Politics and Political Economy

The inequality regime in which we live is the product of political decisions about how to allocate goods, how to organize markets, and how to redistribute the income generated in markets. These decisions reflect the voting behavior of citizens as well as lobbying and other forms of pressure that can be exerted outside the voting process.

Voting and political behavior

Do popular elections take the form of class warfare in which the less privileged classes support redistributive policies and the more privileged classes oppose them? Or have the old class-based politics of the past given way to a new "postmaterial" politics in which voters make decisions based on factors other than their class position? If social class matters as much now as in the past, does it matter in the same way? Is the blue-collar worker still a reliable Democrat and the manager and professional still a reliable Republican?

Politics and institutions

How are the institutions governing the amount and form of inequality (e.g., tax law, unionization laws, Social Security) established? Do those institutions further the interests of ordinary citizens? Or of lobbyists, politicians, and corporations?

"When the rich wage war it is the poor who die." - Jean-Paul Sartre


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