Wednesday, May 28, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

A roiling debate on inequality

David Adesnik, Kieran Healy, and Kevin Drum are having an intellectual smackdown on the growth in income inequality in the United States over the past two decades and what to make of it. To recap:

Kevin Drum is arguing that the poor are not getting their fair share of the increasing economic pie:

It's one thing to say that the rich have most of the money — after all, that's the whole point of being rich. But it's quite another to say that as our country grows ever more prosperous, the rich should actually grow richer at a faster rate than anyone else.

David Adesnik responds to Drum's post by pointing out the following:

one can make a strong case that an unequal distribution is (a) the natural outcome of market interactions and (b) especially likely given the United States' recent transition from an industrial to a service-based economy.

Kieran Healy responds to Adesnik. His key point:

Look at the comparative cases —- other advanced capitalist democracies don’t have nearly as much wealth inequality as the U.S., and the U.S. itself for most of its history didn’t have such severe inequities either. So it’s hard to argue that the changes we’ve seen over the past 25 years are simply a matter of the Iron Laws of the Market.

David Adesnik responds here and here.

I'll be posting my thoughts on this debate tomorrow. In the meantime, read all of their posts.

UPDATE: More posts to read on the subject, from Dan Simon, Robert Tagorda, and -- a bit tangentially -- Matthew Yglesias.

posted by Dan on 05.28.03 at 03:30 PM