Thursday, October 31, 2019

Racism Is a Lazy Explanation for a Complex Political Phenomenon

Trying to understand the rise of Trump and, in particular, the surge of white working class voters to his banner is a challenge. It is understandable that appalled observers reach for simple explanations that cleanly separate the righteous from those who have strayed into the paths of wickedness. But that doesn't make these simple explanations right, merely understandable as reactions.
David Leonhardt had an excellent column last week that makes this point well.
"Many progressives believe that economic anxiety had little to do with President Trump’s 2016 victory. You can read any number of articles making this case and instead asserting that racism was the reason that a lot of white, working-class voters switched to the Republican side.
I’m skeptical that the story is so simple. I understand why it’s alluring to progressives: Trump is a terrible president, and a race-based explanation for his victory makes his supporters seem less sympathetic than an economics-based explanation. But I don’t think the facts are consistent with the idea that economics were largely irrelevant.
For one thing, the same white working-class voters — the ones who are supposed to be irredeemably bigoted — voted in substantial numbers for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. And even though Trump again stoked racism in the 2018 midterms, many voters flipped back to the Democratic column.
Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, has just released a paper laying out an explanation I find more sensible: Racial resentment and economic anxiety both played key roles, and they fed off each other."
Leonhardt goes on to rehearse some of the findings and analysis from Cherlin's paper. Leonhardt does a good job of summarizing but I strongly recommend reading the actual paper in its entirety. It is excellent. Cherlin's paper is organized around a study of two communities, Dundalk, Maryland, a historically white community, and Turner Station, an adjacent, historically black community that, in the past, were heavily dependent on the Sparrows Point Bethlehem Steel plant. He begins the paper as follows:
"The conventional wisdom is that working-class whites supported Trump because of the threat they felt from African Americans and immigrants. Economic factors, it is said, were secondary. But in Dundalk, the long-term decline of well-paying industrial jobs is an important part of the story. To be sure, whites in Dundalk tend to racialize their economic anxieties, but racial issues and the industrial decline are so bound together that it is virtually impossible to separate them into two independent components. The former editor of the local weekly paper, himself a blue-collar worker before becoming a journalist, said:
"If you feel like you’ve got a place in the society around you and your own situation is not tottering on the brink, you’re secure enough to open the door to other people, literally and figuratively. On the other hand, if you’re fearful, desperate, alienated, you start looking for ways to be suspicious of other people."
A former steelworker said, regarding the hostility some people in the community feel towards immigrants:
"When you struggle financially, you don’t have that type of support system. You look for someone to blame. In our world, we’re the hero. We’re not going to be the bad guy, so we’re going to find someone else around to blame it on. If they look like us, that’s harder to accept. I think it’s easy to look out and see somebody that looks different than you and think they’re the problem. Then, when that’s backed up by some politician with an agenda, you feel justified."
Why, then, have several national statistical studies claimed that race was more important than economics? In part because they have under-conceptualized what economics means in these communities: They have largely focused on short-term measures such as current income and employment rather than the long-term decline of the kind of labor that provided people with a sense of pride and dignity. As predictive models (i.e., who supported Trump?), the statistical studies are defensible, but as explanatory models (i.e., what underlies the support for Trump?), they are deficient. Race and economics have been intertwined in these communities for as long as the steel plant operated, and they continue to be intertwined today."
This is a critical point. Prediction is not the same as explanation. This distinction has eluded most of the political science studies on this issue and certainly the many pundits and activists who rely on these studies. Cherlin devotes considerable space in his paper to going over these studies and cataloging their deficiencies in this regard. He accurately describes these studies (I have read all of them) and the assumptions embedded within them.
"The explanation that most observers give for the working class’s embrace of Trump is variously called “identity politics” or “status threat” – a fear of losing ground to blacks and Hispanics – or just plain racism and anti-immigrant fervor. Economic issues, according to this line of reasoning, had little to do with the shift. “After all,” wrote Paul Krugman in the New York Times, “studies of the 2016 election clearly show that racial resentment, not ‘economic anxiety,’ was what put Trump over the top” (Krugman, 2018, Sept. 24). Also writing in the Times, Timothy Egan stated, “In truth, economics will probably not move Trump supporters. Their vote for him was more about status anxiety in a changing nation than about financial uncertainty” (Egan, 2018, Sept. 14). Writing is Vox, German Lopez concluded, “The past year of research has made it very clear: Trump won because of racial resentment” (Lopez, 2017, Dec. 15).
