Opinion | How Can We Fix Income and Wealth Inequality in America?


The NFL has revenue sharing it has a draft. All of the major American needs have a draft that allocates talent sort of by order of need more or less. But other leagues have not been as successful in the NBA as the NBA and instituting this full package of measures. What’s really interesting to me is that European leagues are much less successful. So the difference between the salaries of the top players in European professional soccer leagues and the ordinary players is much, much larger than the difference between top NBA stars and ordinary bench warmers in the NBA. The difference between the best teams in soccer and those are in football as they call it in Europe. And those at the bottom is much larger than the difference from the top NBA teams the bottom NBA teams the same two teams when the Spanish soccer league almost every year and they have a huge financial advantage, and they transfer very little of their profits. So there’s this fascinating contrast. Soccer is boring says this commenter. Whether or not you like soccer what’s interesting is that Europe is much more successful in controlling inequality and in its society and much less interested in doing so in its professional sports leagues. So that contrast. I find fascinating question from Michael. I think I just lost on screen microwave grasping I bought your book. Big fan. Everybody should buy my book. That’s very important. If you take nothing else from this session, please do take that. Any thoughts on UBI. I have a lot of skepticism about UBI. I know it’s a very popular idea right now. I think, one of the arguments for UBI which I think is flawed is the idea that we’re in some period of historical transition from a society in which we can find work for everyone to a society in which machines will inherently limit the amount of work that we can do. I just don’t buy that. People have been saying that for several years now predicting that every new invention will end work as we know it. And it hasn’t happened. And the reason it hasn’t happened is because we’re very creative in finding new things for people to do. It’s all sorts of jobs that didn’t used to exist that will continue to happen. To me, it’s much more. And so the idea that we need UBI because we’re going to have some unemployed population of workers. I think just doesn’t make sense. It’s not borne out by history. And I don’t see what would have changed to make it true. This time around. What I do think very strongly is that we need to ensure that work is fairly compensated so that if you do have a job, you’re being paid at a level that is sufficient to live on. We need a higher minimum wage. We need a stronger earned income tax credit to share some of a minimum wage at the cost of it is borne by the employer particularly for smaller employers that can be difficult. So one way of distributing that costs to ensure that a worker is compensated but not necessarily entirely at their employer’s expenses to shift some of the burden to an earned income tax credit. So I think the combination of those two policies would really help to increase baseline compensation. That to me is a much more promising approach than a UBI. You do need a safety net because some people will be unable to work for various reasons. And it’s very important that society takes care of them. The idea of a UBI itself. I have hesitations about my book is called the economists, our thanks for asking. Sorry that your library made you return it early. But I hope you’re able to read the rest of it at some point. Our political and economic leaders changing their views on economic policy question from Trump poly. I don’t know. It’s a really interesting question. I think that over the last decade, we certainly saw a shift. So some of the things that really took a while. Excuse me took a while to gain traction after the crisis in 2008 have happened much more quickly this time around, which I think is just a straight up lessons learned phenomenon. So people this time around are much readier to engage in fiscal stimulus. The fed was much readier to just plunge in, and you know announce that it was going to do everything it could to stabilize financial markets. So there is there’s a lot less hesitation and I think that’s borne out of the fact that we keep having crises. We clearly haven’t learned how to prevent them. But when they show up. We’re getting perhaps a little bit better at dealing with them. But I worry that not all the lessons have been learned that well because what we’re now seeing is a little bit of a bounce back from the absolute depths of the first months of the crisis. And then you know we’ve got Congress essentially dithering about the need for further aid at a moment when you know, we still have a much higher level of unemployment than at any time since the Great Depression. And so I’m not sure the lesson has been learned as completely as I would like. I think you know we still don’t seem to grasp our policymaking class still doesn’t seem to grasp the absolute necessity of government intervention during periods of private sector slowdown or lockdown, which is what we’re seeing now. And as we have failed to control this pandemic and it continues to spread across the country. We’re once again in this position of you know needing the government to step in and I worry that the government will not do it. I worry that it feels too exhausted the politics are too complicated. There’s an election looming when this really scary period right now where there is half a year left in Donald Trump’s term in office. He has shown very little interest or ability to deal with the crisis. No one else can do his job for him and we’re stuck with him for this period of time until you know we can elect someone else. And that is a real crisis for this country in a parliamentary democracy. You have the opportunity to unseat you know your leader and replace him during a period of crisis. The United Kingdom didn’t stick with Chamberlain it got rid of him. And installed Churchill when it needed to. There is an opportunity in periods of crisis to do something different. We’re stuck with the current administration during a period of economic crisis and the health crisis. And it’s not clear that seems likely to be very costly and there is no easy solution for it. Let’s see. Will we ever be able to reduce the gap between CEO pay and the average middle level worker. I hope so. Part of the point of this series is to suggest some ways in which we could do that. There’s a couple of big reasons that CEO pay has gone out of control. One of them, which we see broadly across society. This what’s called the superstar effect, which is that it to some degree, you know the CEOs of the biggest companies are doing bigger jobs than ever before and doing them in a global marketplace and they’re earning more. Just because you know they hold these unique positions. And we reward our most you know in the same way the top stars in sports leagues make more than ever before. So do CEOs. But all