Is It Inevitable?
A (reasonably) well-functioning democracy in the U S is under siege. If extreme and rising inequality has not caused that threat, it certainly makes it worse. Angus Deaton, in The Threat of Inequality, Scientific American, Sept. 2016
The gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” has always existed throughout the world. But a democratic government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Common ground and common good. So one question about inequality in the U S is: Is it inevitable, even in an American democracy?
It must be acknowledged that democracy in the U S today is not functioning well. The cause of this poor functioning of course will be debated. However, the belief that inequality makes it worse seems difficult to debate. Today it is apparent that inequality is a threat to American democracy.
Although the inequality in today’s U S democracy is documented and well known, doing something about it doesn’t seem to be a high priority in some parts of US politics. Or in some parts of the voting public. The “have nots” are likely to want to do something, but have little political power. The “haves’, do have political power, but may not notice or may not care. What are the causes of inequality in America? Can the United States expect American democracy to do something about inequality?
I don’t pretend to know the answers to those questions. Inequality has always existed in the United States. In fact, American democracy started out very poorly in terms of equality. Maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Maybe the question we should be asking is: Who cares — enough to do something about it?