David Madland on Income Inequality and Democracy

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David Madland, senior fellow at the Center for American progress advocates for a strong middle class in his piece “Symposium First Principles: Arguing the Economy-Growth and the middle Class”. Madland speaks directly to the question of whether income inequality poses a threat to democracy in the section titled “Good Governance”. Madland makes the claim that income inequality and the consequent shrinking of the middle class increase corruption and reduce efficacy and democracy in Government.

“A strong middle class, as thinkers from Aristotle to James Madison to modern political scientists have noted, fosters better governance by helping ensure government is well-run, increasing citizen participation, minimizing factional fighting, and promoting policies for the benefit of all of society rather than special interests. In contrast, economic inequality and a weak middle class make the political system imbalanced and depress the political participation of the non-wealthy, reducing voting, discussion, and interest in public policy.”

“..economic inequality has a harmful effect on bureaucratic quality, government stability, and democratic accountability. Moreover, actual corruption in government becomes much more common without a strong middle class. In short, a weak middle class hollows out governing practices and institutions, so that the bureaucracy no longer delivers for its citizens.”

Want to read more about Madland’s ideas? Here are the articles he references,