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The Politics and Economics of Inequality: A Lecture to the Top One-Tenth of 1 Percent (Video)

Posted on Jul 5, 2014

By Robert Reich

         
This post originally ran on Robert Reich’s Web page.

Here’s the Aspen Lecture I gave recently at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival. The irony of talking about inequality with an audience composed almost entirely of the richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans was not lost on me. When I suggested that we return to the 70 percent income-tax rate on top incomes that prevailed before 1981, many looked as if I had punched them in the gut.

But I stressed it’s not a zero-sum game, and they’d do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy — growing because the vast middle class and the poor had the purchasing power to get the economy back on track — than they’re doing with a large share of an economy that’s barely growing at all.

It’s crucial that America’s most powerful and privileged understand what’s happening, and why they must support fundamental reform.

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