By nature of the construct and self-reinforcing behavior of a small circle of American families and their enterprises—particularly over the past century since financial capitalism replaced productive capitalism as the means to expand power, wealth and influence—a comparative handful of families and their connections run Wall Street and Washington collectively. They run America as two sides of one political-financial coin, not as divided factions but as co-influencers of policy through public and private office.
There have been times during the past century when the specific individuals commanding this joint effort paid credence to the public interest, or were imbued with more humility. During those times, levels of inequality happened to decrease. At other times, the power elite solely promoted private gain, as from WWI through the crash of 1929, and since the 1970s, particularly since the 2008 crisis. At those times, inequality happened to grow. This is not to imply that the moods of the elite were the sole arbiters of the direction of inequality, but that whatever the direction of these levels, general economic health is more dependent on the actions of this long-term, tightknit and concentrated few than on the ideal of a democracy. In this environment of such power inequality, economic inequality is unavoidable—and unsolvable.”
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“ And as I’ve documented at great lengths in the book, and many other political scientists and historians have as well, the get tough movement and the war on drugs really is traceable to a backlash against the gains of African-Americans in the Civil Rights movement and a radical shift in mentality that occurred where as a nation we ended the war on poverty and declared the war on drugs. A wave of punitiveness really swept the nation on the heels of the Civil Rights movement. And this attitude— has infected not only our criminal justice system but our education system that now has a zero tolerance policy for school discipline infractions. And has led to this prison building boom unlike anything the world has ever seen. ”