Income Inequality and Quality of Life Debate: Meet the scholars!

We will be holding our second debate of the year on Income Inequality on April 11th at 3pm in the Grossman School of Business, Keller room Ifshin Hall!

Debating that income inequality has not impacted the quality of life of those at the bottom will be Donald J Boudreaux. Boudreaux is a Senior Fellow for the F.A. Hayek Program for  Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Mercatus Center Board Member, and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. Boudreaux specializes in globalization and trade, law and economics, and antitrust economics. Hear what Boudreaux has said on this issue below!

Read more background information about Boudreaux here.

Watch Boudreaux’s interview about minimum wage, the middle class, taxation and regulation on the Ruben Report.

Read what Boudreaux has to say about income inequality, the middle class and quality of life.

Debating that income inequality has led to stagnation in quality of life of those at the bottom will be Lawrence Mishel. Mishel is distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.and has been there since 1987, serving as president from 2002 to 2017. Mishel’s areas of expertise are education, labor markets, income distribution and poverty, industrial relations, technology and productivity, wages, unions and collective bargaining.

Read more background information about Mishel here.

Conversion Therapy and Free Speech

Last Spring the Janus Forum held a debate about restricting speech on college campuses.  Jonathan Rauch, Contributing Editor at The Atlantic & Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute argued it should. In the debate, Rauch discussed the marketplace of ideas as it relates to progress for the LGBTQ+ community.  However, a recent court decision in Tampa sided with a christian advocacy group in determining that a ban on conversion therapy violates the free speech component of the first amendment– a clear source of tension in the argument made by Rauch.

Here is where you can read the Washington Post article on this subject, and you can find the court decision here.

 If you missed the debate on free speech or need a refresher you can watch it here

You can also read Rauch’s work here.

Unions and Income Inequality

In the debate on income inequality earlier this year, David Madland advocated for unions in arguing that income inequality is a threat to american democracy.  Research done by four economists; Henry Farber, Daniel Herbst and Ilyana Kuziemko of Princeton, and Suresh Naidu of Columbia found that unions are in fact a potential force against growing income inequality.

“While the scholars can’t pinpoint the precise mechanism at work, they speculate that unions have indirectly increased pay at firms nervous that their own employees might organize. Unions have also lobbied for higher minimum wages and pushed to hold down executive salaries. They have also advocated for broader access to health care, countering a key channel through which income inequality can harm all of society.”

Read the NYT article here.
Read the report here.

Interview: Michael Tanner

The Janus Forum at UVM recently held a debate featuring senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Michael Tanner, on the question, “Is Growing Income Inequality a Threat to Our Democracy?” Tanner argued that income inequality is not a threat to our democracy.  Prior to the debate against David Madland, senior fellow at the Center for American Pogress, Tanner was interviewed by a graduate student and volunteer coach from the Lawrence Debate Union, Sarah Anders.  Listen below!

Did you miss the debate? Watch here.

Interview: David Madland

The Janus Forum at UVM recently held a debate featuring senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, David Madland on the question, “Is Growing Income Inequality a Threat to Our Democracy?” Madland argued that income inequality is a threat to our democracy.  Prior to the debate against Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Madland was interviewed by a student from the Lawrence Debate Union, Lilly Oates.  Listen below!

Did you miss the debate? Watch here

Income Inequality and Democracy

The Janus Forum at UVM recently held a debate featuring senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, David Madland and Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute on the question: “Is Growing Income Inequality a Threat to our Democracy?”
Did you miss the event? Watch here

David Madland is the author of the book Hollowed Out: Why the Economy Doesn’t Work without a Strong Middle Class. He has also been featured on television shows such as “PBS NewsHour” and CNN’s “Crossfire” and has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker. Madland’s resarch and work is focused on economic policy, retirement, labor unions, employment, public opinion, economic inequality and the middle class
Read Madland’s full bio here
Read more about his views here

Madland argued that growing income inequality in the U.S is a threat to our democracy. His main points were that,
1. The levels of inequality have dramatically increased: In 1970, CEO’s made 22 times more money than the average worker, now they make 300 times more.
2. There is evidence of special interest tax breaks that disproportionately benefit the very wealthy, hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than secretaries. This has only gotten worse, by a lot, in recent years despite there being consensus and push for tax reform.
3. Wall Street bailout had no strings attached, corruption convictions have quadrupled while at the same time, things the public wants haven’t received funding- investment in infrastructure, higher education, increase in minimum wage,
4. Polls of what the public says compared to what politicians actually do show that they lean towards what higher income people want, not everyone else, especially when it’s in direct conflict with the interests of the wealthy.
5. Public perception of corruption in Government has increased drastically.
6. The direct ways income inequality infiltrate the political system is through campaign contributions, lobbying, and what politicians do on a daily basis, try to raise money and talk to wealthy people rather than talk to their constituents.
7. Income inequality makes us less civic in the way it pulls us apart and makes us feel different, live different lives, interact less, think they are different and become less trusting. This increases polarization, the rise in income inequality correlates to the rise in polarization.
8. When we are less participatory, we are less likely to join together in organizations. We then vote less and feel less connected and powerless, less engaged.