the available evidence suggests that that actually explains a fairly small part of the phenomenon that there’s not a great deal of connection between the level of compensation and the performance of chief executives. The ones who suck don’t get paid less, which you might expect they should. There’s not a lot of evidence that these higher levels of compensation incentivize stronger performance. Which you again, might hope would be the case. And there’s not a lot of evidence that the CEOs are delivering value at the multiple that their salary is to the ordinary worker. So what do we do about it. Well, one big thing we should be doing about it is controlling more broadly, the degree to which investors are able to profit by milking companies because part of the problem here is that we’ve sort of relocated our executives from the salaried worker class to the executive class to the investor class. Excuse me. Until they make more money because they’re essentially investors in their own companies. That’s their primary form of compensation. That’s how they get paid as in stock options. And that has the result of causing these compensation levels to just increase and increase and increase. So curtailing the ability of corporations to buy back shares of their own stock, you know finding ways of encouraging corporations to take a longer view through tax policy so that they’re not just striving to deliver maximal quarterly earnings. These are all policies that would tend to reduce CEO compensation too. And then the other half of this is that raising worker pay has this effect too. So if you raise the minimum wage or if you drive up wage and compensation levels by requiring stronger sort of minimum compensation standards for employees each employee benefits a fairly small amount across a large company. It’s a lot of money. It means that more of that compensation pie is going to the workers less of it is going to the chief executives. And that’s really, I think, a helpful helpful shift. I have a question from before here in the queue about why we didn’t talk about climate change in the context. And this is from Christine MSM and I’m sorry. It’s not it’s from AP it’s not much of name, but AP asked why we didn’t talk about climate change. And I’ve seen a couple of other comments about that in the course of our series. Listen, there’s no bigger existential crisis than climate change. We absolutely need to deal with it. It’s absolutely crucial. This series was focused on a narrower set of what I think of as slightly more short term challenges not that we don’t need to start dealing with climate change immediately. But on top of climate change. We also need to deal with inequality. Unfortunately, our society is beset by a number of interlocked crises all of which need to be addressed with some sense of immediacy and urgency. Climate change is one of them. But it’s not the only one. It is true that climate change has linkages with inequality stresses on climate are likely to become stresses on the economy and those are likely to be felt most profoundly by those who have the least. And so climate change will tend to exacerbate economic inequality and the people who are suffering from inequality will suffer more from climate change. So I think that dealing with climate change is an absolute necessity. But it’s a separate issue that deserves to be treated on its own. You know. And I think of it as a little bit distinct from inequality and our focus here was on inequality. A related question is why we didn’t say more about the role of money in politics and sort of the foundational set of issues around democracy here. And I think this is really important because it is the case that even if you come up with a perfect set of proposals for dealing with economic inequality. It will not happen until we are dealing successfully with the flaws in our democratic system until we’re ensuring that the voices of the governance of the governed are actually heard by the government and translated into policy. This is a huge challenge. I think part of the problem, frankly, is that the voices of the governed have been a little confused in recent decades. People have been willing to take cheap goods in lieu of good jobs. People have accepted the premise that trickle down economics will help them. They have prioritized cultural issues over economic issues. They have embraced policies or at least embraced politicians who supported policies that ultimately were not good for workers. So some of what we need to do is find a language that compels people to understand that their own interest lies in a different approach to economic policy. But even if you do that, you have a translation problem because politicians have insulated themselves from the will of the voters by limiting access to the ballot box by making elections into fundraising contests. And you need to deal with that too. I’m just going to pause here and remind you that I’m opinion Applebaum with the New York Times editorial board and I’m taking questions on our America. We need serious today. We have someone online pretty much every day talking to you folks on Twitter. There is a big lineup coming next week. Liz Bruning on Monday. Jameel Buoy on Tuesday. Kara swisher on Wednesday. Roxane gay on Thursday and fired Manjoo on Friday. And you should join them as well. And now back to the conversation we were talking about the problems with our democracy and a question you just mentioned the Senate. Why shouldn’t we. Let’s see if I can find a question here. Should we abolish the Senate since it doesn’t proportionately represent the country. So the problem with the Senate, which has grown much great. I mean by design the Senate and the federal judiciary. And the electoral college are all systems of checking the will of the majority. And you do want systems for checking the will of the majority. That’s actually an important part of the construct of our republic. But those checks have stretched beyond control in recent decades. The senate a smaller and smaller share of the population controls a majority of the Senate when the Senate was created. The gap between Delaware and Virginia was much, much, much smaller than the gap today between Wyoming and California. Those are the smallest and largest states in each hour. And so what you have is that smaller numbers of people can exert this tremendous control over the legislative process and can basically impede democratic necessary democratic reforms. That’s a big problem. I don’t know that I’ll go so far as saying that we should abolish the Senate. I believe very strongly that we should make Washington d.c. a state. I believe strongly that we should make Puerto Rico a state. And you know that would probably have some effect on rebalancing our democracy. I think that, you know senators are giving a lot of consideration right now to their own administrative procedures the filibuster. And the rules around it, which is another mechanism that can be used by a minority to prevent the majority from expressing its will. Those things are very important. Wouldn’t