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confronting inequality paul krugman

Summarizing “Confronting Inequality” & “The American Dream: Dead, Alive or on Hold?”

Income inequality is a rapidly growing issue in America. With the rich sitting at the top 1% and the other 99% of the United States population at the bottom, there’s a clear split separating the wealthy from the poor. Not knowing how to fix the issue, politicians debate over the one main “solution” readily discussed at hand, taxes. The two conclusions are to have either, the rich pay higher taxes to make up for the poor or have everyone pay the same amount of taxes regardless of their income. Authors Paul Krugman and Brandon King state their opinions on the issue at hand in the articles “Confronting Inequality” and “The American Dream: Dead, Alive or on hold?”.

“Confronting Inequality” by Paul Krugman is a short piece discussing his opinion on the growing income inequality in America. Krugman brings up many issues, but the one he’s most focused on is the income gap between the 1% upper class and the rest of the 99% population. In one of his arguments, he talks about how the rich tend to get more than the poor without doing anything but having wealthy parents and how it’s unfair to those 99% who are trying to make a living. If you are brought up in a poor household, Krugman argues, you will be much less likely to succeed. He thinks the government should intervene by making the 1% by pay higher taxes resulting in the lower class ‘blending in’ more so with the upper class. Krugman has a tendency to talk more about a ‘Utopia’ type of living, giving examples of how great the country would be if the American government put this taxation into action. Not wanting the rich to rule the poor, Krugman fights for his voice wanting to shrink the income gap and give everyone a fair shot at achieving their goals.

The article, “The American Dream: Dead, Alive or on Hold?” by Brandon King argues that despite the majority of people’s thoughts, the ‘American Dream’ is not in fact dead but actually it’s stronger than ever. Although the Great Recession has since damaged Americans’ ideal dream of being ‘successful’ he argues that the idea of ‘success’ has changed over time as well: people are no longer defining success as owning luxury materials but instead as getting a steady job and having a happy life. Agreeing with the naysayers that the income inequality is too high, King defends his argument by advocating that raising taxes wouldn’t in fact benefit the lower class but instead hurt it in the long run. If the rich have to pay more on taxes then they will tend to pay less on leisure items which would damage the economy as a whole. By not caring what anyone else thinks, King believes that Americans are doing just fine at finding success for themselves overall.

Both authors, Krugman and King agree that there is a concerning all time high in the income inequality gap. Krugman believes that the government needs to raise taxes on the wealthy and lower them for the poor so that the poor have a higher chance for ‘success’ whereas King believes that raising taxes on the wealthy won’t help anyone but rather damage the economy as a whole. Also, King states in his article that success isn’t only defined by wealth but rather happiness. The American Dream is stronger than ever, it has just morphed into something new. So, although both authors agree that there needs to be a change with the income inequality gap, they disagree on how that change needs to be made.

King points out more credible examples for me to believe than Krugman does. Krugman has a tendency to be more hypothetical, only using one fact from 1970, and backing it up with an ‘if’ statement. He also tends not to look at the naysayers’ side of things compared to King. In King’s piece he discusses a point that Krugman himself said in “Confronting Inequality” pointing out, “Krugman believes that the American Dream is no longer possible for most Americans, and that the government should enact policies to close the income gap”(King, 612). He then further responds to Krugman’s argument by stating, “The American Dream, however, is based on perception, on the way someone imagines how to be successful”(King, 613). King’s main argument throughout his whole piece is that Americans are able and are willing to create their own versions of success, money no longer defines people’s happiness. On the other hand, Krugman makes a strong argument overall like stated above, defending the poor by raising taxes on the rich. Krugman backs up his argument by sharing his mathematical theory, “Today the top 0.1 percent of Americans, a class with a minimum income of about $1.3 million, receives more than 7 percent of all income… A surtax on that income would yield a significant amount of revenue, which could be used to help a lot of people”(572). His theory hasn’t ever been successfully tested but I do believe if it could happen, it’d be a great turning point in America’s future. So in the end, King’s argument contains more factual evidence than Krugman, but Krugman does offer some interesting input on what the future America could potentially look like.

Overall, I do tend to side more with Krugman. I myself believe that the wealthier portion of the population should be doing more to benefit the poor. Coming from a poor background I see the unhealthy divide between those who ‘have it all’ and those who don’t on a daily basis. If we, as in the American government, were to raise taxes on the rich, it’d give financial relief to those less fortunate so that they’d be able to stress less about taxes and have an opportunity to crawl out of poverty by putting their money into something more beneficial instead of throwing it all into tax season. People such as King argue that raising taxes on the rich would result in lowering spending on luxury items, damaging the economy in the long run. I would counter argue that if someone has enough money to have a higher tax in the first place, then they have enough money to continue buying leisure items at their will, a small tax wouldn’t change that. If the United States took on Krugman’s plan and succeeded in achieving it, then the country could potentially turn into a place filled with less poverty, better education and overall make life easier on the middle/lower classes who make up 99% of the population.

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