September 17, 2010 Leave a comment
Tim Noah finishes up his great series on inequality with a nice summary:
Here is a back-of-the-envelope calculation, an admittedly crude composite of my discussions with and reading of the various economists and political scientists cited thus far:
- Race and gender are responsible for none of it, and single parenthood is responsible for virtually none of it.
- Immigration is responsible for 5 percent.
- The imagined uniqueness of computers as a transformative technology is responsible for none of it.
- Tax policy is responsible for 5 percent.
- The decline of labor is responsible for 20 percent.
- Trade is responsible for 10 percent.
- Wall Street and corporate boards’ pampering of the Stinking Rich is responsible for 30 percent.
- Various failures in our education system are responsible for 30 percent. [emphasis mine]
And you know what? This is no accident. There’s no inevitably to the sad indictment of these last two causes. This is what, we as a society have chosen through our policy choices. Noah:
Most of these factors reflect at least in part things the federal government did or failed to do. Immigration is regulated, at least in theory, by the federal government. Tax policy is determined by the federal government. The decline of labor is in large part the doing of the federal government. Trade levels are regulated by the federal government. Government rules concerning finance and executive compensation help determine the quantity of cash that the Stinking Rich take home. Education is affected by government at the local, state, and (increasingly) federal levels. In a broad sense, then, we all created the Great Divergence, because in a democracy, the government is us.
Shame on us.