The evidence for these claims is based on academic studies which show that white people’s attitudes toward minority groups were a better predictor of how they voted in 2016 than were their incomes. A number of articles take the form of statistical analyses in which measures of racial attitudes, views of immigrants, or fears of displacement are pitted against measures of economic status, and the former group is found to be more strongly related to voting for Trump than is the latter. The racial measures tap attitudes such as whether respondents believe that whites are discriminated against or whether they think it should be harder for foreigners to immigrate to the U.S. (Sides, Tesler, & Vavreck, 2018). The economic measures tend to be indicators of current or recent financial status such as whether household income has changed or whether the respondent has started looking for work (Mutz, 2018b; Schaffner, MacWilliams, & Nteta, 2018), or whether the respondent reports being in poor financial shape (Cox, Lienesch, & Jones, 2017). Another frequently-cited study concludes that economic distress is not strongly related to the Trump phenomenon because, although his supporters have less education, they have relatively high incomes (Rothwell & Diego-Rosell, 2016).
For Mutz (2018b), the basic reason for the increase in support for Trump is the “dominant group status threat” that many whites feel: The threat to their status as the dominant group has increased because they may lose their position as the majority race in the U.S. population. They also feel threatened, she maintains, by the progress of African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Mutz looks at changes in attitudes and in economic circumstances as determinants of change in support for Republicans among a national sample of Americans who were interviewed in 2012 and reinterviewed in 2016. One of her two main measures of status threat is a scale based on responses to questions about social dominance orientation (Ho et al., 2015), such as “An ideal society requires some groups to be on top and others to be on the bottom.” For the other measure of status threat, she uses a scale composed of views on international trade. Opposition to international trade with nations such as China, she argues, reflects, in part, opposition to doing business with countries that are racially different. She finds that changes over time in a person’s attitudes toward social dominance, as well as changes in attitudes toward international trade and China, predicted movement toward support for Republicans, whereas changes in a person’s economic circumstances did not.
Morgan (2018b) reanalyzed the data used in the Mutz article an argued that the results are not strong enough to conclude that the effects of the status threat variables are more important than the effects of the economic variables. He concluded:
"Material interests and her measure of status threat are sufficiently entangled among white voters, especially those in the working class, that it is impossible with her data to estimate their relative importance with any clarity (p. 12).".....
"The problem with trying to separate economic concerns from racially-based identity politics and to determine which is more important runs deeper than debates over statistical modeling. In the studies I have reviewed, and in much of the commentary on racially-based status threat, “economics” is under-conceptualized. Most of the measures used in the empirical analyses have centered on contemporary measures of wages, employment, macroeconomic conditions, and so forth. Without doubt, these are valuable indicators, especially if the aim of the analysis is to predict who supported Republicans or who voted for Trump. Sides et al. (2018), in proposing their “identity crisis” thesis, acknowledge and defend the limitations of their focus on the near term:
"It may seem myopic to focus on short term economic trends, given the longer-term trends toward income inequality. But the impact of inequality on U.S. election outcomes has been ambiguous . . . Less ambiguous, however, is the impact of short-term economic trends, which are strongly related to presidential election outcomes and do help explain oscillating party control” (p. 16).
If the purpose of a study, in other words, is to predict how people will vote in an election, which is the outcome on which the authors are focusing, short-term measures are good predictors. Therefore, as predictive models, statistical analyses of this sort are defensible. As explanatory models, however, they are deficient. There are important long-term [economic] phenomena that can help us to understand why the election outcomes occurred."
Again, explanation vs. prediction. Cherlin concludes his discussion of the white working class population of Dundalk and their movement toward Trump as follows:
"When people in Dundalk are struggling economically, as [newspaper editor] Chuck says, they tend to racialize their anxieties. They talk about economic issues not in the upper-middle-class language of the unemployment rate and the gross national product, but rather in more personal, racial and ethnic terms. They retreat behind their identities and “look for someone to blame,” someone who looks different from them. Racism, the editor argues, is not the driving force. Rather, it’s their desperation about the loss of a way of life, the disappearance of work that gave then pride and dignity, and their sense that no one is paying attention to them. Enter Trump, the politician with an agenda. He listened to the people in places like Dundalk when no one else did. His masterstroke was to recognize the desperation of the white working class over the deteriorating industrial economy and to encourage their tendency to racialize that desperation. Neither economics nor identity politics can be said to be the more important factor. Perhaps one without the other – economics in a setting where no one racialized it, or racial prejudice at a time of economic prosperity – would not have brought about the same result. Together, they were tinder for the bonfire that resulted. And Trump was the match."
Granted this is a more complex story than the simple racism and "status anxiety" story but I believe that it is also more correct and far more likely to lead the left to productive politics than the simple one.
About this website
A visit to a community near Baltimore.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Could Arizona Be the Key to the 2020 Election?

