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Did the Poor Cause the Crisis? by Simon Johnson – Project Syndicate

by on February 18, 2011

The evidence on this point is not as definitive as one might like, but what we have – for example, from the work of Princeton University’s Larry Bartels – suggests that over the past 50 years, virtually the entire US political elite has stopped sharing the preferences of low- or middle-income voters. The views of office holders have moved much closer to those commonly found atop the income distribution.

There are various theories regarding why this shift occurred. In our book 13 Bankers, James Kwak and I emphasized a combination of the rising role of campaign contributions, the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, and, most of all, an ideological shift towards the view that finance is good, more finance is better, and unfettered finance is best. There is a clear corollary: the voices and interests of relatively poor people count for little in American politics.

These moves in history tell us about how we might move, or not move, in response to climate. The evidence seems to be that the politicians will game the system, what ever it is, in favor of money. Can sustainability and profit cohabit?

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