Fresh Take on Growing Inequality

rippling flagThis piece by George Packer published in the New Yorker is a thoughtful reflection on the consequences of and solutions to America’s growing inequality. Packer writes:

But when the results are distributed as unequally as they are at this moment, when the gap between promise and reality grows so wide, when elites can fail repeatedly and never lose their perches of privilege while ordinary people can never work their way out of debt, equal opportunity becomes a dream. We measure inequality in numbers—quintiles, average and median incomes, percentages of national wealth, unemployment statistics, economic growth rates—but the damage it is doing to our national life today defies quantification. It is killing many Americans’ belief in the democratic promise—their faith that the game is fair, that everyone has a chance. That’s where things have unquestionably deteriorated over the past generation. The game seems rigged—and if it is, following the rules is for suckers.

Packer, the author of the new book The Unwinding: an Inner History of the New America, goes on to unapologetically point out that real solutions will require an all-fronts approach:

No iPhone app or biotech breakthrough can do anything about this disparity. It’s not a problem that the most brilliant start-up entrepreneurs are equipped to solve. It seems immune to engineering solutions, since it has coincided with a period of rapid technological change. It’s one of those big, structural problems that requires action on many fronts, from many institutions—from government at all levels, from business, from the media and universities. It needs a shift in laws, priorities, social relations, modes of production, and in the ways people think of their rights and obligations as citizens.”

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