The Politics and Pedagogy of Economic Inequality: A Short Contribution
by James K. Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin
What should be taught? Inequality and power would be a good place to begin, with Adam Smith’s terse remark that “Wealth is power, as Mr. Hobbes says.” We have the Koch brothers, the Murdochs, the corporate media and the political world as brought to us by Citizens United; the business and foundation worlds of Gates, Buffett, Soros and the rest, the banks dominated by JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, the investment banks ruled over by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. These are the great features of wealth and power our time. Education should pose the question: is this structure of income and wealth justified? Can it be justified? Is it consistent with democratic self-government and social justice? Students should know about these things, and they should think about them, so that someday, perhaps, if they deem it necessary, they may work out how to abolish injustice, end the egregious maldistribution of extreme wealth and the concentration of political power, overthrow the oligarchs and restore a semblance of democracy to our republic.