Monday, December 23, 2013

Centers for the Study of Inequality and Poverty Reduction

“Centers for the Study of Inequality and Poverty Reduction” (CSIPRs) are rapidly proliferating throughout America’s top private and public universities.

Most scholars in these centers point to the stagnation of median incomes while the share of income received by the top quintile, decile, 5%, 1%, 0.1%, and especially for the top 0.01%, has been steadily rising during the past 30 years.

An increasing number of prominent economists blame rising inequality for slow growth and lack of job creation in the advanced industrial economies.  Political scientists warn that rising inequality is increasing the likelihood of conflict within and between countries and regions.

Inequality can be measured in units of individuals, households, within and between communities, between urban/rural areas, between nations, and among global regions.  A frequently propounded solution is the transfer of wealth and income from “haves” to “lesser haves” and “have nots.”  Within communities and nations, this often takes the form of more progressive income taxes, higher wealth taxes, and higher taxes on capital income.  Foreign aid and other transfers from rich to poor countries are standard proposals to redress inequality among nations.

The consensus among professors in CSIPRs is that one solution lies in greater access to quality education.  A small number of elite universities enjoy large endowments and annual gifts which enable them to recruit the best (highly-paid) professors and students.  Meanwhile, the vast majority of community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and massive state-financed universities are strapped for money.  State support is declining and many students cannot afford tuition increases.

To the best of my knowledge, no CSIPR in an elite institution has issued a policy paper recommending that some of its university’s endowment and annual gifts, and some of its faculty’s salaries and benefits, be transferred to less wealthy colleges that face the daunting task of educating the majority of America’s future work force.

CSIPRs recommend redistribution of income and wealth for all except for the centers and professors in them.

It is what it is.  Go figure.

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