Amanda Ripley

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Inequality, Broken Marriages & Donald Trump

31st Jan 2017 posted in General

Say what you will about the election results, American voters correctly identified a real problem: the game is rigged in favor of the rich. Workers are not benefiting from progress at nearly the rate that shareholders and executives are benefiting. Capitalism is at war with democracy, and capitalism is winning.

It’s been a slow-motion realization, like a couple discovering that its marriage is broken. The Great Recession was the marital crisis, the vase-smashing domestic dispute that stripped everything bare, making the problem impossible to ignore: the banks and auto companies got bailed out, while the people lost their homes. Then, under the resulting economic strain, companies became ruthlessly efficient, finding ways to create the same profits with fewer employees—like a wife realizing she could get by without her husband’s paycheck after all. Once in place, such efficiencies tend to linger well past the crisis, just like the resentments.

But as any divorce lawyer will tell you, most marriages do not end at the worst of times. No, they end when things get slightly better: the economy improves, unemployment ticks down and there is just enough money in the savings account for a deposit on a rental apartment. And that’s what happened on November 8th.

Millions of voters walked out on the American marriage. They either didn’t vote at all or they voted for the guy who had given the finger to the establishment. Donald Trump had no need for special-interest money; he ignored consultants, focus groups, media elites and every rule of civil discourse and decency.

The problem is that voting for Trump is like having an affair; it may feel good for a while, but it won't fix the marriage.

Next up: The United States used to be more egalitarian than Europe and proudly so. What caused America's rich to get even richer than just about anywhere else?