Bill Galston thinks so in his analysis of the electoral landscape based on (what else?) my new report.
"Mr. Trump is in trouble in two of the states he narrowly dislodged from the Blue Wall in 2016. His job approval rating stands at minus-7 in Michigan and minus-10 in Pennsylvania. In Michigan last fall, Democrats easily won senatorial and gubernatorial races, flipped two House seats and carried the House popular vote by 8 points. In Pennsylvania, the incumbent Democratic governor and senator were re-elected by double-digit margins, and Democrats increased their House delegation by three seats while winning the House popular vote by 10 points. In both states, the shrinking share of noncollege white voters will make Mr. Trump’s climb steeper.....
[A]lthough Mr. Trump is doing reasonably well in Wisconsin, the third Blue Wall state he carried in 2016, he is in danger of losing Arizona, a traditionally Republican state. Mr. Trump’s job approval stands at 47% in Wisconsin, for an overall rating of minus-3, compared with 45% and minus-8 in Arizona. In troubling signs for Republicans, Arizona sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2018 for the first time in 30 years, and white noncollege voters’ share of the 2020 Arizona electorate is projected to decline by nearly 3 points from 2016.
Arizona could prove crucial next year. To reach 270 electoral votes, the Democratic presidential nominee needs to improve on Hillary Clinton’s performance by at least 38 electoral votes. Victories in Pennsylvania and Michigan would leave the Democrats two votes short, and Arizona’s 11 electoral votes could fill the gap if Mr. Trump prevails again in Wisconsin and Iowa. (Messrs. Teixeira and Halpin suggest Democrats’ prospects in Georgia and North Carolina are not as promising as in Arizona.)"
A little more detail on Arizona. Arizona has a substantial nonwhite population though, as with Texas, it is somewhat less represented among actual voters. In 2016, nonwhites made up 27 percent of voters in the state in 2016—17 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian/other race (including Native American) and just 4 percent Black. Hispanics supported Clinton by 36 points, Blacks by 52 points and Asians/other race by 8 points. Arizona’s white college graduates (30 percent of voters) supported Trump only narrowly, by 47-46 percent, while non-college whites, 44 percent of voters, backed him by 27 points, 60-33 percent.
We expect white non-college eligible voters in 2020 to decline by almost 3 points relative to 2016, while white college graduate eligible voters should remain stable. Black eligible voters should also remain roughly stable, while Hispanics should go up over 2 points and Asians/other race by half a point. These changes in the underlying demographic structure of the electorate are enough to knock a point off Trump’s advantage in 2020, even if voting patterns from 2016 remain in force.
Given the narrowness of Trump’s victory in 2016, and the projected deterioration in his margin from demographic change, Trump needs, at minimum, to hold his 2016 levels of support from various demographic groups. His most effective safeguard against losing the state would be to increase his support among his friendliest group, white non-college voters. A 10-point margin shift in his favor among these voters would take his projected advantage in the state up to 7 points, all other voting patterns remaining the same.
For the Democratic candidate, a winning coalition could be assembled in several different ways. A 10-point pro-Democratic margin shift among white college graduates (going from -1 to +9 points) would be enough to generate a half point victory in the state. A 15-point pro-Democratic swing among Hispanics, Asians and those of other race, would be even more effective, taking the victory margin over a point. And a 10-point pro-Democratic margin shift among white non-college voters would take the Democratic candidate’s advantage to just under 2 points. Given that a number of trends seen in 2018 were consistent with these possible changes and that Trump’s margin in 2016 was already so thin, Trump may have difficulty holding on to the state in 2020.
In short, Arizona is an excellent hedge for the Democrats against falling short in Wisconsin. I expect a commensurate level of attention from the Democratic nominee's campaign.
About this website
The Democrats’ most comfortable path to victory runs through Mesa, not Milwaukee.

