Monday, February 20, 2012

Attacking the income disparity gap

Here's a fascinating essay comparing how the U. S. handled its income gap between the well-to-do and the bottom early in the 20th Century when William Howard Taft served as President.  The analysis quickly reveals how so much more conservative our nation has become, a trend that appears to be growing. 

Read the article and tell me what you think.

Radical Solutions to Economic Inequality

If only Americans today were as open-minded about leveling the playing field as we were 100 years ago.

The commission’s answer, released in a 1916 report, speaks volumes about the persistent dilemma of inequality in the United States, and about the intellectual timidity of today’s political responses. “Have the workers received a fair share of the enormous increase in wealth which has taken place in this country…?” the report demanded. “The answer is emphatically—No!”
Their numbers bore this out. According to the commission, the “Rich”—or top 2 percent—owned 60 percent of the nation’s wealth. By contrast, the “Poor”—or bottom 60 percent—owned just 5 percent of the wealth.

Today, after a century of ups and down, we’ve landed back at those extremes, give or take a few percentage points. But what’s striking about the commission’s report, read from a 21st-century perspective, is how limited our own debate about inequality seems by comparison. For the commission, inequality was a fundamental problem that threatened the entire fabric of American democracy. Today, by contrast, we’re busy debating whether a multimillionaire like Mitt Romney ought to pay a few more percentage points in federal taxes.

To read the entire article click here.

Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded.


Anonymous said...

Oh, for a day when Republicans recognized that a massive disparity in wealth might be a legitimate national issue, one involving the safety and stability of our social fabric, dare I say it, an issue of fairness! Who would have thought it: where is William Howard Taft when you need him?!

Anonymous said...

Stuck in his bathtub, last I heard.

rcorum said...

I read with great interest both the article you sited as well as another by Dr. Gage calling into question the methodology of Ken Burns, of all people. I also read an informative assessment of the Progressive Movement by Dr. Thomas Sowell. I want to first offer a disclaimer. I know that Glenn Beck has said a great deal about the Progressive Movement, but I assure you that I have not a clue what he has said. I don't want people to think that I am parroting him. One has to admire the idealism of the Progressives, but it seems that they didn't know were to stop and consequently they fell from power. Do we really need the government getting more involved to make things "fair?" Larry the other day you were sharing statistics about LBJ. Well, there are plenty of statistics about Lyndon, and the one that stares back at me is the one that shows the beginning of unsustainable debt began when Johnson started what came to be called the Great Society. You know that I have told your readers that I believe that your heart is good, and you are one of the few people who has the good character to match your good heart. My basic problem is when you start pulling out statistics. When you do that I can almost always find material that contradicts you statistics.
When all is said and done I believe that government has done some wonderful things, but it never seems to knows when to stop or how to get smaller. Have you not read the article where people have figured out again how to work the system with unemployment? When it runs out just claim you are mentally ill and go on disability.