And who are these lucky few?

Write a one-sentence summary for the following essay (Make your statements concise but comprehensive Show more Write a one-sentence summary for the following essay (Make your statements concise but comprehensive they should make sense to someone who does not read the article so dont use terms like distortion by dilution unexplained!) Then write your own agree/disagree BUT thesis statement in response to the article or one specific points made in the article. I dont want a simple agree or disagree response I want something more nuanced. For example you may write I agree with this part of Paul Krugmans argument but not this other part I agree with his general idea but I disagree with his specific points/rhetorical strategies or I agree with his argument but not the assumptions it rests on. And write two or three sentences in which you IDENTIFY and RESPOND TO (AGREE/DISAGREE WITH) two or three specific claims or rhetorical strategies that the author makes or uses. These points should support your own thesis statement about these articles. You might be thinking Hey this sounds a lot like what we did with those flow charts. Youre right! You are essentially writing another outline for another paper that you wont have to write (lucky you!). You just dont have to put your points in the boxes this time. The Undeserving Rich By Paul Krugman Published in the New York Times Jan. 19 2014 The reality of rising American inequality is stark. Since the late 1970s real wages for the bottom half of the work force have stagnated or fallen while the incomes of the top 1 percent have nearly quadrupled (and the incomes of the top 0.1 percent have risen even more). While we can and should have a serious debate about what to do about this situation the simple fact American capitalism as currently constituted is undermining the foundations of middle-class society shouldnt be up for argument. But it is of course. Partly this reflects Upton Sinclairs famous dictum: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. But it also I think reflects distaste for the implications of the numbers which seem almost like an open invitation to class warfare or if you prefer a demonstration that class warfare is already underway with the plutocrats on offense. The result has been a determined campaign of statistical obfuscation. At its cruder end this campaign comes close to outright falsification; at its more sophisticated end it involves using fancy footwork to propagate what I think of as the myth of the deserving rich. For an example of de facto falsification one need look no further than a recent column by Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal which first accused President Obama (wrongly) of making a factual error then proceeded to assert that rising inequality was no big deal because everyone has been making big gains. Why incomes for the bottom fifth of the U.S. population have risen 186 percent since 1979! If this sounds wrong to you it should: thats a nominal number not corrected for inflation. You can find the inflation-corrected number in the same Census Bureau table; it shows incomes for the bottom fifth actually falling. Oh and for the record at the time of writing this elementary error had not been corrected on The Journals website. O.K. thats what crude obfuscation looks like. What about the fancier version? Ive noted before that conservatives seem fixated on the notion that poverty is basically the result of character problems among the poor. This may once have had a grain of truth to it but for the past three decades and more the main obstacle facing the poor has been the lack of jobs paying decent wages. But the myth of the undeserving poor persists and so does a counterpart myth that of the deserving rich. The story goes like this: Americas affluent are affluent because they made the right lifestyle choices. They got themselves good educations they got and stayed married and so on. Basically affluence is a reward for adhering to the Victorian virtues. Whats wrong with this story? Even on its own terms it postulates opportunities that dont exist. For example how are children of the poor or even the working class supposed to get a good education in an era of declining support for and sharply rising tuition at public universities? Even social indicators like family stability are to an important extent economic phenomena: nothing takes a toll on family values like lack of employment opportunities. But the main thing about this myth is that it misidentifies the winners from growing inequality. White-collar professionals even if married to each other are only doing O.K. The big winners are a much smaller group. The Occupy movement popularized the concept of the 1 percent which is a good shorthand for the rising elite but if anything includes too many people: most of the gains of the top 1 percent have in fact gone to an even tinier elite the top 0.1 percent. And who are these lucky few? Mainly theyre executives of some kind especially although not only in finance. You can argue about whether these people deserve to be paid so well but one thing is clear: They didnt get where they are simply by being prudent clean and sober. So how can the myth of the deserving rich be sustained? Mainly through a strategy of distortion by dilution. You almost never see apologists for inequality willing to talk about the 1 percent let alone the really big winners. Instead they talk about the top 20 percent or at best the top 5 percent. These may sound like innocent choices but theyre not because they involve lumping in married lawyers with the wolves of Wall Street. The DiCaprio movie of that name by the way is wildly popular with finance types who cheer on the title character another clue to the realities of our new Gilded Age. Again I know that these realities make some people not all of them hired guns for the plutocracy uncomfortable and theyd prefer to paint a different picture. But even if the facts have a well-known populist bias theyre still the facts and they must be faced. Show less

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