Posted on | January 20, 2014 | 44 Comments
The reality of rising American inequality is stark. Since the late 1970s real wages for the bottom half of the work force have stagnated or fallen, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have nearly quadrupled (and the incomes of the top 0.1 percent have risen even more). While we can and should have a serious debate about what to do about this situation, the simple fact — American capitalism as currently constituted is undermining the foundations of middle-class society — shouldn’t be up for argument.
Why the generalization, Dr. Krugman?
Why do you pin the blame so vaguely on “American capitalism,” when clearly the cause of economic inequality is you?
As the Smartest Economist in the Whole World™ it was your job to fix this problem. Obviously you’ve been goofing off — phoning it in, going through the motions — and here you are again, recycling the same arguments you’ve been making for decades.
So we’re coming to take it back, Dr. Krugman. The middle class will be showing up to collect The People’s Refund. That three-bedroom $1.7-million Riverside Drive apartment you bought in 2009? It’s got enough square footage to house a dozen struggling grad students from Columbia and NYU. They’ll be moving in next week.
What’s your salary at Princeton University, professor? Last time I checked, the average Princeton professor made $190,000 a year and you’re clearly above average, so let’s say $250,000. We’re going to let you keep $60,000 of that — “incomes of the top 1 percent have nearly quadrupled” — and redistribute the other $190,000 to the janitorial staff at Princeton, because . . . fairness.
Now, how to redistribute your New York Times income? If they’re paying you $300,000 a year (which is Tom Friedman’s reported salary, and certainly they wouldn’t pay a Nobel Prize winner less) then I figure we’ll cut you back to $75,000, re-distributing $225,000 in $25,000 increments to nine struggling young writers to be chosen annually for what will be known as The Krugman Fellowships.
See, Dr. Krugman, this is why your “economic inequality” arguments haven’t been fixing the problem. By dwelling on general categories — “the top 1 percent” and the “middle class” — you have failed to make it personal. If you break it down to individual cases, people can relate a lot more directly to the issue, deciding on how they’ll divvy up the wealth of specific rich people, like you.
Even after we re-distribute three-quarters of your income, Professor, you’ll still be making more than $100,000 a year.
That money will come in handy when you’re buying pizza for all those grad students sleeping on the floor of your apartment.
Social justice, eh?