The Great Debate

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.

What exactly do we mean by ‘inequality’?

September 11, 2012

What do we mean by “inequality,” and why exactly is it bad for American democracy? Are we discussing inequality of wages within a given firm or industry? Or inequality in household income — i.e., the difference between the poor and the middle class, or between the rich and everyone else? What about political inequality — is it a cause or an effect of economic inequality?

The retail price of America’s income inequality

By Caitlin Kelly
January 20, 2012

Retail is considered one of the bright spots in the American economy, one of only six job categories projected to grow nationally through 2018. But a survey released this week makes clear that many of these are jobs in name only, offering poverty-level wages, highly restricted access to benefits, part-time work when full-time is desired, and a workforce so cowed that it routinely accepts working conditions that make work-life balance, or the chance to upgrade skills and move into better-paid work elsewhere, all but impossible.

Mr. 1 Percent versus Mr. 1 Percent

By David Callahan
January 20, 2012

Listening to a newly populist President Obama or to Mitt Romney, who touts his CEO past at every turn, it is tempting to imagine a 2012 election that unfolds as textbooks imagine, with Republicans speaking for business and Democrats standing up for the little guy. Don’t be fooled. A more accurate reading of the contest features two elite candidates who represent different wings of the 1 Percent – a group increasingly divided over economics and the role of government.

A shrinking middle class means a shrinking economy

By Alan Krueger
January 13, 2012

The following is an excerpt from a speech Alan Krueger, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, gave at the Center for American Progress on Thursday. The full text is available here.

from David Rohde:

In Milwaukee, an evaporating middle class

By David Rohde
December 15, 2011

MILWAUKEE -- As Washington and Madison fiddle, this city’s middle class is in slow free fall.

The politics of America’s wealth chasm

By David Callahan
October 14, 2011

By David Callahan
The opinions expressed are his own.

Economic inequality – the meta concern of the Wall Street protesters – is not an issue that typically gets much traction in American politics. Anger at the Haves tends to surge when times are tough, only to melt away when former Have Nots are again flush enough to go back to the mall.