Confronting inequality

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“Confronting Inequality” (610)

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1) Paul Krugman writes, “Ever since America’s founding, our idea of ourselves has been that of a nation without sharp class distinctions—not a leveled society of perfect equality, but one in which the gap between the economic elite and the typical citizen isn’t an unbridgeable chasm. . . .High inequality, which has turned us into a nation with a much-weakened middle class, has a corrosive effect on social relations and politics” (562). What does Krugman mean by “an unbridgeable chasm”? How might high inequality be bad for social relations and politics

“The Upside of Income Inequality” (581)

5) What is your overall opinion about what Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy, the authors of this text, “The Upside of Inequality?” Do you agree with their views/arguments.

6) Why, according to Becker and Murphy, has income inequality in the US increased significantly since 1980? In what ways do they believe that this change is “beneficial and desirable?”

7) According to the authors, Becker and Murphy, in paragraph 9: “Growth in the education level of the population has been a significant source of rising wages, productivity, and living standards over the past century?” Which groups have benefited from these developments, and which ones have not? What do Becker and Murphy say about what can be done to improve the situation of the less advantaged? Do you agree?

8) Last week you read “Confronting Inequality” by Paul Krugman, and he offered a different perspective on economic inequality (pgs. 561-580). How might he respond to Becker and Murphy’s argument in “The Upside of Inequality” that earnings should be considered “a favorable rather than an unfavorable development?”

“Is the American Dream Over?” (610)

9) So what do you think? Is the American Dream over? Hanging by a thread? Attainable? In a few words what do you think about King’s argument and the claims he makes against the other authors he speaks about?

What do you make of the conversation concerning education, the future and the “American Dream?” Is education worth it? Is there still a notion of the “American Dream”–and if so, what is it (what is the “American Dream”)? Bring in details from the texts you read last week this week to strengthen your argument. You may also comment on issues that are happening to America right now and your own experiences in higher education.*Limit your response to 2-3 paragraphs.

Response papers allow you to engage with the ideas of others. Your purpose in writing a response paper is to critically examine what a particular text says and then to articulate your response by giving your own and other writers’ reasons for agreeing, disagreeing, or both agreeing and disagreeing with the text’s claims.

For this response paper, while keeping in mind your own reaction, please respond to ONE (1) the readings listed in Module 5 OR Module 6 (that’s 6 readings in total).

Your response should be three (3) paragraphs, covering: summary/comparison, analysis/argument and your overall reaction. You can bring in details or quotes from other readings in your response. You may think of this assignment as an informal essay.

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