Class Matters: "Two months ago, in his prime-time address from New Orleans, President Bush called upon the nation to 'rise above the legacy of inequality.' He was joking, obviously. The president's congressional allies now propose to cut Medicaid, food stamps, free school lunches and child-care subsides. They do not propose to save money by undoing the tax cuts that have handed an average of $103,000 a year to people making over $1 million.
This is a scandal, and not because every liberal spending program deserves protection. It's a scandal because, whether you support this program or that, inequality is growing poisonous. The meritocratic premise of this country, essential to both its political consensus and its economic success, is starting to ring hollow.
I wish that statement could be dismissed as irresponsible class warfare. But in 1980, the top fifth of families earned 7.7 times as much as the bottom fifth; by 2001, that ratio had risen to 11.4. So even though the bottom fifth of households made modest gains, the inequality ratio jumped by almost 50 percent. If you measure inequality by wealth rather than earnings, the results are even more preposterous."
If the future of the country depends on having the best and brightest rising up to protect our lives, it seems the worst of aristocracy to suggest that a genetic connection to the wealthiest will result in the best. Meritocracy is not the same as aristocracy.