It’s easy to overestimate the credit we deserve for our own success.
The soaring stock market has increased U.S. wealth—and inequality.
A poor person looking up at my residence could mistake it for one of the barns belonging to the rich man Jesus talked about—the one who didn't know his soul was buried beneath all that corn and sorghum.
Why was the first Gilded Age a time of sometimes violent resistance, while ours is an age of acquiescence? Steve Fraser's answer is twofold: capitalism has changed, and so has the social imaginary that enfolds it.
Peter Brown considers the fourth-century church's radicality concerning wealth—and its readiness to adapt as circumstances seemed to require.
Sheldon Garon contends that Americans lack moral teaching on wealth, public policies that encourage saving, and a cultural ethos that nurtures thrift.
This week, a former Google executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes so that more people will have the chance to succeed as he has. It was nice to hear the president defend the idea that individual wealth is built in part by collective investment--even if he didn't state it as forcefully as Elizabeth Warren, and even if he mostly avoided the word "taxes" itself.
When I was nine years old I dreamed of being Bobby Feller. I forget about that dream for long stretches, but then something comes back to remind me of it. Recently that something was Tyler Kepner’s profile of Feller in the March 7 New York Times. I learned that at age 88 Feller still suits up every day, and that he is often called a hero because of his World War II service. He responds to this term by saying, "Heroes don’t come home; survivors come home." What good did that baseball dream do? For one thing, it's a bracing alternative to the dream talk that afflicts us now.
Next to the window in my study, where I can’t but see it every day, there’s a framed cartoon from an old edition of the National Lampoon. It’s a spoof of a Medici rose window from the cathedral in Florence, and depicts a laughing camel leaping with ease through the eye of a needle. The superscription reads: “a recurring motif in works commissioned by the wealthier patrons of Renaissance religious art,” while the Latin inscription on the window itself is “Dives Vincet,”or “Wealth Wins!”
Here in the rural upper Midwest, it seems every other person has a pole barn. Usually it’s full of old tires, a trailer, dozens of tools gathering rust, coffee cans loaded with lug nuts and screws. Ed and Edna’s place is pretty typical. Edna's cupboards, bureaus, garage, attic and spare bedroom have been crammed full of things that define her. (“Oh, you know Edna Furbelow,” says her neighbor, “she collected Hummels.”) Now that Edna has died and her husband’s pole barn has finally gotten emptied, everything must go.