Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Larry Summers on inequality

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has an opinion piece in The Financial Times entitled "We have to do better on inequality" in which he proposes a few ideas for dealing with inequality and concludes by saying that "Neither the politics of polarisation nor those of noblesse oblige will serve to protect the interests of the middle class in the post-industrial economy. We will have to find ways to do better." I'm not terribly persuaded by his arguments, but they are worth considering. I think his only idea that is indisputable is that we need to assure that higher education is affordable by all. His other two ideas were basically that we shouldn't reward the wealthy with special "concessions" as well as to charge market-based premiums where government provides implicit or explicit insurance, and that the estate tax should not be "eviscerated." I would note that he did not distinguish income inequality from wealth inequality.


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