“Inequality and its discontents”: Introduction

[On September 22nd I had the honour of giving the 2014 Mabel Timlin Lecture—“Inequality and its Discontents”—at the University of Saskatchewan. This post is the introduction, and the full lecture will be published in the near future.]

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The two (irreconcilable?) states of the Union

sotu_slide_audience

When President Obama approaches the podium to deliver his State of the Union address he will have two past presidents looking over his shoulders.

Lyndon B. Johnson who in 1964 declared a “War on Poverty”, and Ronald Reagan who in 1986 surrendered victory with the claim that “… poverty won the war. Poverty won in part because instead of helping the poor, government programs ruptured the bonds holding poor families together.”

President Obama will surely celebrate Johnson for initiating the War on Poverty fifty years ago this month, but to advance his agenda he will also stress that government programs are a force for the good.

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