it be more important if true proportional representation in congressional elections. Duncan hewes you know, it’s very interesting. My colleague one of my colleagues here at the times has done a lot of work on the importance of gerrymandering and his conclusion. I don’t have expertise in this area. But his conclusion is that gerrymandering is somewhat overstated as a problem that even if you moved to a different system of electing representatives you would solve a relatively small portion of the political dysfunction. I don’t have my own view. But I find it interesting that the conventional wisdom about that may not bear out in the numbers, but I think you know that the Senate to me is a bigger concern than the proportionality of the house and beyond that, the federal judiciary not the structure of the federal judiciary so much as just that I think a lot of people who support liberal reforms a lot of people will back liberal candidates haven’t paid very much attention to the judiciary’s role as a force in making economic policy in this country. Going back to the house someone asks, why do we keep 1,435 members no good reason. I think a larger house could be a meaningful reform. But I think the judiciary is something that people who want to see these rules changed in our society need to pay a lot more attention to. Liberals have tended to appoint judges on social issues more than on economic issues. And we’re paying a price for that because the federal judiciary is thinking about economic issues is dominated by a very conservative and corporatist bent that we’ve seen play out and express itself in any number of policy decisions in recent years with hugely detrimental consequences for American workers. The court’s refusal to enforce antitrust laws that are written into the books that say things very clearly in the or just ignore them at the insistence on mandating arbitration for workers. The routine backing of the financial industry in cases in which it is abused consumers. I mean, I can keep going, but the bottom line is that our courts are a big part of how power has been shifted by conservative interests. And by investors and corporations and toward lining their own pockets. At the expense of workers at the expense of ordinary Americans. And I think the shift in power needs to happen in the court system in order to reverse those trends. So that’s a big part of it as well. Let’s see what we’ve got here in the way of questions. Would term limits help not a big fan of term limits. How much does support from the New York Times for reactionary views limit transformative change. Patterson toast. Patterson might you write back and tell me which reactionary views you have in mind. What about the Marshall Islands. If you’re asking whether I favor statehood for the Marshall Islands. I think the Marshall Islands should be free to be independent if they want to be. But I’m not sure it makes much sense to make them a state. Should we abolish the Senate already done that one. How can we educate the American public to have a better understanding of judicial bench. I don’t know. Maybe let’s have some live Twitter chats where we talk about it with people write some editorials about it. Do some pieces about it. I mean, my tools are in hand. I write. And I talk. And I try to educate people about this stuff fighting encourage you guys to do the same. And I think that that has you know ultimately, you shift the public debate by participating in it. And our obligation is to articulate a case for the policies we believe are necessary and the values we believe are important. And hopefully by doing that, we contribute to shifting the dialogue. I don’t want to overstate the importance of rhetoric. I think rules really matter too. And at a very fundamental level. Part of our challenge as a society is to rewrite those rules and to create a sufficient political consensus in favor of rewriting those rules to create a forum in which ideas can express themselves politically. Hi, I’m Aditi high school student big fan. How do you recommend becoming a better writer and argument. That’s an interesting question. It’s like getting to Carnegie hall right. Practice practice, practice. I think writing is something. Journalism is a craft. I’m not going to take a stand on journalism school, and engaged in a very long running controversy here. But the bottom line is journalism is something you learn by doing it. You learn how to write by doing it. So if you’re interested in being a writer if you’re interested in making persuasive arguments and writing. You’ve just got to start doing it. Finding opportunities to express yourself to make your case, it’s easier than it’s ever been before because the internet allows anybody to speak directly to the public. And if they make a compelling argument people will find it and read it. So there’s this tremendous opportunity for people when we see it happening all the time for people to you know, to make those arguments to build a profile for themselves as a writer, as an expert. I guess the two other pieces of advice that offer one sort of small bore one large bar. I read everything that I write out loud drives my wife a little crazy, but I find it tremendously important. I want to be able to hear it. I want it. And I just catch things in my writing that if I didn’t read it out loud. I wouldn’t catch. So I highly recommend reading you’re writing out loud. It’s a little embarrassing sitting there talking to yourself, but I find it very valuable. The broader point I’d make is that expertise is really important. The most compelling arguments are rooted in expertise. They’re rooted in fact, they’re rooted in specifics. And if you master the areas in which you want to write. And argue you will be much more compelling you’ll contribute much more to the dialogue and to the debate. And so you know not to hold myself up as an example because there are better ones. But I’m the one I know best. And you know I spent a lot of years just covering economics and writing about economic policy and not taking a stand on these issues before I felt, you know, that I had sufficiently arrived at my own conclusions that I wanted to shift and start talking about what I thought. But I didn’t start by talking about what I thought. I started by doing journalism for a lot of years and learning for a lot of years and studying for a lot of years and the writers who I respect the most the writers. I find most interesting tend to be people who are rooted in expertise. Until we got here. It helps to have lived life to be able to write something worth reading now. You know, I think there’s something to that. But there are young people who write brilliantly as well. So it may help. But it’s certainly not necessary. How do you feel about the list. I don’t know what the list is. What do you make of the ashes new project. I’m not even sure who yasha is. How does the role of judicial branch in the US compare to peers e.g. the UK. They’re very different. They’re very different systems of government. I mean, I think in general American