How the Other Fifth Lives

Thomas B. Edsall | April 27 | The New York Times

For years now, people have been talking about the insulated world of the top 1 percent of Americans, but the top 20 percent of the income distribution is also steadily separating itself — by geography and by education as well as by income.

This self-segregation of a privileged fifth of the population is changing the American social order and the American political system, creating a self-perpetuating class at the top, which is ever more difficult to break into.

The accompanying chart, taken from “The Continuing Increase in Income Segregation,” a March 2016 paper by Sean F. Reardon, a professor of education at Stanford, and Kendra Bischoff, a professor of sociology at Cornell, demonstrates the accelerating geographic isolation of the well-to-do — the upper middle and upper classes (a pattern of isolation that also applies to the poor, with devastating effect).


[Comment: This would be a good demonstration of why I find single-minded focus on the 1% to be quite unproductive. Are those dynamics worthy of scrutiny? Certainly. The challenge is said scrutiny doesn’t go nearly far enough, for fear, I think, of confronting just how much one’s own position is founded on perquisites – much like the profound reluctance of the otherwise politically progressive / liberal etc. critique to look at challenges through an explicitly intergenerational lens. Pity – my experience has been that the best, most searching scrutiny is done in a mirror – not through a window. ~ JPD]

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If arrogant means not the dumbest motherfucker in the room, then I guess I'm arrogant (though sometimes I wonder).

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  • The reason that millions of Americans have had their standard of living hammered for forty years, while the most affluent twenty per cent have become even more affluent, is no mystery. What happened was that corporate interests in this country, aided and abetted by a bipartisan consensus in government and cheered on by the great majority of the salary class, stripped the US economy of living wage jobs by offshoring most of America’s industrial economy, on the one hand, and flooding the domestic job market with millions of legal and illegal immigrants on the other.

    h/t Archdruid Report

    • Nope. Income segregation is increasing at every point on the income continuum. It is much, much larger than can be blamed on forces safely “they” but is instead the product of a very broad range of policies and regulations – in short, this is principally something that we are doing to ourselves.

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