Michael Tanner is an author of many books and has been featured in almost every major American newspaper and is frequently featured on network and cable news programs.His research and work is focused on poverty and social welfare policy, health care reform, and Social Security.
Read Tanner’s full bio here
Read more about his views here

Tanner argued that income inequality is not a threat to our democracy, His main points were that,
1. We are overstating the problem of income inequality, pretax and pretransfer income, doesn’t reflect government redistribution to low income people. This consideration closes the gap significantly, then when considering how much income they actually have to spend that shrinks it even more.
2. Inheritance is not a big part of wealth, top wealthy, large majority are “self made”,3% have from inheritance. Money is not passing through generations, the top 400 richest people are not from the dynasty families, family fortunes are often gone by the third generation.
3. The top wealthiest are not all on Wall St, a third are in business and 10-12% are medical professionals and in finance. The top wealthiest got wealthy from giving us things we want.
4. Inequality doesn’t matter, poverty is much more important, more inequality does not equal more poverty. If we were to double everyone’s income, so many people would be raised out of poverty. The recession made the rich lose millions, but it wasn’t good for the poor. It is better to be unequally rich than equally poor.
5. We have experienced upward mobility and that is what matters. There is huge income inequality in China but many have been lifted out of poverty. Poverty has declined even though inequality has increased.
6. The rich don’t all share the same political ideas, there are ones who give a lot of money to politics but they balance each other out.
7. Labor unions and organizations like the NRA also give a lot, it’s not rich businesses protecting themselves, money in politics is based on interests and beliefs.
8. The rich are just part of process and the process should be open to everybody without knocking them down, the goal is more participation
9. Why should we give more power to government if government is a tool for rich to have power over the poor?

Lawrence Debate Union Public Debate: Is Income Inequality so Great that we can no longer be a Free and Fair Democracy?

The Lawrence Debate Union at UVM recently had a debate on the question, “Is Income Inequality so Great that We can no Longer be a Free and Fair Democracy?”

Here are some highlights from the debate:

“If income inequality were to disappear, the structural problems of access would not because they often are around the lines of identity-race, gender, sexuality, etc.” -Gillian Tiley

“When a candidate can only be elected with a vast amount of money, those who are supposed to represent and run for all of us are most beholden to those with money because they are the only reason they succeed.” -Miranda Zigler

Did you miss the debate? Want to hear what members of the Lawrence Debate Union had to say? Watch what happened here.

Student Opinion: Gillian Tiley

We’ve heard from Hannah on why income inequality does harm democracy, but last Thursday we heard from both sides. Gillian Tiley, a senior at UVM and member of the Lawrence Debate Union, was on the side defending that income inequality is not a threat to democracy.

Here is what she had to say about the debate before it happened!

“Side opposition seeks to contextualize how income inequality interacts with democratic participation, both in examining the 2016 election as well as current political practices. Our discussion will consider the validity of the rust belt vote in electing President Trump, the positive benefits of wealthy liberal elites, the necessity of wealthy individuals for funding organizations that expand access and resources to marginalized populations and the very important notion that inequality exists in all forms, not just in terms of wealth—a world without income inequality is still a world with uneven access to democratic representation.”

Stay tuned for video coverage of the event!

Student Opinion: Hannah Lefevre on why Income Inequality is a Threat to our Democracy

Hannah Lefevre, a sophomore and member of the Lawrence Debate Union at UVM, shares her thoughts on whether Income Inequality is a threat to our democracy below!

“Growing income inequality is a threat to our democracy because it inhibits those facing income inequality from experiencing the same privileges that those who are financially stable are able to experience. This allows for the class divide between the rich and the poor, as well as the rich and the middle class to increase and puts more power in the hands of those who have the privilege to experience that power. This then translates to the upper class having more say in government decisions because they are the ones who end up holding positions of power in congress and they are the ones who have the most accessibility to voting resources. These voting resources include transportation to polls that are typically located in suburban neighborhoods or other locations that aren’t as accessible.”

Like what Hannah had to say? Here are some related articles to income inequality, voting access and representation!

The Atlantic: Why Are the Poor and Minorities Less Likely to Vote

Class Bias in Voter Turnout, Representation, and Income Inequality