democracy has some analogues in other countries. But our system is much less centralized than in most other countries. Power is much more decentralized both because a federal system and through the structure of the federal government itself. And so I change when it in some of these other countries change can happen much more quickly. Because when there’s a unity of purpose. The system is constructed in such a way that things can shift rather dramatically. And so the Thatcher era in Great Britain to thicken up. And an obvious example of this was a much bigger revolution than the Reagan era in the United States because Reagan’s ability to shift policy was constrained by the institutional structure of the United States. Thatcher by contrast enjoyed much greater latitude to realize revision in the United kingdom and there are pluses and minuses obviously. I’ve never seen convincing research paper that points to democratic capture by wealthy Americans. We’ve actually cited some in our works I’d refer you back to our series, which shows you know there’s some pretty good political science work you know on the way that, in particular, the wealthy are extremely effective in blocking policies that they don’t like. So actually convincing a majority of Congress to pass something they do like is a trickier proposition. But you know the evidence suggests that they are very effective in holding sort of a veto over kinds of policy that they don’t like. I agree that it’s easy to overstate the power of money in politics. This is still a democratic government. A majority of the people can still make their own decisions know. And there are certainly instances in which the best funded candidate does not win the policy that the expensive corporation backs aggressively does not prevail. But I also think at the level of commonsense that it’s pretty hard to look at the evolution of policy in this country over the last couple of decades. And not see evidence that money influences political outcomes and the quantification of that is indeed the work of political science and it’s important. And we ought not to ignore it. But the drift is clear the drift is happening in part because the rich have been very successful in convincing other people that there is a mutuality of interest and that the best way for everyone to prosper is for the rich to prosper. An argument that I think by now to be rubbished but remains surprisingly convincing to a lot of people. But it is the case that the rich have you know through the force of persuasion through the force of money in politics, you know succeeded in enacting many things that they like and in destroying many things that they don’t how do you think the Russian problem will resolve itself. Not sure what the Russian problem is. Well, I can imagine some, but I’m not sure which one the questioner has in mind. Are there levers for influence from the wealthy beyond just campaign donations and classic lobbying. Yeah I mean, the most important, which I just mentioned is you know their ability to convince other Americans that there is this mutuality of interest. I also think people don’t understand how lobbying works quite often why I shouldn’t say that. I hate the formulation. I’m not going to tell you what you do or don’t understand. For me it was a bit of a revelation in coming to Washington sometime ago to see the mechanics of lobbying work. What lobbyists really control what they do that is most powerful. Quite often is that they control information. They are the ones who bring to the people who make the laws, the data, the facts sometimes even the model legislation and that allows them to control the debate. It’s not that you know, the congressman doesn’t listen to both sides. It’s not that the congressmen necessarily finds them more compelling and want to win argument. They’re literally providing the oxygen that’s necessary for the legislative process to move forward. And by doing that, they exert enormous control over policy debate. So if you’re trying to regulate banks and the banking industry is itself, providing you with the crucial data that you need to arrive at your conclusions you can imagine the opportunity that the banking industry has to shape those conclusions through careful editing and presentation of that data. And this is true across a wide range of industries. And so you know what lobbyists good lobbyists really do very effectively is not so much that they advance the best arguments, but that they literally provide the universe of information in which the debate is transpiring. And that’s very hard to beat. Let’s say do wealth and inherent in sex as work. Can they meaningfully reduce inequality in society. I think wealth and inherent taxes are enormously important both symbolically as a statement about our belief as a society that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed and prosper but that you know a person who is rich solely because their parents or their grandparents or their great grandparents were rich is not there’s no benefit to society in that they have not earned that money. I don’t think it should all be taken away. But a lot of it should be redistributed for the benefit of society at large on whose backs much of it was earned in the first place. And so the restoration of inheritance taxes. I think is enormously important. Now it should be noted that financially speaking, it’s not a huge amount of money. It’s actually disappointing how little money. It is. At least I find it disappointing. But the math says that you can’t fund too much of the expansion that we need in our social safety net. On the back of a larger inheritance tax by itself. But to me, the more important argument for an for an inheritance tax is that you know there is essentially a justice in that redistribution. The argument for allowing people to prosper is that they have contributed to society not that their parents have done so. And so I think the restoration of an inheritance tax is a very important part of making the system more equitable even though in dollar terms, it’s not a huge part of how we raise the money we need to have the government programs that we need. How would you persuade people that 10 amazons is better than one Amazon. So I think the case of Amazon is really interesting. And I’m not wholly persuaded that Amazon is better than what Amazon, although I do think that if that marketplace is going to assume an increasingly central importance as a forum in which individuals and companies trade with each other, then it needs to be regulated by the government to ensure that it operates fairly and transparently and that Amazon itself doesn’t have the advantage of being able to do whatever it wants in the context of the marketplace that it happens to operate. But in general, I think you know and this is true for other tech companies too. The question of whether we benefit by having 10 Facebook or 10 Amazon’s whatever that would mean exactly is less intuitive to me than the argument that those marketplaces offer information for communication and for person to person