Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rich America, Poor America

 Niall Ferguson, Professor at Harvard University

There are “two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws…THE RICH AND THE POOR.”
The British novelist (and later prime minister) Benjamin Disraeli wrote those words about England in 1845. But they could equally well apply to the United States in 2012.
Since the advent of Occupy Wall Street, there has been a tendency to assume that only the left worries about inequality in America. The implication of OWS’s division of the country is that “we” are “the 99 percent,” and therefore conservatives must necessarily be apologists for “the 1 percent.”
Regrettably, the Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination have scarcely mentioned inequality in their recent debates. They prefer to accuse President Obama of waging “class warfare” whenever he brings it up. With Mitt Romney close to tying up the Republican nomination, this looks like being the battle line for this year’s election. Indeed, his Republican rivals have started doing Obama’s work for him, questioning the morality of the millions Romney made from private equity. As the focus turns to his ‘effective tax rate of 15 per cent, the question is: Does Romney have a credible answer to the charge that he personifies the division between rich and poor America?
Click here to see the whole article by Niall Ferguson

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