Wealth Inequality and Denial

And that, Bennett explains, is the unique genius of our terminal cluelessness about one of the most important issues of our age: Believing that we inhabit a more just social order—and militantly not caring should we encounter the all-too abundant evidence to the contrary—is what keeps us from raising a dread populist hew and cry about what is a non-issue anyway. In fact, Brother Bennett preaches in the fashion of hordes of free-market propagandists everywhere, wealth inequality is a good thing: It bespeaks the robust dynamism of an innovative economy, where the quest for marginal competitive advantage greases the skids for everyone else. After all, Bennett explains, the comparatively flatter distribution of American wealth in the Eisenhower years came about in large part because “the wealthiest earners paid far more in taxes,” with the top marginal rate for incomes over $400,000 topping out at 90 percent. So all together now, in the requisite scowling, world-weary mien of a journalist employed by one of the richest men on Earth: “Any attempt to reimpose that sort of tax rate today would lead to a flight of wealth and talent from the U.S. And with apologies to the social scientists, other ideas for dramatically reducing the income gap are in short supply.”

Hmm, where have we heard that “talent flight” mantra before? That’s right—from the defenders of the outlandish executive bonuses doled out under the misbegotten early days of the TARP bailouts. It would indeed be a shame to have to send the Fabrice Tourres of the world packing for greener pastures. And with apologies to Bloomberg savants, there are plenty of ideas for reducing our objectively perilous levels of wealth inequality, from single-payer health care to nationalized universities to unionized workplaces. Most industrialized western democracies have all these things, and as a result, the pain of massive economic contractions like the one we’ve been enduring is actually less lethal in exotic far-off lands like Canada and France.

Chris Lehmann, at The Awl, breaking down the reasons USians don’t revolt. Or more prosaically, vote for progressive politicians.

This is why I think the tax receipt idea is such a good one, and such a political winner. It’s election time and I’m drowning in electioneering emails, etc. and I can’t see how this idea, especially in a climate of such anti-tax rhetoric, wouldn’t go over huge. Even the Tea Party crowd should love it, right? See exactly what that big bad government is spending your money on! Whoops…it’s not what you thought.



One Response to Wealth Inequality and Denial

  1. queenemily says:

    It bewilders me that Americans think they live in a just social order, and have somehow not managed to put together that the topheavy economy is dragging the whole country under..

    Nice that the journalist managed to track down a libertarian professor to comment though. Nobody does basic denial of reality like a libertarian.

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