By Emma Coleman Jordan
In the last two days, economic inequality has been the focus of a heated debate in the New York Times editorial pages. David Brooks, a thoughtful, but often factually wrong, columnist and Paul Krugman, a Princeton economics professor, and thoughtful progressive columnist, have directly joined issue about the facts and political meaning of economic and social inequality in America. Both writers agree, that popular discontent with the economy promises to elevate these issues to general public attention in the coming elections in 2006 and 2008. This spotlight on inequality was completely absent from the 2004 Presidential election debates.
Here are the energetically opposed columns. Brooks, The Populist Myths on Income Inequality. and Krugman, Whining over Discontent. I must warn you that you may not be able to access the links, although I saved these in my public access file, if you do not subscribe to the NYT premium content feature, TimesSelect. Interestingly, neither Brooks, nor Krugman mentions the other by name.
I am delighted with this increase in the national attention devoted to economic and social inequality because my own work has focused on the issue in recent years, Jordan and Harris, Economic Justice, Race, Gender, Identity and Economics (2005) and a forthcoming book for Russell Sage Foundation, "The Role of Race in Law, Markets and Social Structures", Jordan and Ogletree, Editors, arising from the March 2006 Georgetown-Harvard Conference on Economic and Social Inequality.
The American Prospect, led by Editor Robert Kuttner, is also featuring a pointed debate this month about economic inequality: "Debating The Middle"