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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rich-Poor Gap Widens

Over the past generation, much mainstream economic thought has assumed that what is good for rich people is good for America. Naturally, this view has tended to transform university economics departments and business schools into cheerleaders for the Republican Party.

Ask professor Pangloss of the University of Chicago what we ought to do about capital gains or the inheritance tax or unions, and he will dazzle you with equations supposedly demonstrating that the political outcomes sought by the wealthiest Americans are also best for society as a whole.

That, at any rate, is the current economic orthodoxy. How well does it reflect reality?

Nearly 50 years ago, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith published The Affluent Society, in which he predicted that an increasingly wealthy America was in danger of producing "private wealth and public squalor." A few years later, Galbraith advised Presidents Kennedy and Johnson as they extended the post-New Deal state in ways that lessened the hardships of poverty for millions of Americans.
read more: Rich-Poor Gap Widens


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