Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inequality is the defining issue of our time — President Obama

Obama identified the need for a level economic playing field as "the defining issue of our time" in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, according to early excerpts of his speech made available to the press.
"No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important," the president said. "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." [emphasis added]
Read it at The Huffington Post
State Of The Union Address 2012: Obama Calls Income Inequality 'The Defining Issue Of Our Time'
by  Alexander Eichler

See also:

The Atlantic
Map: U.S. Ranks Near Bottom on Income Inequality
The U.S., in purple with a Gini coefficient of 0.450, ranks near the extreme end of the inequality scale. Looking for the other countries marked in purple gives you a quick sense of countries with comparable income inequality, and it's an unflattering list: Cameroon, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, Ecuador.


Matt Franko said...

So the answer is "tax the rich"?

Even "Trickle Down" is better than increased taxes at this point.


Tom Hickey said...

Matt, I think that the political debate for some time to come is going to be about inequality and regaining the American dream. This is just the beginning, and it is going to be an unfolding dialectic.

The SOTU speech was a political speech is meant to define the issues for the presidential campaign. Obama apparently caught the mood of the country since even a majority of self-identified Republicans agreed with much of his economic presentation.

While we know that this can't work, these kinds of policy prescriptions — more progressive taxation and trade protectionism — are what the public wants to hear now from candidates for office, based on their erroneous understanding of economics. I doubt the public is in any mood to hear any wonky solutions that depart from the common sense view of conventional wisdom.

Not an encouraging prospect. There is probably no possibility of correcting this until 2016, and maybe not until 2020. This dynamic has not yet played itself out. The previous crisis was not enough to do, and Randy seems to be projecting that it will take another deeper one to effect change.

Peter said...

The American dream is slowly becoming the American nightmare. And the same applies to Canada. I often walk through Lawrence Park, one of the richest neighbourhoods in Canada. I know that I will never be able to afford a dwelling in such a location. The way that our economy is structured today is ridiculously unfair to young people. Colleges and universities are expensive, we have no other option but to pile up enormous amounts of debt, there is not enough jobs, etc. It is not easy to get motivated to achieve something big in life...