and business to business transactions need to be regulated to ensure that they operate fairly you know there’s an analog here with the common carrier laws for railroads which in a previous era where you know these inherent monopoly businesses that serve the community. You just had one railroad in many communities. If they were allowed to do whatever they wanted to, they could behave patiently and take advantage of consumers and businesses. And so it was necessary for the government to come in and establish rules for the conduct of those businesses to treat them in essence something like a public utility in order to make sure that they played a fair role in the economy. Welfare spending has gone way up, though that’s not true right. Lobbyists from the conception. What are the ways in which activists can counter the information advantage that lobbyists have. It’s really hard. There are a number of liberal groups that have tried to do this that have tried to sort of become information providers in Washington. There’s a resources problem there. I think one of the best ways that the government can insulate itself against the influence of private sector lobbying is by ensuring that it has its own sources of information. Is actually a very interesting argument that Congress is understaffed and that we ought to invest more in building up the information gathering and analysis capabilities of Congress itself to insulated from the need to rely as extensively as it does on the private sector. And I would say that that’s even more true of many state legislators which are so grossly underfunded and undermanned that they’re performing this tremendously important legislative function with a minimum of resources. And so they’re completely reliant on, you know laws that are handed to them and information that’s handed to them. Big states that have the resources to fund are competent legislatures and that fail to do so. Are really you know they’re not holding down the size of government. The government gets just as big as just as the government ends up being the rules end up being written by business. And I think you know there’s a real failure to appreciate the value of investing more in the legislative function. I think that would be a really important way to limit the power of corporations. What are my thoughts on modern monetary theory to low interest rates make deficits unimportant. My thoughts on monetary theory. Modern monetary theory frankly or that I don’t totally understand it. I know that this is a popular subject arose people on Twitter about dark things about modern monetary theory that I regard as highly sensible, but not particularly original. There are things about modern monetary theory that seem more original but perhaps not as sensible. I’m still not clear on what its original contribution is or what its exact claims are. So it’s very hard to say. Beyond that what I think of it. If the basic insight is just that you know a government that can print its own money has greater financial flexibility than one that doesn’t. That is undoubtedly true. And I’m willing to stipulate. So better funding and staffing of CBO et cetera. Yeah, exactly. The congressional budget office. But not just the CBO. Every committee has this problem. So it’s not just an economic function. But you know the folks who are overseeing the military. The folks who are overseeing health and Human Services, the folks who are overseeing agriculture. They’re all suffering from a shortage of resources and an inability to perform their own in-house analysis. Congress has this reluctance to fund itself because you know it has a political problem. And I understand that. But it would be enormously valuable for the government to invest more in the legislative process. This questioner wants to know why we focus what is actually very important. So one of the emphases in our series, we have a new piece today that attempts to sort of wrap up the big lessons and again, pause mentioned, I’m Benny Appelbaum with the New York Times editorial board talking about the America. We need series here today on our regular almost daily series of Twitter discussions in this new area where we all sit at home all day. And you know it’s about to talk about our series. The aspect of our series. We have this solutions piece today where we try to round up some of our big ideas. And one of the biggest is that there is really a hole in the way that the government interacts with American lives. And it’s at the beginning of life. The government does not do nearly enough to get people off to a good start in life. And that has profound consequences because we know from a growing body of research that kids you don’t get off on the right foot are permanently impaired in their ability to compete in this society to growing a society to prosper in this society. And so it’s really tremendously important for us to do more at the beginning of life. I love the baby bonds idea that Corey Booker made a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. It’s one of the most interesting public policy ideas I’ve tripped across in a long time. It just pushes a lot of the buttons in terms of what we could do at a relatively affordable scale to really transform a basic dynamic of society. The basic idea is that the government would create a savings account for every American newborn put money into it at birth and then make additional annual contributions based on family income. It’s basically a way of ensuring that everyone has the advantages, at least to some extent that have long belonged to people like me where your parents can’t help you a little bit to get started in life. And I think that that is just tremendously important and would be tremendously valuable in equalizing some of the disparities in American life. So I love that idea. I think that I live in a city Washington d.c. where public schooling is universal from the age of 3. Dc has been a leader in this and some other states have similar programs. But not nearly enough. Every American should have the opportunity to be in the School of Public school by the age of four at the latest. And I think that we have a growing body of research that shows that would make a big difference to this question are asked why aren’t we focused on college. I only focused on what happens after high school and some of this is just a question of priority setting. I think that there is a lot of evidence that we can make a much bigger difference by focusing on the beginning of life getting everyone off on a solid foundation off to a strong start and then those for whom college is right. Those for whom colleges are a useful investment should go to college. And we should make that possible. But if I had to pick one place to focus public resources. Now first to me the evidence and to the board the evidence is very compelling. At the start of life should have priority that that universal preschool is more important. What housing policy should replace the obviously failed institution of homeownership. Well, thank you for the question. Housing policy