losing a common reservoir of trust

Robert Reich's book is not just for Boston. It should be an alarm for the entire country, and not a minute too soon. Why should we care about what a candidate for governor of Massachusetts thinks? Why should we care about his call for America to quit making the poor poorer as the rich get richer?

''Should you care? Yes,'' Reich writes. ''After a point, as inequality widened, the bonds that kept our society together would snap. Every decision we tried to arrive at together -- about trade, immigration, education, taxes and social insurance (health, welfare, retirement) -- would be harder to make, because it would have such different consequences for the relatively rich than for the relatively poor. We could no longer draw upon a common reservoir of trust and agreed-upon norms to deal with such differences. We would begin to lose our capacity for democratic governance.''
Unfortunately, I think Reich is too conservative in his estimates. We have already lost that capacity, and the only question now is whether it can be restored.

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Published on August 3, 2002 6:56 PM.

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