MLK Would Be Ashamed of Us

Rising income inequality is cementing class system: Paul Krugman
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2012 8:56 AM CST
Martin Luther King, Jr., Would Be Ashamed of Us: Paul Krugman
Martin Luther King,Jr. waves to supporters August 28, 1963 from the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington DC during the 'March on Washington.'   (Getty Images)

If Martin Luther King were to see today's America, would he be proud? Paul Krugman thinks not. King dreamed his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Today, we've become "a nation that judges people not by the color of their skin—or at least not as much as in the past—but by the size of their paychecks," Krugman notes in the New York Times. And these days, your parents' paychecks look pretty similar to yours. "Goodbye Jim Crow, hello class system."

And there's a racial side to this growing American class system, explains Krugman: While in the 1960s and 1970s, "the percentage of black households in the top 20% of the income distribution nearly doubled," that growth came to a halt about 1980—when income inequality started to soar. Income inequality is tied to a lack of social mobility, according to the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; by 2035, he suggests, "the economic prospects of children" will mostly mirror the class they entered at birth. Mitt Romney wants to keep this discussion "in quiet rooms." It's time to follow King's example and "refuse to stay quiet," Krugman writes. Click to read his entire column. (More Paul Krugman stories.)

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