05 June 2012

Eeyore and Inequality in the US

This new Op-Ed by Joe Stiglitz popped up on my news feed today. Here is an edited version of his opening salvo:
America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But [. . .] the statistics [. . .] show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.
This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries – and its gap with the rest has been widening. [. . .]  Other inequality indicators – like wealth, health, and life expectancy – are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.
Sometimes I feel like such an Eeyore, harping on this theme of persistent, increasing political-economic inequality in the US and its consequences.  But what is pretty stunning is how much resistance I encounter when I mention things like this in conversation - say, with students - which I take as simply one indicator of how thoroughly Americans acquiesce in this state of affairs.

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