Daily Archives: Feb 22, 2020 at 08:05 am EDT

Book Bits | 22 February 2020

The Wolf at the Door: The Menace of Economic Insecurity and How to Fight It
By Michael J. Graetz and Ian Shapiro
Q&A with co-author (Graetz) via Yale News
Q: Why prioritize economic insecurity over economic inequality?
A: There are several reasons. The first is that economic insecurity is rampant in the United States. About 40% of Americans say they couldn’t cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense with cash or a credit card charge they could pay off at the end of the month. Unless this insecurity is addressed, our politics will become increasingly ugly. You’ll see increased polarization and anti-immigration sentiment.
Second, as we learned from Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s critique of conventional economics, the prospect of loss is a more potent political motivator than the prospect of gain. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” was effective because it implies that he would restore something that was taken away. It wasn’t about addressing inequality. He didn’t promise to make people rich or redistribute wealth. In fact, he bragged about his own wealth. Two-thirds of Trump’s primary voters earned above the U.S. median income of $50,000 for a family of four. These are not blue-collar folks, but they fear that they’re losing things. They’re worried about downward mobility — that their kids will be less successful than they are.
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