Must-read: Philip Delves Broughton: “US voters rage against potholed roads and poisoned water”

Must-Read: Philip Delves Broughton: US voters rage against potholed roads and poisoned water: “Remember Thomas Piketty?…

…That Don Quixote of capitalism, the French economist who rode out of Paris in 2013 to assail rising inequality in the western world? The response among the Davos class was to look interested and raise vague doubts about his calculations. But this election season in the US is starting to look like Mr Piketty’s revenge. Inequality in all its guises has become the driving theme for the leading candidates of both parties, and it is confounding the Democratic and Republican establishments. When they hear Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’, with its strong message about racism in America, it is not that they do not recognise the tune. They do not even recognise it as music….

The sorry tale of the water supply in Flint, Michigan…. Prevention would have cost $100 a day, which seemed too much to those in power. As a result, hundreds of children were exposed to lead poisoning, with potentially life-long consequences. Would such a crisis have been allowed to happen in Greenwich, Connecticut, or Palo Alto, California? And if it had, would the response have been different? To borrow from Sarah Palin: you betcha…. What is fuelling the anger in this election season is a sense of social tragedy, of which decrepit bridges, potholed roads and poisoned water are the evidence. The word infrastructure causes panic among deficit hawks…. This is part of the reason why President Barack Obama’s latest efforts to raise money for infrastructure through a tax on crude oil are unlikely to succeed. But if you use America’s roads, airports or public transportation systems, you quickly see the problem….

Hillary Clinton has not made many great decisions in this campaign, but going to Flint was a good one. The candidate who makes the link between investing in American infrastructure and reducing inequality is going to win a lot of votes.

February 25, 2016


Brad DeLong
Connect with us!

Explore the Equitable Growth network of experts around the country and get answers to today's most pressing questions!

Get in Touch