The Great Debate

Fed tightening will help stem inequality

By Alexander Friedman
May 12, 2014

The Federal Reserve Building is reflected on a car in Washington September 16, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

How do we measure whether Americans are better off than in the past?

By Allison Schrager
January 16, 2014

Are you better off than you were twenty years ago? Probably not relative to very rich people today, but what about relative to you, or to someone your age and position twenty years ago? Income inequality has been called the defining issue of our time. Powerful leaders, from President Obama to Pope Francis, have cited it as evidence that the unfettered capitalism that has enriched the wealthy hasn’t been shared. Of course, there’s a difference between the gains in income being shared evenly, shared a little, or making everyone else poorer. In many ways the average American is much better off than he used to be; in other ways he’s worse off.  But even if we focus on what’s gotten better, we may still need to worry about the future.

Examine inequality’s causes before prescribing solutions

By Nick Gillespie
December 19, 2012

Fear and loathing of income inequality is both totally understandable and ultimately misplaced.

Government can reduce inequality, but chooses not to

By Timothy Noah
December 18, 2012

This essay is a response to the Reuters special report The Unequal State of America.

Everything you know about inequality is wrong

By Kevin Pollari
October 19, 2012

This is the fourth response to an excerpt from Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, published this week by Penguin Press. The first response can be read here, the second here, and the third here

Has rising inequality actually hurt anyone?

By Scott Winship
October 18, 2012

The incomes of the top 1 percent — and especially of the top one-half of the top 1 percent — have skyrocketed over the past 30 years. The latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show that the inflation-adjusted average income of the top 1 percent of households was $340,000 in 1979 but $1.4 million in 2007, quadrupling over less than three decades. Popular discussion of the top 1 percent tends to highlight how different, say, Mitt Romney and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are from typical Americans. In reality there is as great a disparity between Zuckerberg’s and Romney’s income as between Romney’s and yours. Disparities in income are so dramatic it is difficult to comprehend them.

The causes and consequences of plutocracy

By Ryan Avent
October 17, 2012

This is the second response to an excerpt from Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, published this week by Penguin Press. The first response can be read here.

Sympathy for the Plutocrat

By Nick Hanauer
October 16, 2012

This is a response to an excerpt from Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, published this week by Penguin Press.

The billionaires next door

By Chrystia Freeland
October 15, 2012

This is an excerpt from Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, published this week by Penguin Press.

First Gilded Age yielded to Progessives, can today’s?

By Richard White
October 9, 2012

 

C.K.G. Billings, a Gilded Age plutocrat, rented the grand ballroom of the celebrated restaurant Sherry's for an elaborate dinner on March 28, 1903. He had the floor covered with turf so that he and his 36 guests could sit on their horses, which had been taken up to the fourth-floor ballroom by elevator.

Mark Twain labeled the late 19th century the Gilded Age – its glittering surface masking the rot within. This term applies today for the same reasons: The rich get richer; most everyone else gets poorer. And the public thinks corruption rules.