This week brings us to one of the core problems of widening inequality — the inevitability that concentrated income and wealth at the top comes with political power. Wealth isn’t a zero-sum game in which the rich get richer only if others become poorer, but political power is zero-sum. This creates a vicious cycle by which the super-rich get changes in laws and rules that define the market, which make them even richer and more powerful.
Here’s the class (just double-click the red play button):
The questions I’ll be addressing this week: How does economic power translate into political power? How does political power generate more economic power? How much of the phenomenon of widening inequality is due to this vicious cycle? Also: What’s the difference between “pre-distribution” and “redistribution” of income and wealth? In what ways are income and wealth now pre-distributed upward?
Recommended readings (click on the link):
Jane Mayer, “The Big Money Behind the Big Lie,” The New Yorker, August 2, 2021
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Perspectives on Politics, American Political Science Association, September 2014
Asher Schechter, “Why Argue With the Government When You Can Buy the Government?”: Q&A with Gary Reback, July 2016
Steven M. Teles, “The Scourge of Upward Redistribution,” National Affairs, Fall 2015
If you’ve missed any of these classes, no worries. Here are the links for all that I’ve already posted: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, and Class 5. There will be 14 in all.
“Wealth isn’t a zero-sum game in which the rich get richer only if others become poorer, but political power is zero-sum.”
It may not be zero-sum, BUT the fact is that the parts of the United States with the weakest economies and poorest people are those with Republican governance, something that’s NOT an unintended consequence of poor economic policy but DELIBERATE, because surrounding themselves with poor and lower-middle class masses, whose limited incomes help keep a lid on the prices of basic goods and services, increases the buying power of the rich, as the cost of those goods and services will rise only as high as the majority of those who need and want them are willing and able to pay.
Thank you for leaving these classes up, Professor.