Why Do Many Embrace Inequality?

Written by: A. Allan Schmid

Primary Source: The Troublesome Economist

Papers and books describe the widening inequality in our society.  They provide little understanding of why the 99% put up with it.

The explanation of Prof. Justin Friesen  et. al. suggest that “When we feel a lack of personal control, we compensate by looking for order or predictability in our environment.  So we desire and perceive governments and gods to be particularly powerful.  Those who suffer inequality often even defend the social system responsible,  rather than accept that life has been unjust.” (reported in the NYT June 22, 2014)

The constant litany in our press and TV emphasizes that capital provides jobs, and we can’t threaten it or it will go away.  This slogan translates into no protest against the favorable treatment of capital gains and low effective tax rate for the super rich.

It is just as true that labor provides opportunities for capital, but this is seldom noted.  Our political energy is captured by the Tea Party who rails against big government (whatever that means) and ignores inequality with the lame excuse that doing anything about it would mean more government (whatever that means).

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A. Allan Schmid
Alfred Allan Schmid, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Taught at MSU for 47 years in the Dept. of Agricultural, Food, Resource Economics. In addition to scholarly books, he more recently published a historical novel entitled "The Quest for Land and Fortune."
A. Allan Schmid

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