How can I reconcile what I know about the personhood of employees with the faceless and troubling power that big business wields on Wall Street and Capitol Hill?
Classic political theory says that in countries with high inequality like the United States, the median voter will favor redistribution through progressive taxation. But in the past few decades, income inequality in the United States has soared even as our tax policy has become less progressive.
The Occupy movement that began as a protest against Wall Street has been showing some worrying signs of devolving into a protest against capitalism. We have previously praised the attention drawn by these protests to critical issues of economic inequality and unrestrained financial sector risk-taking, among other things, but we believe this change of course threatens to detract from the group’s original purpose.
Rather than retreating from the public sphere or using their wealth for subsidy, the privileged few should exercise their agency and work to create an education system that brings an appropriate level of public funding to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds
When we think about upward mobility and achieving economic success, we tend to think in terms of meritocratic ideals and individual success. Is a system that takes so much input to get a single positive output the best we can do? More importantly, what does it say about our notions of success when some of the people who helped me climb the social ladder remain trapped at the bottom?
Why are the needs of young people, the struggling masses and minorities deprioritized in American public policy? Because they don’t vote. Why don’t they vote? Because our political institutions are designed specifically to discourage it.
The Occupy protests have accomplished a great deal. They have galvanized many forms of public response to the glaring inequalities of wealth and income that now characterize American society. We are in sympathy with those protests. But it isn’t parks or public spaces we aspire to occupy. It is the future of our country that is at stake and that we hope to help shape — to occupy — through our actions. For this broader Occupy movement to grow, it will require other groups outside encampments to mobilize other constituencies, by other means, around other issues.
Stanford students, and Americans generally, are inculcated with a strong attachment to the notion of meritocracy: that success in some area is distributed based upon merit. Nowhere does this seem more prevalent than in education. We are submitted to examination from our earliest years, and our performance may ultimately decide our class standing, both in school and in society. If our education system is meritocratic, then how do we define merit, and in what context is it expressed? Importantly, how do inequalities define this context?