Monday, January 28, 2013

More on Wealth Supremacism

Paul Krugman writes again today on the intellectual bubble conservatives continue to inhabit while trying to pretend otherwise to win votes. Not only do Republican politicians live in an intellectual bubble (joined by conservative and pseudo-moderate Democrats), so too do journalists and scholars who claim to find 'evidence' supporting right-wing GOP economic policies. Conservative politicians may be grossly ill-informed or just weak-minded. But what accounts for undeniably very-intelligent researchers like Gregory Mankiw or Glenn Hubbard? Economics is dominated by conservative thinking.

The question is not whether the intellectual bubble exists, but, firast, how it is kept inflated despite all the evidence that should burst it and, second, what cherished belief is at its center.

I think the answer is profoundly troubling. A significant body of conservatives and pseudo-moderates (e.g., Cass Sunstein) are wealth supremacists. They believe that the wealthy are naturally superior — even biologically so. Gregory Mankiw stated this explicitly in his blog in August, 2009. He asserted that children of the wealthy perform better in school because they've inherited their wealthy parents' superior genes.

Conservatives (and pseudo-moderates) aren't all so extreme. But American culture is thick with evidence that many people, perhaps most, view the wealthy or famous as simply better people. It is quite amazing and disturbing that Americans have effectively reinstituted a divine right of wealth that many would have said we abolished two centuries ago.

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