[Marxism] We are more unequal than you think

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 10 06:41:48 MST 2012


http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/feb/23/were-more-unequal-you-think/

We’re More Unequal Than You Think
February 23, 2012
by Andrew Hacker

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
Bloomsbury, 331 pp., $28.00; $18.00 (paper) 


The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good
by Robert H. Frank
Princeton University Press, 240 pp., $26.95 


The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics
by Thomas Byrne Edsall
Doubleday, 272 pp., $24.95

Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others
by James Gilligan
Polity, 229 pp., $19.95

Imagine a giant vacuum cleaner looming over America’s economy, drawing 
dollars from its bottom to its upper tiers. Using US Census reports, I 
estimate that since 1985, the lower 60 percent of households have lost 
$4 trillion, most of which has ascended to the top 5 percent, including 
a growing tier now taking in $1 million or more each year.1 Some of our 
founders foresaw this happening. “Society naturally divides itself,” 
Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, “into the very few and the 
many.” His coauthor, James Madison, identified the cause. “Unequal 
faculties of acquiring property,” he said, inhere in every human 
grouping. If affluence results from inner aptitudes, it might seem 
futile to try reining in the rich.

All four of the books under review reject Hamilton and Madison’s 
premises. All are informative, original, and offer unusual insights. 
None accepts that social divisions are inevitable or natural, and all 
make coherent arguments in favor of less inequality, supported by 
persuasive statistics.

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