Sometimes a thousand well chosen words can change your view of something important. So it was for me with a brief piece in yesterday’s New York Times, “Why Is Income Inequality in America So Pronounced? Consider Education,” by Tyler Cowan. To make a short story even shorter, Cowan cites several serious academic studies that conclude we’ve given far too much weight to outsourcing and the riches of the top 1% as cause of rising wage and wealth inequality. The true culprit, to an overwhelming degree, is the growing chasm between the prospects of those who have (or don’t have) a college degree. It’s almost that simple, and I urge you to read the article.
(NB: The author admits his answer is not for the ages. The growing potency of technology means that even the college sheepskin holders will be under attack fairly soon. But for now that sheepskin matters … a lot.)