Paul Krugman's Musings Upon Reading Kevin Phillip's Wealth and Democracy
June 14, 2002 1:46 AM   Subscribe

Plutocracy and Politics. Paul Krugman's musings upon reading Kevin Phillip's Wealth and Democracy: How Great Fortunes and Government Created America's Aristocracy, reviewed here by Bruce Reed of the Washington Monthly. Also, Three Questions For Kevin Phillips.
posted by y2karl (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If history is any indicator then Phillips is correct. The social contract of trust cannot be continously be broken by the very wealthy without catastrophic results.

No matter what anyone says, one person can never produce work worth the obscene amounts CEOs get.

Imagine one "businessman" saying the worth of his work is the equivalent of 1000 doctor's salaries. No way.

And on the shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves argument, anyone who believes that I've got a bridge I'd like to sell them. In Brooklyn.
posted by nofundy at 6:26 AM on June 14, 2002

Staggering statistics. And this:

For many years there was a concerted effort by think tanks, politicians and intellectuals to deny that inequality was increasing in this country. Glenn Hubbard ... [made] a ludicrously rigged study purporting to show that income distribution doesn't matter because there is huge "income mobility" - that is, that this decade's poor are likely to be next decade's rich and vice versa.

Does anyone know the study in question? Surely no one could ever seriously have argued that "this decade's poor are likely to be next decade's rich and vice versa", unless their next words were "because the rich will be the first up against the wall when the Revolution comes".
posted by rory at 6:26 AM on June 14, 2002

i think you need the estate tax to pay for our nation's growing militarization. it is your patriotic duty!

unless of course you ramp up deficit spending, i.e. promises you can't keep, but your children may or may not be able to to so. placing the burden on future generations obviously makes sense because they can't vote on it. and what's money anyways?
posted by kliuless at 8:47 AM on June 14, 2002

If you're an affluent CEO, you're likely to believe that there is no bursting point to your endless lost weekend. And this ignorance of the poor and the impoverished, the remarkable escalation of a problem largely hidden in alleyways, parks and pockets in the Appalachian mountains, is almost certain to come back and bite us on the ass. The blackout of a substantial issue can just as readily be made for others pertaining to the environment, civil liberties and the remarkable ways in which we've been capitulating our privacy.

One of the reasons the problems of the poor simply has not been dwelled upon is because it undermines our capitalist system. Unless you put out a savagely sick video designed for the amusement of rodents, the homeless cannot be in any way entertaining. Unlike the allure of Britney Spears or the sexually cartoonish Pamela Anderson, the poor are not beautiful or fuckable, and can not even be made beautiful in an artificial sense. They are a hard but necessary reality to dwell upon. It is absolutely safe to say that you simply cannot create chic with the homeless.

Since there is nothing profitable or entertaining in the problem of disparity, it is allowed to take a back seat in press coverage, everyday conversation and actual contemplation within the mind. How little the common man realizes that he's setting up his children for the blackest of wakeup calls.
posted by ed at 10:30 AM on June 14, 2002

the poor are not beautiful or fuckable...

Don't I know it!
posted by y2karl at 10:37 AM on June 14, 2002

Imagine one "businessman" saying the worth of his work is the equivalent of 1000 doctor's salaries. No way.

Any work is worth exactly what you can get paid for it.
posted by kindall at 11:00 AM on June 14, 2002

By one measure, certainly, kindall. However, it would be foolish to deny that there are others which some may wish to apply.
posted by rushmc at 12:56 PM on June 14, 2002

Bill Moyers recently interviewed Phillips on NOW, here's the transcript.
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on June 14, 2002

actually kindell, the problem of high CEO salaries is a classic case of market failure. the people making the decisions about compensation (the corporate officers) have a very different set of interests than the shareholders that they are supposed to be working for. because the shareholders are dispersed and disorganized they are not able to effectively protect their interests in not be ripped off by the officers. so shareholders get shafted while corporate execs get rich.

make no mistake, if the market were truly driving CEO salaries, they would be far lower than they are now. just think about it. do you really want to argue that a CEO's services have increased in value by 4300 percent since the 1980s?
posted by boltman at 5:32 PM on June 14, 2002

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