Monday, October 28, 2019

On the Other Hand, Trump Is Definitely in Serious Trouble, Perhaps Most Importantly with White Noncollege Women

I've said this before and I'll say it again. The key demographic in the 2020 election is likely to be white noncollege women. If Trump loses enough support among this group, he's done.
More evidence for this comes from the latest Democracy Corps/Voter Participation Center survey. This phone/web survey was conducted in what they refer to as the Presidential/Senate battleground, which includes these 17 states, divided into four regions:
Northeast (ME, NH, PA),
Midwest (IA, MI, MN, OH, WI)
South (FL, GA, NC, VA)
West (AZ, CO, NM, NV, TX)
For those keeping score, these are the 15 states I covered in my recent report on The Path to 270 in 2020 plus New Hampshire and Maine.
Even correcting for the perhaps excessive optimism that at times creeps into the memo on the survey, the quantitative findings are impressive and don't strike me as outliers compared to other polls. Both the memo and accompanying slide show are worth looking at but I want to focus here on the striking findings on white noncollege women.
"Trump’s weakened position is led first and foremost by the white working class women who form nearly a quarter of the electorate and over half the white working class. Nationally, it was white working class women and men who shifted the most in the high turnout 2018 mid-terms (13 and 14 points, respectively). It was news when our combined data for the summer of 2019 showed both Biden and Warren bringing the Trump margin down to about 10 points.
But this poll in the presidential and Senate battleground shows both Biden and Warren running even with the white working class women (see chart below)— which would be historic, indeed, wiping out Trump’s 2016 margin of 27 points with them.
Both candidates are losing among white working class men by a stunning 32 points, but that is roughly the same as in 2018. Trump has not regained his 2016 position with the white working class men where he won by 48 points. Here, Democrats have gone from losing by more than 3- to-1 to 2-to-1. There is no evidence that Trump’s attempts to rally the base are working, at least with the men, and indeed, may be pushing the women away."
Trust me. If this pans out, it's big.

Is Trump Doomed? Probably Not

EJ Dionne uses his latest column in the Washington Post to tackle this issue, in the process discussing the implications of my latest report.
"The situation Democrats face is...more treacherous than they might want to believe, given that a flailing Trump seems to be losing the messaging war on impeachment rather badly. Yes, the public seems ready to throw Trump out of office. But will Democrats make that easy or hard?
A report released last week by the Center for American Progress sheds important light on the party’s choices. One of its key findings will cheer Trump’s foes: If every demographic group votes as it did in 2016, Trump will lose the popular vote by an even greater margin than he did last time and fall short in the three states that put him over the top: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Why? Because, write Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, the study’s authors, “the nonwhite share of the eligible electorate will increase by 2 percentage points, almost entirely from increases in the shares of Hispanics, Asians, and voters of other races. That will be balanced by a commensurate decrease in the share of white noncollege eligible voters.”
But Democrats should not think that victory is already in the bank. The electoral college decides who is president, and Teixeira and Halpin note that these demographic shifts alone would produce only very narrow margins in the three key states. If Democrats fail to convert some of Trump’s voters or increase turnout among the faithful, the party’s candidate would still be at risk.
“Whoever the Democratic nominee is,” Teixeira said in an interview, “he or she must do two things above all: reach out to the white working class and increase black turnout.”....
As for Trump, Teixeira sees his most promising path to reelection as “increasing his share of the white ­working-class vote and also increasing turnout in this group,” while holding down his losses among the white ­college-educated.
So if Trump’s approach to impeachment seems undisciplined, its main purpose is to incite rage, energy and thus turnout among those who put him in the White House in the first place — Republican base voters plus white working-class swing voters. “Is his strategy working?” Teixeira asked. “Probably not. But there may be method in his madness.”
Which is why Trump’s madness will continue. Democrats cannot afford to assume that this alone will doom him."
No they cannot. And if they do, they may well live to regret their complacency.

