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The post below this one looks at the latest David Brooks column…

… in the New York Times. Across the page from Brooks, Paul Krugman takes up the same theme: Without a willingness to behave in a few non-self-serving ways, citizens of capitalist economies are going to bring their affluent democratic cultures crashing down around them. Krugman notes that between 1979 and 2005

the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. … In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.

The claim that “the rich have a right to keep their money… misses the point that all of us live in and benefit from being part of a larger society. … [The wealthy presumably] have as much of a stake as everyone else in the nation’s future…”

(Krugman alludes to this Elizabeth Warren video.)

As to whether the wealthy feel as though they’ve got much stake in the nation’s future… Well, read Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elites… or The End of Equality by Mickey Kaus. It’s definitely not a slam dunk. Here’s Lasch:

To an alarming extent the privileged classes – by an expansive definition, the top 20 percent – have made themselves independent not only of crumbling industrial cities but of public services in general. They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies by enrolling in company-supported plans, and hire private security guards…. In effect, they have removed themselves from the common life. It is not just that they see no point in paying for public services they no longer use. Many of them have ceased to think of themselves as Americans in any important sense, implicated in America’s destiny for better or worse. Their ties to an international culture of work and leisure – of business entertainment, information, and ‘information retrieval’ – make many of them deeply indifferent to the prospect of American national decline.

Margaret Soltan, September 23, 2011 12:59PM
Posted in: democracy

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