is one of my very, very most favorite topics in the whole world. I love talking about it. I am deeply of the belief that the affordable housing crisis in this country is rooted is at the root of many of our other problems. We’re pushing people further away from jobs from services from supportive communities simply because rich people refuse to allow housing construction in their neighborhoods. One of the big problems in America right now is Westchester County and Montgomery county and the counties around San Francisco is unclear as of wealth that have been created as exclusionary communities of people who professed liberal values but refused to share their resources with the community by allowing housing construction. And I simply don’t know very many things that would make a bigger difference in reversing the inequalities of this society than supporting increased affordable housing construction in the places where jobs exist in the communities where services exist there need to be apartment buildings in these places. It’s just that simple. There is no alternative model that can address these huge problems other than increasing the density of housing in our prospering cities. And to me, it’s that simple. Is there a way for the Fed to do more for those in the bottom quintile of wealth and income. Yeah, there is. I mean and we talked about it in our solutions piece today. The Fed is systematically for years and decades now under shop. It has underestimated how much how many jobs can be created. It has systematically stepped on job growth. And that has helped to suppress wage growth. And the fed simply needs to try harder to maximize employment. I think a very interesting idea. Economist Jared Bernstein has this paper out recently suggesting that the Fed can correct its aim by aiming at the black unemployment rate, which is always higher than the white unemployment rate. And by aiming at that rate instead and trying to drive it lower it will in the first place. You know how to address the inequalities in our society. The racial inequalities in our society and in the second place benefit all of us. Because the Fed is overly conservative in the way that it manages the economy and that type of site correction might improve its aim how to stop school funding to come from property taxes. Well, that’s a great question. There’s lots of ways to do school funding. You can use property taxes you just need to correct the imbalances. But you don’t want is a world in which the funding for your local public school is determined or the quality. And we know that funding has a direct connection to educational quality. The only people who argue against that premise are people who send their children to schools and expensive school districts. So you can feel free to discount what they say. And we know that if you tie the quality of education to the value of parents homes you’re doing a fundamental disservice to society. And so what you need to do is either if you’re going to use property taxes have some additional source of either reallocated or have some additional source of revenue to correct for these imbalances. But what you need at the end of the day is a system that spends more money on educating lower income children than on educating affluent children. And I have to say that it is astonishing. This is not obvious to us. It’s true and basically every other developed country. We stand alone in thinking that it makes any sense at all to invest more money in educating affluent children and reversing that pattern is hugely important. Well cutting one billion from the budget for the NYPD helped to decrease crime in New York City. I don’t know. I think it’s really where a really interesting moment with policing not my area of expertise. But the abuses of policing are clear. I think part of the problem is plausibly that we’re asking the police to do too many different kinds of things. And reallocating some of those functions to other types of public services and public service providers. That makes a lot of sense to me. What we’re doing isn’t working. And when you’re doing something that’s not working, it can be a good idea to try something else. Is there a way to regulate PE firms buying up and renting single family homes leading renters dry. Certainly this is a really interesting question. So the pattern here is clear. We’re seeing large scale investment in single family homes. I’ll say a couple of things about it. The first is that large scale investment in residential property is not new. It’s just historically been apartment buildings, rather than single family homes. And some of the you know sense of upset about this seems to just totally ignore that fact, as if something totally new is happening in the world. It’s not. We’ve had the basic problem here for a long time. The second is I don’t think ownership is the issue. I think regulation is the issue. I think that society can deal with this problem by attempting to directly regulate the way that landlords behave. It shouldn’t matter as much who the landlord is as what laws apply to landlords. And so I’m not as concerned about PR firms owning homes as I am about the fact that the government needs to do a better job of protecting tenants from landlords of any kind. Do you think a greater emphasis on financial literacy in high schools would be positive. Newspaper reader yes newspaper reader. First off great name. Second off. I love this question because it drives me insane that there is driver’s education and sex education and music education and financial education is not viewed as an equally essential part of our educational curriculum. It’s just inexplicable and it ought to be fixed. What are the best ways to combat voter suppression. I think first, you need to recognize the scope of the problem. Voter suppression is happening in basically almost every community in this country in different forms. If there are models. There are some I mean Oregon’s a great model of a community that actually makes it easy for everyone to vote. But across much of this country. It is the case that it is too hard to vote. The lines are too long. There are not enough polling stations. It’s too hard to register. It’s too hard to. This is all ridiculous. The solution is very simple. We clearly need to legislate a set of basic reforms that create automatic registration no excuse absentee voting day of election registration and enough polling places. So nobody needs to wait for hours online. I want to see this clearly because we spend a lot of time criticizing Republican voter suppression which is in many ways flagrant and over the top, but at areas of this country that are entirely controlled by the Democratic party are completely failing to make it possible for people to vote. The voting system in New York is terribly broken. Los Angeles hours long lines. What is the excuse for that. These are politicians who profess a commitment to making sure that everyone can vote, but they’re not living it. And I think a lot more attention should focus on those failures are autonomous zones. The