Well, not so much “points out” as “presents strong evidence in favor of it, but doesn’t exactly spell it out for some reason”.
In the first of a series on class in America, we see the ways in which “class is still a powerful force in American life”.
But they also point out the ways it is not:
“For one thing, it is harder to read position in possessions. Factories in China and elsewhere churn out picture-taking cellphones and other luxuries that are now affordable to almost everyone. Federal deregulation has done the same for plane tickets and long-distance phone calls. Banks, more confident about measuring risk, now extend credit to low-income families, so that owning a home or driving a new car is no longer evidence that someone is middle class.
The economic changes making material goods cheaper have forced businesses to seek out new opportunities so that they now market to groups they once ignored. Cruise ships, years ago a symbol of the high life, have become the ocean-going equivalent of the Jersey Shore. BMW produces a cheaper model with the same insignia. Martha Stewart sells chenille jacquard drapery and scallop-embossed ceramic dinnerware at Kmart. ”
At the same time:
” At a time when education matters more than ever, success in school remains linked tightly to class. At a time when the country is increasingly integrated racially, the rich are isolating themselves more and more. At a time of extraordinary advances in medicine, class differences in health and lifespan are wide and appear to be widening. ”
There’s a lot more of this, along with lots of back-and-forth about whether this is an outrage or just something we should live with. But the obvious question – “why are good education and health care be reserved for the rich while other things are not?” – never gets explicitly answered. While they come out and admit that Federal deregulation drove down the price of plane tickets and long-distance phone service, they never draw the obvious conclusion that massive deregulation would also reverse the stark and growing class divide in the ability to obtain quality education and healthcare.
When the “scramble to scoop up a house in the best school district, channel a child into the right preschool program or land the best medical specialist are all part of a quiet contest among social groups that the affluent and educated are winning in a rout”, that is a clear indication of what economists like to call a “shortage”. And where do persistent shortages come from? Price controls, barriers to entry, and other regulations, not from a free market. The proper counterpoint to “the need for better early-education and antipoverty programs to try and redress an imbalance in opportunities” is not “mobility remains quite high, even if it has tailed off a little”, but “the way to redress an imbalance in opportunities is to apply the same medicine that works wonders in redressing an imbalance in the availability of airline travel, cell phones, and computers – i.e., massive deregulation”.
Our friends on the left are correct that there is a serious problem, but not in their preferred solution; we need to offer a solution that actually works, instead of trying to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist in a forlorn hope of stopping them from applying their disastrously poisonous “remedy” – all that such pretense would do is destroy our credibility and drive voters to the solutions from the left as those would be the only ones on offer. And if the solutions that actually work are “politically infeasible” – well, over the long term, so is letting this class divide fester without even an attempt at a solution. As FDR proved, a bad solution is often more popular than no solution, even when it makes things worse. So even “politically infeasible” solutions are worth pushing, since if they don’t fly we’re no worse off than if we’d offered nothing at all but denials of the existence of problems that lots of people can see for themselves.