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inequality

Economics

Inequality Is A Non-Issue (Part 2)

Despite failing to prove his thesis that capitalism generates inequality (addressed in Part 1), the author closes by outlining the policy proposals he’d enact to reduce inequality.  This proposal includes: “…a large cash grant to all citizens when they reach the age of majority, around the benchmark cost of taking a bachelor’s degree at private university in the United States. This grant would be repaid into the national treasury at death.” And: “…an annual wealth tax of two percent on a person’s net worth above a threshold of $80,000.” The first part of his proposal needs some unpacking.  He essentially says that every person, on their 18th birthday, should be given a grant of $48,000.  Upon death, every individual would pay back that grant.   Besides the complete arbitrariness of the proposal, there is no effort to look for possible negatives that would come from its implementation.  First, there is no way of knowing what an 18 year old would do if handed a free $48,000.  While some will… Keep Reading

Economics

Inequality Is A Non-Issue (Part 1)

A large number of people are convinced that rising inequality between the rich and the poor is the primary driver of the ills that plague our society.  Both the #Occupy movement that arose after the housing bubble burst, and the fervent support for the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, are proof of this. This opinion is backed by supposed logic and apparent economic law that can be articulated in ways that are quite convincing.  I recently came across an article that attempts to prove the thesis that capitalism generates inequality, and which offers a policy proposal (addressed in Part 2) that will alleviate it.  The author does so in a way that will be perceived as fair, reasoned, and possibly even correct to the lay reader.  Such an article must be refuted. The author begins: “At least nominally, capitalism embodies and sustains an Enlightenment agenda of freedom and equality. Typically there is freedom to trade and equality under the law, meaning that most adults – rich or poor – are formally… Keep Reading

Culture/Philosophy

Can The “Very Liberal” Celebrate Independence Day?

The week of Independence Day, Gersh Kuntzman of the Daily News, called for Major League baseball to permanently ban the playing of “God Bless America.” While conceding some of its virtues, Kuntzman laments that the classic jingle “embodies” some of “our worst things,” vices like “self-righteousness, forced piety,” and “earnest self-reverence.” Kuntzman approvingly alludes to a 2013 poll conducted by the author of a book on “God Bless America.” The poll found that 61% or so of those asked share Kuntzman’s judgment that the song should go the way of the dinosaur.  The real story here, though, is to be found in how those numbers break down: While only 20.5% of those who wish to see the song banned from major league baseball self-describe as “very conservative,” a whopping 84% who want the same regard themselves as “very liberal.” The “very liberal” stand side-by-side with “foreigners,” like Kuntzman’s British friend, who find “the self-righteousness” and “patriotism” of the song “exactly what [to] expect from Americans.” This is telling. Setting… Keep Reading

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