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American wealth redistribution 1989-2016

  1. Old Nick
    May 22, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Piketty has warned us. The post WW-II meritocracy was an anomaly. We are going back to normal. Capital gains rule.

  2. May 22, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Multibillionaire Nick Hanauer gives a macroeconomic lesson how it’s even in wealthy people’s self-interest to have far greater income equality than currently. Myopic, unwise economic perspectives are common among rich folks, too.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th_F_dTGqQc

  3. Helen Sakho
    May 23, 2019 at 12:30 am

    One fails to see how the top 1% would benefit from greater income equality. We are “going back to normal” only at a rate of inequality that the devil himself could not have foreseen since the last war.

  4. Ken Zimmerman
    June 4, 2019 at 10:56 am

    For most of the last 5,000 years societies have been organized around the rule of monarchs and aristocracies. A radical change from the generally egalitarian societies of our hunter-gatherer ancestors who determined the shape of Sapiens’ society for over 200,000 years. Anthropologists and archaeologists believe monarchy was invented at about the time of Sapiens’ “Agricultural Revolution” during what’s called the Neolithic era which began round 10,000 BCE in the ancient Near East. This is before the invention of writing which came about 4000-6000 years later. Humans began to raise crops and livestock and live in towns and cities rather than roaming continually as hunter-gatherers. Some scholars argue that the Neolithic societies of Europe were matriarchal, and that patriarchy only arose as communities became wealthier. Damn men steal everything. The Neolithic burial mounds and tombs that can be found throughout Europe indicate that someone of authority was able to command their construction. The “Epic of Gilgamesh,” an ancient Sumerian story from around 2750 BCE shows that early monarchs were not always just. Gilgamesh, who is part man and part god, was so tyrannical to his people that they begged the gods for help. There’s a lot of debate about how monarchies were created. Some believe it was simply the strongest forcing others to obey them. Others believe as humans divided up the new wealth (land, crops, and animals) from agriculture, some came out better than others. Sometimes by accident; sometimes due to physical or intellectual advantages; sometimes through theft and murder. After all, this was the first time in Sapiens’ history that the species experienced a surplus of the necessities for life. These differences were spun into classes. The classes were stratified and then hardened into unchangeable differences called human nature. The same cultural inventions that made monarchy and the class hierarchy as part of “human nature” where turned then to create dozens of forms of meritocracy, varying by region and period. Merit’s definition then was the source of who should be, would be smarter, richer, better nourished, and ultimately more powerful in a society.

    While monarchies flourished in many of the societies of the Near East and Egypt, Greece developed the democratic form of government in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The city-states of Greece were small, independent political entities, which made voting and democracy logistically simple. The Roman Republic, a larger, much more militarily powerful entity, sought to base its style of government on that of the Greeks, but the lure of power became too much for Roman military leaders. Romans historically were opposed to the idea of monarchy, so much so that the military leader Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE for his ambition. After Caesar’s death, however, his heir Octavian took power and became the first Roman emperor.

    The Roman Empire was, for several centuries, the main power in Western Europe. It kept the peace and enforced Roman law among people of many different ethnicities. The fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE left a vacuum of power in Western Europe, and many “barbarian” tribes fought among themselves. Strong military leaders eventually arose who could promise people a measure of security. To legitimize their authority, these leaders had themselves crowned king by the Christian clergy, who represented divine authority. Charlemagne, the king of the Franks, is credited with beginning Europe’s recovery from the medieval era. Monarchy was the primary form of government in Europe throughout the Middle Ages; democracy did not return on a large scale until the Revolutionary Era in the 18th century.

    The monarchs of medieval Europe were often talented military leaders, but they did not have absolute authority over their countries. They lacked an extensive bureaucracy to carry out their will and frequently had to contend with a powerful church and nobility. The French King Louis XIV nicknamed “The Sun King,” who ruled from 1643 to 1715, achieved a new form of government called absolute monarchy. He often said, “The state is me,” which meant that no one had the power to veto his authority. Perhaps as a reaction to such absolutism, a series of democratic revolutions, such as the American and French, swept the world in the late 18th century signaling the death knoll of absolute monarchy and an end to monarchy generally. Monarchies declined more slowly in the rest of the world in the 17th 18th, and 19th centuries. Most were gone, in decline, or controlled by some form of democratic government by the end of World War II.

    Monarchy is a hierarchy of classes, whether the classes be called monarchs, aristocrats, and plebeians, or generals, officers, and soldiers, or CEOs, professionals, and laborers. Classes different in political power, in status, and of course in wealth. For at least the last 5,000 years the lines between and the duties and privileges of classes have been strictly and strongly drawn and enforced. The intent of democracy was to make each member of society equal in terms of political power, status, and wealth. But the opposite of democracy still exists and attempts to replace democracy regularly, including the equal power, status, and wealth at the heart of democracy. According to Hammurabi’s code written about 2000 BCE, people are divided into two genders and three classes: superior people, commoners and slaves. Members of each gender and class have different values. The life of a female commoner is worth thirty silver shekels and that of a slave-woman twenty silver shekels, whereas the eye of a male commoner is worth sixty silver shekels. The code also establishes a strict hierarchy within families, according to which children are not independent persons, but rather the property of their parents. Hence, if one superior man kills the daughter of another superior man, the killer’s daughter is executed in punishment. To us it may seem strange that the killer remains unharmed whereas his innocent daughter is killed, but to Hammurabi and the Babylonians this seemed perfectly just. Hammurabi’s Code was based on the principle that if the king’s subjects all accepted their positions in the hierarchy and acted accordingly, the empire’s million inhabitants would be able to cooperate effectively. Their society could then produce enough food for its members, distribute it efficiently, protect itself against its enemies, and expand its territory to acquire more wealth and better security. We still pursue these goals today; the battle today is whether democracy or some form of monarchy has the best chance to deliver them.

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