The American carnage

22 June, 2017 at 13:38 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on The American carnage

President Trump, in his inaugural address and elsewhere, rightly says that over the decades since 1980 American household distributions of income and wealth became strikingly unequal. But if recent budget and legislative proposals from Trump and the House of Representatives come into effect, today’s distributional mess would become visibly worse.

I will sketch how the mess happened, then I will propose some ideas about how it might be cleaned up. I will show that even with lucky institutional changes and good policy, it would take several more decades to undo the “American carnage” that the president described …

trickleTrump and the Congress’s budget and legislative proposals could only work for his “struggling families” and “forgotten people” if they would generate strong trickle-down growth. Structural constraints on income distribution and wealth dynamics won’t let trickle-down happen. His slogan about “America First” is for the top one percent of income distribution – effectively a “capitalist” class – not for “workers” in the middle of the income distribution or the struggling, forgotten households further down.

I have outlined a feasible progressive alternative, which would generate broad-based progress. Progressive changes may not take hold. If not, and if Trump-style interventions materialize, the distributional mess and “American carnage” will only get worse.

Lance Taylor

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