The Great Debate

Self Help is no help for inequality

By Helaine Olen
March 25, 2014

For all the howls of rage from plutocrats like Tom Perkins and Ken Langone over possible tax rate increases, there has been relatively little public anger about the increasing wealth disparity in the United States — especially compared to the past.

from Lawrence Summers:

On inequality

By Lawrence Summers
February 17, 2014

Inequality has emerged as a major economic issue in the United States and beyond.

The minimum wage fight: From San Francisco to de Blasio’s New York

By Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich
February 11, 2014

In his State of the Union address last month, President Barack Obama urged cities and states to bypass Congress and enact their own minimum wage increases. “You don’t have to wait for Congress,” he stated.

The other inequality is structural

By David Dante Troutt
February 3, 2014

For the second year in a row, the issue of economic inequality was featured in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Even some Republican lawmakers have now dared to speak the “i-word.”

Obama’s small steps won’t fix inequality

By Helaine Olen
January 30, 2014

President Barack Obama is taking on the challenge of increasing the United States’ all but stagnant economic mobility.

Obama’s address: Borrowing from Bubba and the Gipper

By David Kusnet
January 29, 2014

Many presidents don’t have the problem of salvaging their second terms because the voters threw them out of office. Among those who win reelection, the successful communicators, such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, used many of the techniques that President Barack Obama deployed in his State of the Union Address last night. He is likely to repeat them often this year, which is one that will determine whether his administration is remembered as transformational or transitional.

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.

Heads, the rich win; tails, the poor lose

By Helaine Olen
December 23, 2013

The rich, to mangle F. Scott Fitzgerald slightly, they rationalize differently than you and me. Whether they succeed or fail, they’ve always got a pseudo-scientific excuse. If they do well, it’s because their habits are better than those of the rest of us peons. If they do badly, it was their upbringing, since wealthy parents too readily substitute lucre for love.

Steven Cohen: The Gilded Age revisited

By Patricia Beard
November 13, 2013

There he is in all his tarnished glory: Steven A. Cohen, arguably the most famous, and infamous, hedge fund manager in the United States. Maybe the world.

Why low social status can be bad for your health

By Maia Szalavitz
October 30, 2013

Inequality is at an all-time high in America. Since the 2008 crash, recent IRS figures show, the wealth of the top 1 percent grew 31 percent while the rest of American incomes grew by less than 1 percent. But although it might appear that income disparities affect only the poor and have primarily an economic impact, dozens of studies now link extreme inequality with poor health and shorter lives, across the entire socioeconomic spectrum.