Economic inequality has been much in the press lately. ...
But, generally, the discussion about inequality has been missing half of the puzzle.
On the one hand, it’s safe to say that over recent decades, the very rich have gotten very much richer. ...
On the other hand, for most American and above all the poor, incomes have stagnated in inflation-adjusted terms—and for significant numbers, actually fallen. The influx of poor, unskilled immigrants from abroad has certainly swelled the number of people at the bottom of society and exacerbated competition for jobs and housing among them.
The rise of the rich is felt in their growing political power. It’s notable that the rich have learned how to use the poor as symbols to rationalize whatever they want to get away with.
An example well-worth savoring: the 2003 Harvard lecture, The American Dream of Homeownership, by Angelo Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial, announcing that he would lend $600 billion to minority and lower income borrowers, in return for which he wanted mortgage regulators to lift those racially discriminatory demands for down payments and documents—thus helping precipitate the Minority Mortgage Meltdown.
Most public discussions of inequality have been of limited utility because the fundamental measure is not income or wealth, but long-term standard of living. And that has two halves: how much you can spend and how much whatever you spend it on costs.
Few commentators have thought systematically about the second half of the equation—the cost of living—even though we all obsess over it in our own lives. ...
In this article, I will focus on the impact of the growing inequality at the top and bottom of society on the cost of middle class life.
Let’s look at three major cost components of middle class life: medical care, housing, and education.
What is the impact of increasing economic inequality on the cost of medicine? Are the ultrarich rapaciously bidding up the price of, say, chemotherapy the same way they have bid up the price of Gustav Klimt paintings?
September 28, 2010
Excerpts from my new VDARE.com column:
Read the whole thing here.