Main Points of this Article
As thinkers we must have integrity and practice intellectual honesty, and to that end we must be data-driven in our conclusions.
Thus we must look at all of the effects that are correlated with widening income inequality. We must approach our analysis with keeping in mind that correlation does not automatically equal causation. And when there are direct correlations, we must analyze and look for conclusions, and determine how severe the negative or positive effects are, and weigh all aspects fairly. We must also remember we are human beings, and it is only the circumstances people are born into that has the greatest influence over a person’s life in this world at the current time.
In an article by economist Paul Krugman for the New York times, Krugman re-hashes the inequalities in African-American communities that were present in his time some decades ago; his time being when legal, U.S. law sanctioned and enforced, racist discrimination against African-Americans in all of America was ending. Krugman is also careful to point out that only U.S. law sanctioned discrimination was coming to an end, but not the de facto discrimination, which is when private “white” citizens and communities conspire as private citizens to create and perpetuate discrimination. Examples of this include red-lining (not selling houses to black people in white communities) and refusing to integrate schools even though they were not legally segregated. So, why would an Economist bring up such issues like racism in America’s past and present? Let’s just say Krugman is not beyond shoving hypocritical racist lies down the throats of those people Krugman views as hypocritical racist liars.
Krugman brings up that in the past, “whites” in general tried to blame poverty and crime levels in African-American communities on the fact that African-Americans were different racially and culturally than whites. As horrifying as this all is, Krugman has taken the opportunity to collect economic data on current income inequality levels that proves that old racist line of thinking were always false. “There were all kinds of theories, ranging from cultural hand-waving to claims that it was all because of welfare”(Krugman).
Krugman points to an Economist named William Julius Wilson who noted at the time that is was pure economic circumstances that lead, by which he means caused, to the disparity in behavior, and that race and culture were only correlations, “And the social collapse, while real, followed from that underlying cause”(Krugman).
Krugman takes the implications to the logical conclusion so that there would not be any confusion. Krugman posits this claim, which he later supports with data and a chart. “This story contained a clear prediction — namely, that if whites were to face a similar disappearance of opportunity, they would develop similar behavior patterns”(Krugman). Now in truth, the fact that more people are suffering as a result of income inequality is not something for any person to be happy about, and Krugman does almost seem to revel in the fact that whites are now suffering too. However, this would be a misinterpretation of what Krugman goes on to say. Krugman is not reveling in the economic suffering of others, Krugman is rejoicing and emphasizing as much as possible in the fact that racists of old and today are proven to have been incredibly and egregiously wrong in their racist conclusions that whites would somehow fair better than blacks given similar circumstances. Krugman hopes, though sadly probably in vain, that unconscionable racists can look at this data and finally conclude that their beliefs about differences in humans is caused by what is known as “race;” and therefore we should treat all peoples as equals, and together construct an economic society that seeks to in reality give all people equal opportunities to succeed, instead of the current “American Dream” lie that everyone can equally succeed depending solely on how much effort they decide to give.
Here is Krugman on current data on income inequality proving racists incorrect and grossly incompetent in their logic in the first place:
“And sure enough, with the hollowing out of the middle class, we saw (via Mark) what Kevin Williamson at National Review describes as ‘the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy’.’ Oh, and lots of swipes at food stamps, welfare programs, disability insurance (which conservatives insist is riddled with fraud, despite lots of evidence to the contrary.)”
Personally, I think there is zero data on the U.S. economy or any other major or real economy to support that. For example, to think social security should have never happened does not take in to account what would have been a better alternative, or how the problems social security solved would be solved otherwise, and there is certainly no evidence that the U.S. will never be able to devise some sort of solution for the economic problems that we are now facing as a result of having implemented social security during the Roosevelt administration. Not to mention that I have never read an analysis (not that I’ve scoured the research facilities looking for them) on exactly how many people over the course of how many years, that Social Security has benefitted, and how it would have made sense to take all of that benefit away from the millions of Americans that Social Security has thus far benefitted.
But I digress, and we return to Krugman’s points and data, which so much more succinctly debunks the belief that a more generous welfare state would make the U.S. worse off: “It’s surely worth noting that other advanced countries, with much more generous welfare states, aren’t showing anything like the kind of social collapse we’re seeing in the U.S. heartland.”
Though it would have been better if people in the U.S. had not been racist against African Americans in the past, and thus earlier identified the effects of wide income inequality (and therefore opportunity), inequality has on every person of every race, then now not only would white Americans not being suffering as much as a result of current income inequality trends, but African-Americans too would not have been suffering worse from the past until now had changes been made through efforts of social welfare and better income distribution.
Chart. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web. 2016. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000
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