elsewhere, this is what happens.

From Robert Reich:

One way to view Detroit’s bankruptcy — the largest bankruptcy of any American city — is as a failure of political negotiations over how financial sacrifices should be divided among the city’s creditors, city workers, and municipal retirees — requiring a court to decide instead. It could also be seen as the inevitable culmination of decades of union agreements offering unaffordable pension and health benefits to city workers.

But there’s a more basic story here, and it’s being replicated across America: Americans are segregating by income more than ever before. Forty years ago, most cities (including Detroit) had a mixture of wealthy, middle-class, and poor residents. Now, each income group tends to lives separately, in its own city — with its own tax bases and philanthropies that support, at one extreme, excellent schools, resplendent parks, rapid-response security, efficient transportation, and other first-rate services; or, at the opposite extreme, terrible schools, dilapidated parks, high crime, and third-rate services.

The geo-political divide has become so palpable that being wealthy in America today means not having to come across anyone who isn’t.

Detroit is a devastatingly poor, mostly black, increasingly abandoned island in the midst of a sea of comparative affluence that’s mostly white. Its suburbs are among the richest in the nation. Oakland County, for example, is the fourth wealthiest county in the United States, of counties with a million or more residents. Greater Detroit — which includes the suburbs — is among the nation’s top five financial centers, the top four centers of high-technology employment, and the second-biggest source of engineering and architectural talent. Not everyone is wealthy, to be sure, but the median household in the region earns close to $50,000 a year, and unemployment is no higher than the nation’s average. The median household in Birmingham, Michigan, just across the border that delineates the city of Detroit, earned more than $94,000 last year; in nearby Bloomfield Hills — still within the Detroit metropolitan area — the median was more than $150,000.  (more…)

By |2013-07-24T21:19:57-04:00July 22nd, 2013|Economy|Comments Off on Detroit goes bellyup

Monday Morning News Roundup

Watch Raising Adam Lanza on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

For the most part, I enjoy watching Frontline. This particular Frontline tells the story of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. Unfortunately, half of this episode spends a lot of time trying to re-create who Adam Lanza really was. I find that most re-creations are superficial and are not helpful. The second part deals with the debate over gun violence and gun control. This I find more fascinating. One reporter stated that this is the most divisive topic in the United States. There is no middle ground. He compared it to the abortion debate. I agree 100%.

I’m not sure why former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decided that it’s time for him to step back into the spotlight. He still believes that he lost the presidential race because ObamaCare was too attractive to minority and low-income voters. One of these days, he will read some polls that were not generated by his own campaign and figure out that he was simply unpopular.

One of the promises of the Internet was that it was going to be able to bring high-quality education to everyone. New research suggests that people who are already at the back of the class, as far as learning goes, do poorly with online learning scenarios. (more…)

By |2013-03-05T21:09:32-04:00March 4th, 2013|NFL, Obama administration, Party Politics|Comments Off on Monday Morning News Roundup
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