Thursday, November 3, 2011

Andrew on Inequality

The Daily Beast offers an almost-daily video feature called "Ask Andrew Anything."  Today's installment asks Andrew, "What are your thoughts on inequality?"  His money quote:
I think there comes a point at which a certain level of inequality is inherently destabilizing to a political system, and I think we may even have passed that point.  And, therefore, I do not regard doubling down on indifference to inequality as appropriate at this moment. In fact, I think that some pragmatic balancing back, towards the middle of the last century [for example], is a perfectly appropriate position to take as a conservative.

When the last 30 years has produced the greatest distance between the richest one percent and the middle class, when the average CEO makes more than 300 times than the average worker he employs, when our own Congress and Senate, as a percentage of the wealth distribution in this country, can only provide 36 out of 535 seats (6.72%) to the bottom 80% of people in this country, then it's no wonder that Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are popping up all over the nation (with outcomes that are both peaceful and violent).  And while there are opinions on both sides (all sides, really) as to why this inequality has happened, it's impractical for anyone in any socio-economic stratum simply to shrug his shoulders and remain indifferent.  It is true that we are approaching (or may even have reached) the state of oligarchy in this country.  It is even more certain that we have reached a state of plutocracy.  And yet, I see otherwise middle class people, friends of mine on Facebook, extol the evils of a teacher's union that wants to preserve its standard of living while the Republican legislators, on white horses, just want to preserve as much state money for everyone as it can.

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