better alternative to cities with police departments. I don’t know. But I’m skeptical. My own school requires every student to take a personal finance class focusing on saving as such. OK, well, your school is doing the right thing. That is fantastic. I assume that everybody who’s watching at this point has figured out that you can submit questions. And I will read them live on the air and try to answer them. So please do. If you have not. Let’s see what else we’ve got from the backed up questions here rather than a 15 dollar minimum wage, we need a living wage. Yeah, I agree 59 minimum wage is not sufficient in many parts of the country. Part of what you’re trying to thread here is that he gets too much higher than $15. There are parts of the country in which ‘15 dollars is a really high percentage of the overall median wage. And there is a reason that we set these rules by state. And so what you want is a federal floor that is at a level that works pretty much everywhere in the country. You can imagine either wage in some kind of offset. But as a matter of simplicity, let’s just say that you want to set the minimum wage at a level that’s not going to be crippling anywhere in the country. And then local jurisdictions have an obligation to get above it. And that’s happening in a lot of places and needs to continue to happen. But of course, New York should have a higher minimum wage than $15. Of course Los Angeles should have a higher minimum wage than to $15. And you know it would be a failure of local government in those places if they simply accepted the federal minimum wage as their own baseline. But I think that’s the appropriate mechanism for dealing with it Kumar Balak says, no matter what your location is people deserve some level of discretionary income as well. Absolutely I mean, I think Franklin Roosevelt he has this quote race as you know a living wage by which I mean, you know, people have something to live on and something to live for. It’s something like that. But the premise there is that you know a living wage is basically enough to cover your basic expenses. And then a little more than that. And I think you know the power of the concept of poverty is an interesting one. Right absolute deprivation is relatively rare in the United States. But poverty is a relative concept. When we talk about poverty. What we’re usually talking about is a sense that some people are being deprived relative to the resources of society as a whole. We all recognize that what it means to live in poverty in the United States is different than what it means to live in poverty in China or India. And the reason is that this society has more resources than those societies do. And so we have the ability to improve the quality of the minimum quality of life in our society. And with that ability comes the obligation to do so. That’s what it means to live in a society. And so the question is basically how you define poverty once you’ve acknowledged that it’s a relative concept and not an absolute concept. You’re in the world of needing to figure out what minimum standard of life you want to guarantee for the people who live in your community. But I agree with the premise that standard ought to be something more than you know housing plus food plus fuel or whatever. And that we as a society can deliver something more than that. Let’s see if we raise the minimum wage aren’t we all going to be replaced by robots. I’ve talked about this a little bit before. The bottom line is I do not think so. I think that history teaches that we have a remarkable capacity to invent new kinds of works for people to do. I think we see it happening in front of our eyes. You know there are forms of employment today. You just pause and think about it for a minute that that didn’t exist when your parents were in their prime. And that will be true for us as well. And so I just fundamentally don’t accept that premise. It is true that if you raise the minimum wage over time McDonald’s will probably employ fewer people. Each of them will be employed at a level that allows them to care for their family and those who are no longer employed by McDonald’s will be able to find other kinds of work. And we need to ensure that those are also fairly compensated. You set a baseline and then you let the market sort out where people end up working. Why is New York city’s election system. So broken. The very simple answer is that it’s a single party system in which the people who are in power do not seem to maintain power in part by limiting the electorate and they don’t want to make it possible for a broader section of the population to vote. They’ve made that very clear through their actions. It’s not just in New York City. It’s true all over the country that we’re having this profound failure of a commitment to make it easy for people to vote. And I think it’s an embarrassment. Should we reduce barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people. Absolutely And this is a really interesting issue that’s gaining salience because you know we are seeing a move toward reducing prison populations. We’re seeing a move toward reducing prison terms. These are wonderfully positive developments. One consequence is that we’re going to have both. We’ve also just got this because we’ve been incarcerating so many people over time. But the share of the population particularly the African-American population that has a criminal record is quite large and excluding those people from the workforce or from the electorate is a form of punishment beyond what society decided they needed to do for their crimes. And it punishes all of us because it reduces their ability to contribute to society as well. So addressing that finding ways of reintegrating people into the labor force finding ways of allowing people to resume their lives, even if they have aired as we all have I think is tremendously important. How do you think minimum wage laws should be applied to small business. Well, I’ve talked a little bit about this before, but to revisit it for a moment. I think that there is a legitimate concern about the ability of small businesses to carry the cost of higher minimum wages. That’s one reason you don’t want to raise them. You don’t want to just rely on the minimum wage as your sole means of raising the standard of living for workers at the earned income tax credit is a really important complement to a higher minimum wage because what it allows you to do is to increase the ITC. