Inequality Breads Extremism

Simon Wren-LewisSimon Wren-Lewis at Mainly Macro tries to answer the question, What Is Wrong With the USA? He teaches at Oxford, so he sees things from an English point of view. And he’s seen that in the United Kingdom, the conservative press have pushed their far right to act in ways that are similar to the Tea Party here (although the issues are different). He suggests that most of the problems come from the right wing echo chamber.

What I think he misses is that this is not a problem with the far right in the United States. It is a problem with the entire right. I’ve written far too many articles over the last two years that are very much like, Moderate Republicans Really Are Extreme. There really is no distinction in ideology. They are all hardcore anti-choice, anti-entitlement, pro-tax-cut… I could go on for thousands of words, but I doubt there is a reason because you probably could too. The only distinction in the Republican Party is whether such policies need to be enacted today or whether they can wait a year or two.

But Wren-Lewis provided a graph that shows all anyone should need to see about what’s wrong here and there:

One Percent Share of Income

US and UK? Pretty bad. Italy and France? Pretty good. Looking at the graph you have to ask: have the rich done something really great the last three decades to justify getting so much more of the nation’s income? That’s a rhetorical question; of course they haven’t. These huge increases are the result of government policy. England had Thatcher. America had Reagan. And Italy and France did not.

Wren-Lewis notes that bad economic times and high levels of inequality bread angry right wing movements. And that’s what we are seeing now. Sure, the Tea Party are a bunch of racists, and let’s be honest, so are most of the other Republicans. But why are they so angry? Things are not going well. And who better to blame than the poor with darker skin.

This is why Democrats need to push actual liberal policy. We need things that will make the country better. As it is, with the 25 year New Democratic “we’re not quite as bad as the Republicans” approach to governance, we have at best slowed the growth of bad conservative policy. The people should get a clear choice. When another 2008 comes around, it is time for the Democrats to be bold. Because that is what the people will have voted for. If they want Republicans-Lite, they can look elsewhere. A vote for Obama was not a vote to end Entitlements as we know them.

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