Mickey Kaus writes in the Wall Street Journal, The Other Kind of Inequality. (may require a paid subscription to enact link)
Social equality—”equality of respect,” as economist Noah Smith puts it—is harder to measure than money inequality. But the good news is that if social equality is what we’re after, there may be ways to achieve it that don’t involve a doomed crusade to reverse the tides of purely economic inequality. As Reagan’s quote suggests, achieving a rough social equality in the midst of vivid economic contrast has been something America’s historically been good at, at least until recently.
We can, for example, honor the universal virtue of work by making it the prerequisite for government benefits wherever possible. There’s a reason Social Security checks are respectable and politically untouchable—unlike food stamps, they only go to Americans who’ve worked.
We can also pursue social equality directly, through institutions that mix people from all income levels together, under conditions of equal status—institutions like the draft, for example, or national service. Do we remember the 1950s as a halcyon egalitarian era because the rich weren’t rich—or because rich and poor had served together in World War II?
A further note on the widening of social inequality from James Pethokoukis at AEI , Does the end of Cinderella marriages explain the rise in income inequality?
Whenever President Obama rails against income inequality, he offers the usual suspects as playing a major or minor role: the decline of unions, a low minimum wage, tax cuts for the rich, skyrocketing CEO pay, globalization.
But he never blames love. Or, to be more specific, he never blames the growing tendency of marriages to be between people of similar backgrounds. Doctors no longer marry nurses, they marry fellow doctors or others of comparable education level.
Others such as Charles Murray have also written about our reversion to a Victorian Class society where the wealthier socialize much less with the lower income. Noting our WWII military as a great social equalizer is a noted contrast to the Viet Nam era where the wealthier were not only able to exempt service, but chose to do so. Perhaps the greater objection is to a social equality where one is treated as privileged or superior because of wealth or social or political connections. No where is this more true than our nation’s capitol.
Also from Ace of Spades: