Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Equality Debate

"And policymakers...try to break such links by spending to 'end child poverty' and by targeting health and education efforts on the neediest. Yet such attempts are doomed to disappoint...they conceive of each social ill in isolation rather than treating their root cause; it is not poverty as such, but inequality."

Book review of: Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, The Economist, February 28, 2009.

A bit of startling clarity admidst the chatter about task forces on the middle class, poverty measures, inclusion, exclusion, economic mobility (or the lack thereof), promise neighborhoods, downpayments on a progressive agenda, bipartisan welfare innovations, class divides,and busted budgets.

How do we invent a comprehensive approach for expanding economic opportunity that supports and relies upon personal and community responsibility? Big budgets don't necessarily lessen inequality. Yet an expanded level of public investment is certainly a requirement for lessening inequality.Unfortunately, our path to comprehensive investment is through incremental change -- big steps and small steps. And so on.

Can we lessen inequality during a time of deep economic recession? Will the recession level some of the differences or accentuate divide between the "haves" and the "have nots?" Who will benefit most from the stimulus/recovery and who will not?

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