Two recent news items of note. First, this extraordinary piece by News Hour’s Paul Solman, which illustrates the disconnect between what people think about America’s income distribution and the shocking reality:
Harvard economist Richard Freeman tells Solman of the “astounding” growth of income for America’s upper 0.1 percent. “We’re about the same level of inequality as China, and of course in China half the population are rural peasants and not a part of the modern world.”
Also notice that it's the poorer workers interviewed by Solman who seem to know the most about the state of inequality in America.
Next, Joel Kotkin writes at Forbes about increasing incidents of street violence in Western countries suffering from similar problems of income inequality, especially those nations that responded with austerity programs that hurt the lower classes most. He concludes:
"[M]odern society cannot run according to the individualist credo of Ayn Rand; economic systems, to be credible and socially sustainable, must deliver results to the vast majority of citizens. If capitalism cannot do that expect more outbreaks of violence and greater levels of political alienation — not only in Britain but across most of the world’s leading countries, including the U.S."
As more Americans come face to face with the reality of an economy spinning dangerously out of balance, will increasing incidents of violence occur here as well?
I think how we respond to the tremendous crisis of inequality in America is the largest challenge our nation has faced in decades. So far Washington has failed to adequately address this. Can we afford any further mistakes?