A widening wealth gap isn’t good for democracy. Yet inequality has been on the rise for decades in the United States. So what does that tell us about the state of the republic?
“We see no one looking to the United States for leadership,” Atlantic staff writer George Packer said on today’s show. “That’s because we are no longer regarded as an example of a democratic power.”
In recent months, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated disparities between the rich and poor, exposing some of American society’s chronic ills. Packer says that for decades, inequality had led to rising mistrust in the system and in our leaders: “It’s a dangerous, volatile state of affairs.” Moreover, it’s a threat to national security.
On today’s show, our guest walks us through some historical examples of when stark inequities led to revolution and reform — and boils down everything from the New Deal to collard greens. Plus we’ll talk about information and misinformation, and we’ll hear from listeners about online speech, offline consequences and, of course, quarantine snacks. (Feed me, Seymour!)
When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “Make me smart” for our daily explainers, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! Here’s the latest issue.
Here’s a list of everything we talked about today:
- Packer’s recent piece in the Atlantic: “We Are Living in a Failed State“
- “Can inequality only be fixed by war, revolution or plague?” a book excerpt in the Economist
- “Hateful and Conspiratorial Groups on Facebook” from the ADL blog
- “What would it take to moderate a platform as big as Facebook?” from Marketplace Tech
- “The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free” from Current Affairs
- “Lebanon’s foreign minister steps down amid crippling economic crisis” from France 24
- “The Lebanese economy in freefall – a photo essay” from the Guardian
None of us is as smart as all of us.
No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.
It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.