Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Question for Conservatives

What do you make of the long-term trend (over the last thirty years or so) towards income stratification in the US?

Is it a bad thing? A good thing? If it's a bad thing in your view, do you think that government policy should attempt to do something about it, or is it just the result of natural market forces and therefore something we just have to live with? Any other thoughts?


  1. I'm hardly a prototypical Republican these days, but I'll take a cut at this one anyway. I think that the increase in income stratification is a very bad thing in the US, and further I think it is a major cause of the increase in the need for government intervention (in the form of spiraling commitments, debt, etc) which has gradually, over time, been tearing at the seams of American society, until now it is a full-blown crisis.

    I also believe that government policy should do a lot about this, though (not surprisingly), I don't favor an expansion of income redistribution efforts, as I believe those mostly paper over the root causes. Rather, I believe we could take lessons from our friends in Canada, in particular in having a capitalist economy that is well-regulated, since (IMHO) the lack of regulation - in the sense of good internal controls - rapidly exacerbates the trend toward wealth accumulation that eventually kills a consumer-based economy.

    Not that the Canadians have it all figured out, mind you. But it wouldn't be a bad start to re-establish some of the sane regulatory apparti (that the Canadians never jettisoned), it seems to me.

  2. A bad thing.

    I think the government should stop policies that increase inequality. Stop the immigration of low skilled workers and import more high skilled workers. End patents for software. Reduce length of copyrights.

    Inequality is most evident in medicine. Let nurses do more. Let pharmacists and physical therapists practice with only four years of college.

    Dean Baker has written a good book on government policies, especially trade and monetary policy, that benefit the wealthy. Available here:

  3. I'd stop importing an underclass, for one. No sense in swelling the numbers, then yelping that the numbers are bad. If you don't like something, then don't subsidize and engender it.

    And I'd turn to failed urban governance. The city of my birth, Detroit, would be a good place to start.

    Failed public policy, in both cases. Get untracked in both cases, and identify the failures, and accept them as failures. Recognition is the first step, but the most important. We haven't taken it yet. We seem to be going the other way, oftentimes. But I'd say irresponsible urban governance would be a good starting point for us.

    The class warfare arguments are just a distraction to the above, obviously, which is why those who support the above failures revert to them.

  4. Sorry, but 'Importing an underclass'? Seriously? Who's importing them, the govt? I don't think so. It's business. So you're anti-free market huh?

    While I might agree with the problem, your characterization of it is grossly incorrect to the point of offense.

  5. Feel free to be offended.

    We're importing an underclass. That's more than obvious.


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