Yesterday on Talk of the Nation, the New Republic’s Timothy Noah talked about the growing divide between rich and poor. According to him, economic inequality an especially troublesome problem today, causing more political problems than in the past because it makes the poor feel like they’re not really part of the same community. The bit of the talk I heard irritated me almost to the point of driving my car off the road; instead, I just turned off the radio.
1. Apparently poor people in the past didn’t feel this way because the inequality wasn’t quite bad enough. To Noah, it’s apparently not that you’re struggling and others aren’t that matters, but that you’re struggling and others aren’t struggling even less, or something.
2. Apparently in the ’50s and ’60s, because economic inequality, there was a better sense of community, a better sense of “we’re all in this together,” this white man said to another white man.
3. Noah said, “The amount of money going to the 1% has increased, so there’s less to spread around among the rest of us.”
That’s when I turned it off. I don’t waste my time on people who make that basic error. It’s an upfront demonstration that there’s no reason to listen seriously to them. And even as a white guy I hate this glorification of the ’50s and ’60s by white people; white liberals, who just might have an issue they at least pretend to care about that might give them reason to hesitate, no less. I was particularly struck since right now I happen to be reading The Spook Who Sat By the Door, and the bitter sense of permanent exclusion from the American community just seethes throughout the book. Maybe Timothy Noah should read it.