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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

David Brooks "The Wrong Inequality"

In my last post, I cited statistics from David Brooks's Oct. 31, 2011 op-ed "The Wrong Inequality."  But the article irritated me enough to cause me to write a separate post about it.

Brooks agrees that "the zooming wealth of the top 1 percent is a problem," but he says:

"it’s not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the 40 percent of children who are born out of wedlock. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the nation’s stagnant human capital, its stagnant social mobility and the disorganized social fabric for the bottom 50 percent."

He concludes: "If your ultimate goal is to reduce inequality, then you should be furious at the doctors, bankers and C.E.O.’s. If your goal is to expand opportunity, then you have a much bigger and different agenda."

He seems to be hugely missing the point.  It's not that we should be upset about "zooming" incomes of the rich in the abstract.  OWS is upset because of the control over the government that that "zooming" wealth enables the top 1% to exert.  

Yes, there are many problems in this country that can't be directly traced to the excesses of the top 1% (although of course, the current recession and much of the country's crippling debt burden can).  But what are we supposed to do to solve those problems, which have been with us since long before the Occupy Wall Street movement?  Is he proposing we start a "stop having kids out of wedlock movement"?

No, OWS has identified a specific problem that CAN be fixed:  The US government is largely controlled by wealth.  Fixing THAT problem might not immediately solve the other problems that Brooks is talking about, but at least it will align government more closely with the aims and needs of the majority of people, and bring the government back into harmony with its founders' democratic ideals.  That's not a call for big government as opposed to small government -- we just need a government that acts in the interests of the majority, rather than the wealthy minority.  And perhaps if that happens, solutions to the social problems will start to appear. 

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