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Friday, June 30, 2017

Dream Hoarders

Richard Reeves has a new book from Brookings titled Dream Hoarders
It’s now conventional wisdom to focus on the excesses of the top 1% — especially the top 0.01% — and how the ultra-rich are hoarding income and wealth while incomes for most other Americans are stagnant. But the more important, and widening, gap in American society is between the upper middle class and everyone else.
Reeves defines the upper middle class as those whose incomes are in the top 20 percent of American society. Income isn’t the only way to measure a society, but in a market economy it is crucial because access to money generally determines who gets the best quality education, housing, health care, and other necessary goods and services.


Ross Douthat compare the Dream Horders to the wizards of the Harry Potter books:
It is Muggles who keep turning to parties of the far left and farther right, Muggles who drift into radicalism and set off bombs. Mass migration, rising nationalism, Islamic terrorism, rural despair — many disruptive forces in our era flow from global Muggledom’s refusal to just be a tame and subsidized surplus population, culled for its best and brightest, living only for the hope that occasionally a gifted son or daughter might be lifted up.

In the Potterverse, the meritocracy of magic allows the chosen to withdraw, to disappear behind a curtain into their academic world, leaving Muggledom to its own devices.
In our universe, though, the meritocracy of talent expects the chosen to actually go out and try to rule. On the evidence we have, they are not particularly good at it. And how to lead wisely in a society where most people did not go to Hogwarts is a lesson that J. K. Rowling’s lovely, lively, but ultimately childish novels do not teach.