Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wealth, Acid, and Democracy

Nice conjunction of pieces in the Boston Globe and LA Times Sunday sections today. The Globe's magazine runs an excellent overview of a study showing that the US distribution of wealth today is back to pre-Depression inequality, due primarily to the abandonment of progressivity in our tax code. If you surf a little, you'll run into a Times Sunday Book Review piece on the Gilded Age, when the last acidic version of this taking from the rest of us to feed the greed of the Rich occurred, and its corrosive impact on our democracy, with events that parallel right now impressively. Well, don't actually surf. Use this and this. And when you're done, ponder two things. One, we did recover somewhat from the last assault on a democracy made possible by the spread of wealth across the society, but it really took the worst Depression and War of our history to make it happen. Is that what we'll have to hope for here? Two, what the hell is it in our cultural genes that makes these things repeat so closely in our history? Why do we so determinedly insist on ignoring the lessons of that history? And, will we learn this time???