Billionaires trying to fix US poverty are the sign of a failed system


Can we rely on corporate leaders to fix poverty?

Of all the solutions to poverty that other developed countries have already implemented, Alston points out one particularly American failure: Insufficient public services and structural support for lower income people. Describing the American view of welfare services, Alston notes that in the US society “immense faith is placed in the goodwill and altruism of the corporate beneficiaries, while with welfare reform the opposite assumptions apply. The poor are inherently lazy, dishonest, and care only about their own interests.” As he notes in his report, the tax reform and the policies of the Trump administration are only likely to expand that divide.

The complete article

Annalisa Merelli – Quartz

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The 1% Is Overrepresented in the Ivy League


If your parents count themselves among the top 1%, you’re 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than your peers from families in the bottom 20% of the U.S.’ income distribution.

Why the focus on Ivy League universities? Of course, the pool of top institutions of higher education extends far beyond that group. But in mobility terms, say the authors, you’re more likely to move from the bottom quintile into the top 1% if you attend elite colleges, including those that comprise the Ivy League. In other words, elite colleges can confer mobility in powerful ways.

The complete article

Jack Gao — Institute for New Economic Thinking

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Why Are Economists Giving Inequality the Cold Shoulder?

I’ve long questioned the value of economics as a profession. Most economists focus on the quantitative rather than the lived. They are also consistently unable to explain or predict economic movements. I think the former may lead to the latter. Indeed, in this piece in the Boston Review, the author examines professional economists’ opposition to Thomas Piketty’s focus on inequality:

But perhaps the greatest rebuke of Piketty to be found among academic economics is not contained in any of these overt or veiled attacks on his scholarship and interpretation, but rather in the deafening silence that greets it, as well as inequality in general, in broad swathes of the field—even to this day. You can search through the websites of several leading economics departments or the official lists of working papers curated by federal agencies and not come across a single publication that has any obvious or even secondary bearing on the themes raised by Capital in the Twenty-First Century, even in order to oppose them. It is as though the central facts, controversies, and policy proposals that have consumed our public debate about the economy for three years are of little-to-no importance to the people who are paid and tenured to conduct a lifetime’s research into how the economy works.

Read the full article at The Boston Review

Marshall Steinbaum — Boston Review

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Should some countries cease to exist?


This needull discusses a tough question. What is more important – diversity in culture or reduction in inequality?

Destroying the variety of human traditions is not costless, and I can see that one might believe that maintaining variety of languages and cultures is not less important that maintaining variety of the flora and fauna in the world, but I wonder who needs to bear the cost of that. Should people in Mali be forced to live in Mali because somebody in London thinks that some variety of human existence would be lost if they all came to England? I am not wholly insensitive to this argument, but I think that it would be more honest to say openly that the cost of maintaining this “worldwide heritage” is borne not by those who defend it in theory but by those in Mali who are not allowed to move out.

The complete article

Branko Milanovic — globalinequality

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India has a very strong legacy of extreme inequality

A Thomas Piketty interview.

“And what’s unique about India is that it used to publish this data until 2000. There was this All India Income Tax Statistics Report and this has been interrupted. For the past 15 years during this period of very high growth in India, nobody knows how income tax operates, how have top income groups in India done as compared to GDP growth.

When we look at the consumption of average Indians or bottom 50% Indians, we don’t see the kind of GDP growth rates that we have in GDP statistics. The possibility, of course, is that a lot of the growth has gone to top income groups. Is this true? Has the income tax system been able to make this group contribute to the tax burden in proportion to the increase in their income, nobody knows.”

The full interview