Congratulations on joining my "Wealth and Poverty" course!

My thanks to you -- and to Kara, Heather, Kyle and others.


Looking for the full course? Scroll down to where it says “Wealth and Poverty class sessions” below and click the hyperlinks to each class.

I hope you find the course challenging and insightful. Be sure to collect your graduation certificate at the end!

This is for those of you who have stuck with “Wealth and Poverty” every week for the last fourteen. Congratulations! If you’ve been following along every Friday, you’re now graduating from my virtual university — my 14-week course on “Wealth and Poverty.”

Below, you’ll find your very own Certificate of Completion — which you can print out, fill in your name, frame, and hang in a conspicuous place.

Also a list of additional readings you might want to pursue in the future.

For those of you who haven’t yet made it through the course, you’ll find below the links to all the classes and topics we’ve covered, and all the slides.

For all of you, I hope the course has made you think harder about widening inequality — and perhaps want to take action to make your community, state, America or whatever nation you call home, a more just and humane place. The issues are complicated, and there is ample cause for alarm. But nothing is ever foreordained. We are not prisoners of fate. The explanations I’ve offered are not justifications for what’s occurred or the direction we seem to be heading in. We — you and I and others — have it in our power to change that direction. We must.

Thank you for joining me. And a big thanks to Kara Segal and Heather Lofthouse for helping me join you! And to Kyle Parker, Rudy Behrens, Jordan Alport, and Nick Blond for their terrific filming and editing.

Please consider a paid or gift subscription to help sustain this effort.

Wealth and Poverty class sessions

Selected readings and videos for each class can be found by clicking the hyperlinks below. Slides are available here.

Part I — The problem

Class 1: What’s happened to wealth and income in America over the last 40 years, and should we care?

Class 2: The investor’s view: What’s the role of capital markets in driving inequality?

Class 3: Globalization, technological change, and the jobs of the future: Is widening inequality inevitable?

Class 4: Widening inequalities of place: How does the sorting mechanism work?

Class 5: The altered balance of power between capital and labor: What’s been the consequence of increasing monopolization and decreasing unionization?

Class 6: The interaction of wealth and political power: What’s the vicious cycle? 

Part II — The struggle toward solutions

Class 7: Taxing and redistributing: Are these reversing the vicious cycle?

Class 8: Macroeconomic policy: How does fiscal and monetary policy aggravate or ameliorate inequality?

Class 9: Systemic racism: How does racism interact with class, and what can be done to reduce racial inequalities?

Class 10: Public assistance, work requirements, and the “deserving” poor: Why has public assistance to the poor shifted toward requiring work, and what are the consequences?

Class 11: Reducing health inequalities: How can our healthcare system become more equitable? 

Class 12: Reducing environmental inequities: What can be done to protect the more vulnerable from climate devastation? 

Class 13: Reducing educational inequities: How can we ensure that everyone has access to a good education?

Class 14: The future of inequality: Where do we (and you) go from here?


Slides from all classes are available for download by clicking here

Your certificate:

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Optional additional reading:

The history of the American political economy

It is impossible to fully understand the present system of American capitalism without also understanding how the system has evolved to its present point. Those of you wishing to understand the interplay between economics, politics, history, and dominant ideas about fairness may want to take a look at the following, which I’ve listed in chronological order.

  • John Jay, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers (1788)

  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835, 1840)

  • United States Supreme Court, Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

  • Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1890)

  • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)

  • Ida Tarbell, The History of the Standard Oil Company (1904)

  • Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life (1909)

  • Theodore Roosevelt, The New Nationalism (1910)

  • Louis Brandeis, Other People’s Money (1914)

  • Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means, The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932)

  • Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)

  • Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies (1945)

  • United States Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech (1963)

  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Speech at the Great March on Detroit (1963)

  • Ellis Hawley, The New Deal and the Problem of Monopoly (1966)

  • Robert Heilbroner, Between Capitalism and Socialism (1970)

  • Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (1967)

  • Eric Goldman, Rendezvous with Destiny: A History of Modern American Reform (1952)

  • John Kenneth Galbraith, American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power (1952)

  • John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, Houghton-Mifflin (1958)

  • John Rawls, Justice as Fairness (1985)

The current era of widening inequality, starting in the 1980s

  • Lina Kahn, "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," Yale Law Journal January, 2017;

  • Lawrence Bartels, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, Princeton University Press, 2008;

  • Rebecca Blank, Changing Inequality, University of California Press, 2011;

  • Edward Conrad, Unintended Consequences, Penguin, 2012;

  • Philip Dray, There is Power in a Union, Doubleday, 2010;

  • Robert Frank and Philip Cook, The Winner-Take-All Society, Penguin, 1995;

  • Clement Fatovic, America’s Founding and the Struggle Over Inequality, University of Kansas, 2016;

  • Robert Frank, Falling Behind, University of California Press, 2007;

  • Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, American Amnesia, Simon and Schuster, 2016

  • Jody Heymann, Forgotten Families, Oxford University Press, 2006;

  • Jacqueline Jones, American Work: Four Decades of Black and White Labor, Norton, 1998;

  • Robert Kaiser, So Damn Much Money, Knopf, 2009;

  • Branko Milanovic, The Haves and the Have Nots, Basic Books, 2012;

  • Katherine Newman, A Different Shade of Gray, New Press, 2003;

  • Benjamin Page and James Simmons, What Government Can Do: Dealing with Poverty and Inequality, University of Chicago Press, 2000;

  • Thomas Piketty, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, Harvard University Press, 2014;

  • Robert Reich, The System, Knopf, 2020;

  • Reich, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, Knopf, 2015;

  • Reich, Aftershock, Knopf, 2010;

  • Reich, Supercapitalism, Knopf, 2007;

  • Reich, The Work of Nations, Knopf, 1992;

  • Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Knopf, 1999;

  • David Shipler, The Working Poor, Knopf, 2004;

  • Joe Soss, Jacob Hacker, and Suzanne Mettler, eds., Remaking America: Democracy and Public Policy in an Age of Inequality, Russell Sage, 2007;

  • Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality, Norton, 2012;

  • Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level, Bloomsbury Press, 2009.


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