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a clever device for refunding a portion of the payroll taxes. The Medicare and social security taxes that workers pay. So people who aren’t paying any income taxes are still paying taxes on their income to fund these other government benefit programs. And the ITC basically refunds a portion of that payment. It allows them to take home more of the money that they earn. And that’s really valuable because the cost of that is distributed more broadly it doesn’t just fall on the small business. So it allows you to raise the income level of individual workers without relying solely on minimum wage increases. And I think that’s hugely beneficial. Ranked choice voting. I think it’s a really interesting question. I personally am not an expert on this. And there are people who have much more sophisticated opinions are right to voting. I find it very intriguing as a system. And I’d like to see it tried in New York or in other places. I think it could be really beneficial. I think it’s a really interesting way of, you know breaking open these systems that are clearly not producing you know. You know our election system is clearly underperforming our needs. So I’m extremely open to these kinds of ideas for revising the process. But the front end issue to me is still dominant. You need to make it easier for people to vote. And if you do, I think that you get more competitive elections even in the absence of structural reforms. Although I tend to agree that those as I said, I think there are interesting. There’s interesting potential in some of those experiments to Texas as this is a really good one. We’re coming to it at the end. But one thing that people have noticed about our series. The America. We need is that we didn’t talk much about taxation. It was a conscious choice. We wanted to focus on what you do with the money rather than where you get it from. In broad strokes where you get it from is absolutely clear the answer is that you need to tax the rich at higher rates. There are a bunch of different ways to do it. The hard part that people don’t like to hear is that the rich is a group of people that’s larger than many Americans may think. Indeed most New York Times readers probably fall in the category of people who need to be paying higher taxes. The idea that we can just leave taxes at the same level for everyone making up to $400,000 a year is a crazy form of pandering that is not borne out by any economic analysis. The cold hard fact is that many Americans more affluent Americans do not pay enough taxes and we need to change that. And there are a lot of ways to do it. But there’s no way around it. Which part of the checklist are you most optimistic about getting implemented. That’s a great question. You know some of these are areas in which we’re seeing movement universal pre-K which I think is one of the most important ideas on the list is also one that I think there’s a building consensus behind its importance. We’re seeing states moving slowly. Excuse me in that direction. I think that’s likely to continue. And if the evidence continues to come in that it’s effective. My expectation is that in a, we will get to something approaching universality. You know in the foreseeable future maybe you get a couple of holdout states. But my guess is that it becomes more common than not across the country for four-year-Olds to be in public school. The part of the checklist I’d most like to see implemented and I’ve referenced this before. If I could pick one idea from that whole list. It would be baby bonds. I remain intrigued by the cost benefit ratio that it’s not financially a huge lift, but I think it could be enormously impactful should we fund public colleges to take on the role of the media. Probably reduces elite influence. I’m not sure how funding public colleges would take on the role Media is the idea that you’d have like your local NPR station like WBUR are in Boston, which is affiliated with Boston University. That’s not a public college. I’m not sure what you’re asking. In general, I think we need a solution for local media. We’re seeing across the country this drought in the information ecosystem that makes it much harder for people to find out what is happening in their local community to hold their political leaders accountable. I hear stories about you know entire states where there’s simply no one paying attention to what the senator is doing in Washington. No member of the media devoted to that question. So if the senator does something that makes national news great. It’s covered if not, it’s not covered and that’s you know that sets aside the state legislature that sets. So we’re seeing nonprofit money flowing into these journalism initiatives at the state level. And that I think you know, is clearly going to have to be part of the answer. We’re seeing newspapers becoming vanity properties for billionaires. I have mixed feelings about it. But it’s better than not having newspapers. I’ll say that for it. But we need answers. We need journalism. I believe that deeply and profoundly I’ve devoted my life to it. And you know, I hope we find a way of doing that. As any economy in the world recovered from the pandemic Foley. If so how did they do it. I don’t know that anyone’s at full recovery, but there’s a lot of countries doing better than ours. And you know the answer is very simple. It’s a public health problem. You need to begin by controlling the pandemic. That’s the basis of any economic recovery. Until you’ve controlled the pandemic you’re not going to see a full recovery in economic activity because people aren’t suicidal. Once you’ve controlled the pandemic, then you really a lot of activity will just rebound on its own. And the additional increment you can you can deal with. But you know we’re doing the opposite and the disaster. You know we haven’t hit bottom yet. And that’s really unfortunate. When we started you know we started working on this inequality series. I’m headed toward the top of the hour here. So I’ll make this the last thing that I say. When we started working on the inequality series, we were in this very different world of the longest period of uninterrupted growth in American history. And you know thinking about how it could be more equitably distributed. Why it was that we weren’t all benefiting from this extended period of growth. And during the course of our preparations we all of a sudden moved into this really different world where things were collapsing around us. But I think we’ve come to see that those two things are really connected. The flaws in the period of growth also underlie the ways in which this disaster has spun out of control. Our democracy is failing to serve the interests of the governed. Our economy for much the same reasons is failing to serve the interests of the broadest possible constituency. Our society is under tremendous strain and our hope in writing this series was to push the dialogue in a constructive direction and to say, listen things are bleak right now really bleak but this isn’t the worst it’s ever been. And we’ve shown inability in the past to you know in moments of crisis seize the opportunity to build a stronger society. And it is to be hoped. I hope sincerely that we can do it again. So I’m opinion Appelbaum at the New York Times editorial board and that wraps up today’s chat. I hope you’ll join us next week. We’ve got a lineup of people pretty much every day here on Twitter to talk to you about the issues of the day. Thanks very much for joining me. I hope you enjoyed it. And I’ll see you next time. Thanks


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