Welcome to Income Inequality Kos.
Join us Thursdays, at 9:00 p.m. eastern. We discuss income inequality, concentration of wealth, and related issues.
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The shared community value is a belief that income inequality is a political issue of high importance. Otherwise, all takes on the issue, from within the general Daily Kos community, are welcome.
Our Wedge Issue
Wedge issues are social or cultural issues used to split voters off, to drive a wedge between them and the party they traditionally vote with. The original wedge issue, the Grandaddy of 'em all, is racism. It first showed up in Nixon's "Southern Strategy". The idea was to use racism, white backlash against the Civil Rights movement, to split southern white voters off from the Democratic party. Racism is still, to this day, a fundamental element of conservative rhetoric. Someone on this site put it this way: "They only call him Muslim because they can't call him n***er." I agree entirely and anyone who denies the importance of racism to the Republican base is just not being honest.
On economic issues, Richard Nixon would be considered a socialist by today's conservatives. Let's look at how Ronald Reagan used the "social issues". Reagan used the wedge issues with a vengeance. They were all there, Christian fundamentalism, anti-intellectualism, gun control and, of course, coded racism. Do you suppose his supporters were thinking of white women when he railed against "welfare queens" ? He was able to split off large numbers of white working-class voters, the "Reagan Democrats". He used his victories to launch a vicious, and still ongoing, top-down class war. Deregulation, union-busting, tax-cuts for millionaires; the whole gamut of Friedmanite "free-market" economic policies were instituted under Reagan. The results of this economic extremism ? Every measure of income inequality and concentration of wealth begins to rise in the early 1980s. It's all there in the charts.
There has been some good coverage of income inequality in the mainstream press of late. (Better late than never, I suppose.) Robert Reich had this in the New York Times on Sept. 2. He cites the work of economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty who used IRS tax data to track income inequality from 1913 to 2008. He links to these charts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
There's a very good set of charts at Slate in a series on income inequality by Timothy Noah that began on the 3rd of this month. And there's this, by Louise Story from the New York Times back on August 21. Story cites the work of David A. Moss of the Harvard Business School. Moss overlayed charts of income inequality, bank failures, and deregulation, as follows :
This last one says it all, doesn't it ? In the Times article, Story questions whether income inequality could be the cause of financial crises. Moss himself is coyly non-committal on possible causal connections among the three factors. Maybe it's that course in inductive logic I had so many years ago, but it seems to me that to say that inequality causes bank failures is to commit the Fallacy of the Common Cause. It is obvious to me that deregulation causes income inequality financial crises. This brings us back to politics since deregulation is political. The people we elect to represent us in Congress pass, or block, the laws which govern economic activity. The President we elect appoints people to write regulations implementing the laws. He also appoints the people who enforce those laws and regulations, or not. The management of the economy is a political issue. In fact, it may very well be political issue.
So, we've seen how Republicans have used wedge issues to institute economic policies that have proven disastrous for the vast majority of Americans. My suggestion is that we use Income Inequality as our own wedge issue to peel off working-class Republican voters. I remember seeing a story in the MSM claiming that Tea Partiers were of above average education and income. I don't believe that at all. I've seen their misspelled signs and I've seen interviews with them. You can't tell me that those folks are the top 1% Hell, they think anyone with a 4-year degree is a member of the "elite". They appear to understand nothing at all about income inequality or concentration of wealth. I'll bet they're anxious about the future and scared to death. They know they've been screwed they just don't know how or by who. It is our duty to point it out to them. The corporate media won't do it. It's their job to hide income inequality, to muddy the waters. We have to keep hammering away: Income Inequality, Income Inequality, face to face and in any forum we have access to. We have to help them to understand that no matter what they think a campaign is about, no matter which social issues the Republicans are using, once in office, all Republicans try to increase income inequality. It's what they're all about, it's what they do, always.