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  • Originally published 07/10/2015

    To Each Age Its Inequality

    Ian Morris

    We can find deep insights on this issue by looking all the way back to the end of the last Ice Age, 15,000 years ago.

  • Originally published 04/30/2015

    How Gilded Ages End

    Paul Starr

    Protecting democracy from oligarchic dominance is, once again, a central imperative of American politics.

  • Originally published 12/07/2014

    The Real Reason Richer People Marry

    Andrew Cherlin

    Social class differences in marriage have been tied to the extent of income inequality among white Americans for at least 130 years.

  • Originally published 09/08/2014

    The Hidden History of Prosperity

    Robert Kuttner

    In the crisis of World War II, the nation made the political choices that created the robust egalitarian economy of the next 30 years. Can we respond to the climate crisis with similar policies to rebuild the middle class?

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Historian and economist Gar Alperovitz on the possibilities of the Great Recession

    A couple of weeks ago, a wonky data visualization became a viral sensation. Titled "Wealth Inequality in America," it provided a stark illustration of the distribution of wealth in this country. While many of us already know that this country's wealth is tilted in one direction, it's even more shockingly skewed than we thought. To date, the video has received more than 4.3 million views on YouTube.The data in the video wasn't news to Gar Alperovitz, an economist, historian and prolific writer on alternatives to capitalism. The 76-year-old University of Maryland professor wears many hats as a teacher, researcher, activist and filmmaker. His most well-known book, America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy, lays out the remarkable array of grassroots ownership strategies that local communities can pursue. Many of them are already familiar, such as food co-ops, and others, like credit unions, have become newly valued in the wake of Occupy Wall Street....

  • Originally published 01/06/2015

    Piketty goes cherry-picking for US Wealth Inequality

    Liberty and Power

    One of the main critiques I’ve made of Thomas Piketty’s data, starting on this blog last May and appearing in my newly released paper with Robert Murphy on the subject, concerns his Figure 10.5, purporting to show the trend of wealth inequality in the United States. As I pointed out at the time, this chart suffers from severe distortions starting in the 1970s that come about from Piketty’s unconventional decennial averaging techniques. The result is a downward distortion that gives the appearance of a clear bottom point in 1970, followed by a steady increase in inequality through the present day. Piketty attains this composite trend by essentially cherrypicking from different data sources until he produces the story he wants to depict, even as the trend he claims is far more ambiguous in the raw numbers.Though his citation practices are often opaque, I reconstructed and labeled the source match-up for Figure 10.5 in the following graph so you can see the cherrypicking at play:

  • Originally published 06/28/2014

    50 Years of Mischief: The Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act

    Liberty and Power

    July 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the most famous Civil Rights Act in U.S history. Passed after the longest debate in congressional history, the Civil Rights Act (CRA) promised to secure justice for all regardless of race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. As I wrote in Race and Liberty: The Essential Reader, the law “was understood to mean ‘colorblindness’ by nearly every observer at the time.” The plain meaning of the act might be summed up as: “Nondiscrimination. Period.”