Separate but Unequal

Kevin Drum offers two excellent posts on income inequality, particularly as it relates to the financial sector.  What does he have to say about Wall Street as a vehicle for the creation and maintenance of distributed wealth and national prosperity?  As my cousin and his drunken friends once chanted at Natalie Portman at a Harvard party: OH-VER!  RAY-TED! 

What’s interesting, though, is how deeply we cling to our economic myths.  (I realized I’ve been abusing the “epistemology” tag recently, but only because I feel like so much of what we believe to be true is, in fact, highly dubious “received wisdom” that merits interrogation and revision in light of actual evidence, and in that sense I’m concerned with the processes by which these myths came to be promulgated and cherished in the first place.)  For instance: cheap food.  We celebrate, constantly, the low cost of being an American consumer; we have cheap food and cheap televisions and cheap cars and cheap gas.  It’s great!  Of course, as Grist points out, all that cheapness belies the external costs to the environment and public health, to say nothing of the exclusion of non-cheap goods like, say, housing.

I’ve got a killer headache at the moment — trying to cut back on the caffeine — and so will follow up with this tomorrow morning, in Part Two: Just Desserts?  (Because I’ve never met a lame pun I didn’t enjoy.)

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