About this website
His reelection will hinge on the electoral college.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Trump Has No Room for Error

Ron Brownstein has just published an excellent analysis on the Atlantic site based on my new Path to 270 in 2020 report. If you can't read my report, at least read this article! Brownstein:
"The risk in Donald Trump’s base-first electoral strategy is only rising—because the size of his base is shrinking.
Working-class whites are on track to continue declining as a share of eligible voters in 2020, according to a study released today by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. In turn, two groups much more resistant to Trump will keep growing: Nonwhite voters will swell substantially, while college-educated white voters will modestly increase.
These shifts in the electorate’s composition may seem small, but they could have big implications next year. The report projects that these demographic changes alone could provide Democrats a slim Electoral College majority by reversing Trump’s narrow victories in the three blue-wall states that keyed his 2016 victory: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Indeed, the shifts could be enough to narrowly tip these states back toward the Democrats even if college- and non-college-educated whites and minorities behave exactly as they did in 2016—if their turnout rates stay the same and if they split their votes between Trump and the Democratic nominee in exactly the same proportions as they did then.
And, if all other voting patterns hold equal, these changes alone could add another percentage point to the Democratic nominee’s margin of victory in the national popular vote, giving that candidate an advantage over Trump of more than 3 points. All told, the study, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, underscores how narrow a pathway the president is following headed into 2020.
If Democrats “are relying on demographic change to win, you are praying nothing else will change, and you are hoping to squeak out a victory by the tiniest margins,” Teixeira says. But it is a “bonus” for Democrats, he explains: “Even if [Trump] accomplished exactly what he did in 2016, he would probably lose the election. So he not only has to do that; he has to try to do more.”....
Given the resistance Trump has faced from minorities and college-educated whites, especially women, the report’s findings highlight how much he will depend next year on maximizing both turnout and his margins among white voters without a college degree. Yet both goals could prove challenging. Though Trump remains extremely popular with non-college-educated white men, an array of polls shows him suffering erosion among white women without a college degree, a group that notably moved away from the GOP in 2018.
And even if Trump, as he’s shown the capacity to do, can further juice turnout among non-college-educated whites, especially outside of urban areas, those gains could be offset by higher engagement among the groups that are growing in the electorate. That’s what happened last year: Working-class whites turned out at elevated levels for the midterms, but that increase was swamped by a spike in participation among college-educated whites and minorities. As a result, blue-collar whites plummeted by 4 percentage points as a share of the total vote compared with the 2014 midterms, according to calculations by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in voting behavior. That’s an unusually large decline.
Something like that could happen again in 2020, Teixeira notes. “They can shrink [more] if everyone else comes out—that is the nature of the beast,” Teixeira says. “This is part and parcel of the challenge that Trump will face. He is utterly dependent on this group, but he can’t really stop their ongoing decline as a share of voters … In a high-turnout election, things may turn out even worse” for them, given the growth among other demographic groups.
The report makes clear that Trump could again manage a narrow Electoral College win, even if he loses the popular vote. (Teixeira believes that the demographic trends virtually ensure he won’t win the most voters overall.) Non-college-educated whites, even after their expected decline, will still represent a much larger share of the total vote in the key Rust Belt battlegrounds than they do nationally. And in many of the Sun Belt battlegrounds, Democrats have struggled to turn out growing minority populations, failed to match their gains elsewhere among college-educated whites, or both. The strong economy might also allow Trump to suppress defections among college-educated white men and possibly make some gains among black and Latino men.
Taken together, these factors could mean, as I wrote on Election Day in 2016, that the Democratic coalition in the Rust Belt again crumbles faster than it coalesces in the Sun Belt, allowing Trump to break through to another win. But the study also pinpoints the inexorable math pressing on Trump’s exclusionary vision for the GOP: His most likely path to a second term will require him to squeeze even bigger advantages out of dwindling groups.
Trump’s incendiary populism has been unable to reverse the tides of demographic change that, like an ocean encroaching on a beach, are diminishing the constituencies most drawn to him. And that unstinting current of change leaves him with even less margin for error in 2020 than in 2016."
About this website
Changes in the electorate are putting the squeeze on the president.

The Path to 270 in 2020: It's Out!

