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The distribution of wealth in the United States (it will surprise you)

Robert Putnam: “The crumbling of the American dream is a purple problem.”

Robert Putnam, in the New York Times:

‘As successive graduating P.C.H.S. classes entered an ever worsening local economy, the social fabric of the 1950s and 1960s was gradually shredded. Juvenile-delinquency rates began to skyrocket in the 1980s and were triple the national average by 2010. Not surprisingly, given falling wages and loosening norms, single-parent households in Ottawa County doubled from 10 percent in 1970 to 20 percent in 2010, while the divorce rate more than quadrupled. In Port Clinton itself, the epicenter of the local economic collapse in the 1980s, the rate of births out of wedlock quadrupled between 1978 and 1990, topping out at about 40 percent, nearly twice the race-adjusted national average (itself rising rapidly).’

‘…The crumbling of the American dream is a purple problem, obscured by solely red or solely blue lenses. Its economic and cultural roots are entangled, a mixture of government, private sector, community and personal failings. But the deepest root is our radically shriveled sense of “we.” ‘

Read the whole article online HERE.

Check out our upcoming program looking at rising inequality HERE. And you can check out the whole dinner season HERE.

“Plutocrats:” America’s egalitarian roots

From Chrystia Freeland’s “Plutocrats:”

‘The master and his apprentice worked side by side. The latter living with the master and therefore subject to the same conditions. When these apprentices rose to be masters there was little or no change in their way of life. There was, substantially, social equality – and even political equality – for those engaged in industrial pursuits had little or no voice in the state. Before the industrial revolution, we were all pretty equal. But that changed with the first gilded age.

‘ “Today,” according to Andrew Carnegie, “we assemble thousands of operatives in the factory and in the mine of whom the employer can know little or nothing, and to whom he is little better than a myth. All intercourse between them is at an end. Rigid castes are formed and as usual mutual ignorance breeds mutual distrust.

‘That shift was particularly profound in America, one reason that even today the national mythology doesn’t entirely accept the existence of those rigid castes of industrial society.’