Inequality in the New Gilded Age

This is a 10-week seminar, starting on February 21, 2017.

Moderator:                David Entin
Co-moderator:         Dick Stonberg
Day and Time:         Tuesday, 1:30-3:30 PM
Format:                       Seminar
Location:                   Smith College, Dewey Hall Common, Northampton
(parking permit required; provided to participants by moderator)

This seminar will explore the dimensions and impact of the growing inequality of income and wealth in the United States and discuss possible solutions. If this is an issue that concerns you and/or you want to learn more about inequality in the United States, this seminar is for you.

How fair is our society?   Are the fruits of our work and productivity distributed fairly?   How unequal is the distribution of income and wealth in American society?   Does every child have an equal opportunity to succeed?   What does the growing inequality that has been mentioned in the recent Presidential election mean for our society?   How widespread is the impact of inequality in the United States?    How does the US compare to other advanced industrial countries?  Why has inequality grown in recent decades?  How might we promote greater equality in our nation?

The seminar will explore the impact on health care, education, criminal justice, social mobility, family structure, etc. This LIR seminar will address these and other related questions.

Role of participants:
Each participant will select a relevant topic to explore and then share with the seminar.   This will include appropriate research and a 25-35 minute seminar presentation and leading a discussion on the topic.   Some important topics are: definitions of equality, income and wealth inequality, worker and CEO disparities, impact of technology, taxation, media, post-industrial economy, decline of labor movement, consumer protections and debt as well as the societal impact of inequality in a range of areas.

Writing on the subject has grown rapidly in recent years.   To provide a common base of initial knowledge, participants are asked to read  Edward Royce, Poverty and Power: The Problem of Structural Inequality.   In addition, three particularly useful books on the subject are: Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger; Tim Wise, Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America, and Joseph C. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality:  How Today’s Divided Society Endangers our Future.

About the Moderators:
David Entin had careers in anti-poverty work and higher education and researched the topic of inequality for a previous seminar that led to an LIR Encore presentation.  Dick Stonberg had a career in the health food industry and sees the growing inequality as one of the key moral issues of our times.