Just published today. All your questions (well, maybe not all) answered about the 2020 election and how Trump can be dethroned or (ugh) get four more years.
From the intro:
"The big question heading into 2020 is whether President Trump and Republicans can repeat this success. Is there a strong and growing Trump coalition that can replicate his successes with base Republicans and party switchers from 2016 and possibly expand to other places with additional voters? Or rather, after three years of the president’s unorthodox brand of leadership—and major midterm gains for Democrats in 2018—will the normal physics of politics bring him and the Republican Party back down to earth, opening the door for Democrats in 2020?
There are many important variables that determine the answers to these questions, ranging from campaign and candidate qualities to evaluations of the president’s tenure to state and national trends shaping voting behavior. One year out from the 2020 contest, many uncertainties still exist in electoral analysis. This report examines the larger context for the election by closely analyzing national and state-level demographic and voting trends to see how these major contours might influence the political strategies of both President Trump and the Democrats.
Questions explored to help frame this analysis include:
* If President Trump merely replicates his voting coalition from 2016, can he realistically expect to win, or are there other demographic and partisan trends that suggest a need to do more than what was done in 2016?
* Can Democrats successfully mobilize their base voters and reach less partisan-aligned voters who may be unsure of both Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee? Do the Democrats have the agenda and message to do both?
* Do national trends tell us much about this particular election, or will the outcome more likely be determined in a handful of states and regions within these states? If the latter, which states will matter the most in tipping the election, and what do both parties need to do to maximize their chances in those states?
* Are there realistic avenues for both demographic and geographic growth for either Trump or Democrats? If so, which voters and states are likely targets for each?
* How will larger-issue debates and fundamentals such as the state of the economy or international events potentially affect the election? What steps should Republicans and Democrats take to shape these debates on favorable terms?
The report will first examine national demographic and voting trends followed by a more detailed look at the most important battleground states. The report will conclude with some observations on what both Republicans and Democrats need to do in 2020 to succeed."
About this website
One year out from the 2020 election, the contours of the eventual vote, both demographically and in the Electoral College, seem clear—but the paths both parties may eventually choose to successfully harness these tangible trends remain in flux.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Path to 270 in 2020!

It's coming out this Thursday from CAP, authored by myself and my colleague John Halpin!
In the report we discuss in detail what the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may, needs to do to put together the requisite 270 EVs, as well as what Trump needs to do to win a second term. Strictly objective and based on hard numbers, we look at the overall national picture and no fewer than 15 potential swing states, breaking down R and D objectives in each state. The states we cover are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, Something for everyone.
So look for it on Thursday. There will also be an Atlantic article by Ron Brownstein covering our report on the same day but I know you're going to want to read the whole thing!
"Our analysis examines how a Democratic candidate and Republican incumbent Donald Trump might fare in terms of demographic and geographic support in 2020. It focuses on the electoral potential of the Democratic coalition using 2016 as a baseline, comparing that with the potential support for Trump in relation to his 2016 performance.
This much is clear: Despite demographic trends that continue to favor the Democrats, and Trump’s unpopularity among wide swathes of the electorate, it will still be difficult for the Democrats to prevail against an incumbent President who has presided over a growing, low-unemployment economy and retains strong loyalty among key sectors of the electorate. Conversely, Trump’s continuously high level of unpopularity does make him unusually vulnerable for an incumbent President. The question then becomes how, given the current political environment and structure of voter inclinations, each side can take advantage of their opportunities and reach 270 EVs.
We begin with a look at the broad 2020 national picture for both the popular vote and, most important, overall Electoral College vote results. We then proceed to a state-by-state breakdown of how a winning electoral vote coalition might be assembled by either side."

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tax the Rich--Especially Their Wealth!

Benjamin Wallace-Wells has an excellent piece up on the New Yorker site on economist Gabriel Zucman, half of the team that wrote the new book The Triumph of Injustice and that advised Elizabeth Warren on her wealth tax proposal. This is very important work and, as the article notes, fundamentally optimistic about what policy can accomplish to tame capitalism. That optimism too too is very important, as I argued in my recent book.
I especially like this conclusion to the article:
“You know,” Zucman said, “when you have the fall of the U.S.S.R., the fall of the Berlin Wall, some people say it’s the triumph of the free-market economy, the end of history, you won’t do better than that. And, especially now, in a globalized, integrated world, there’s no viable progressive platform that’s possible. And the left became discouraged, as it does—you know, ‘This is all a messy failure. It’s game over,’ ” Zucman said. “And now, thirty years later, people are realizing that there are all kinds of contradictions in the way our economies work, and we can do better.” The United States is only four per cent of the global population, he went on, but much of the rest of the world had remade itself in our image thirty years ago, and—if a progressive administration in Washington could implement a wealth tax, and strengthen international co√∂peration for higher corporate tax rates against tax evasion and offshore havens—maybe it would do so again. “You could change the U.S., but you could also change the world,” Zucman said. “Actually, you could be much more radical.”
About this website
After doing more than just about any other economists to describe the powerful effect that accumulated wealth has on global inequality, Gabriel Zucman and his colleagues are now advocating for a solution.