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Luck, Chance, and Taxes

Luck has more to do with economic success than Americans like to believe. Robert Frank’s new book challenges us to reckon honestly with fortune, and what it means for social policy.

Economic Mobility is a Male Problem

If you separate out men from women, women in America are roughly as upwardly mobile as women anywhere else in the world. It’s only when you add men back in and compare the whole US population to populations abroad that things look bleak. Declining economic mobility looks less like an American problem than an American male problem. But men’s gradual slide into poverty, crime, and social isolation has been largely met with silence.

Obama Flubs Inequality Message

President Obama’s address yesterday on inequality was a concerted effort to shift the conversation away from Obamacare, at least until the implementation is far enough along to be repeal-proof. Whether or not it succeeds, the speech is another sign that ideological arguments over the causes of social immobility are heating up. Whichever narrative wins over an increasingly attentive public is likely to influence policies ranging from tax code reform to social welfare spending, so it’s worth parsing Obama’s version carefully.

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