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Recommended: Thomas Edsall on the persistence of inequality; Vanity Fair talks to Priebus

In “Why Is It So Hard for Democracy to Deal with Inequality?” Edsall tackles a deep and powerful question. And Chris Whipple interviews Reince Priebus about his White House experience.

Here are two great pieces I recommend — but I’ll restrain myself from stealing too many of the facts and arguments they contain and just urge you to click through and read them.

As usual, for me at least, is the weekly Thomas Edsall column in the online New York Times. Headlined: “Why Is It So Hard for Democracy to Deal with Inequality?” Edsall tackles a deep and powerful question.

Elections are about more things than economics. Still, at first glance it’s hard to understand how the wealthy few can manipulate government so effectively to work in their economic interests, which are generally not the same as the interests of the bottom 90 – or even 99! – percent.

Edsall rounds up a number of answers, but I’ll just pass along a list of five possible explanations by the authors of a scholarly article titled  “Why Hasn’t Democracy Slowed Rising Inequality?

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Economic theory, they wrote, holds that “inequality should be at least partially self-correcting in a democracy” as “increased inequality leads the median voter to demand more redistribution.” But in recent decades, wealth has become more and more concentrated at the top. The scholars cited five possible explanations.

“First, growing bipartisan acceptance of the tenets of free market capitalism. Second, immigration and low turnout among the poor resulting in an increasingly affluent median voter. Third, “rising real income and wealth has made a larger fraction of the population less attracted to turning to government for social insurance.” Fourth, the rich escalated their use of money to influence policy through campaign contributions, lobbying and other mechanisms. And finally, the political process has been distorted by polarization and gerrymandering in ways that “reduce the accountability of elected officials to the majority.”

If you mull that over and want to know more, click through to the Edsall column.

My second recommendation is this Vanity Fair piece by Chris Whipple based on his interviews with Reince Priebus, who served as White House chief of staff for the first six months of the Trump administration.

Whipple is working on a book about chiefs of staff, and has interviewed most of the recent ones. Priebus at first insisted on an off-the-record interview, but, for slightly hard-to-imagine reasons, changed his mind and allowed Whipple to quote him. (Whipple also got on-the-record stuff from Steve Bannon.)

Priebus, who said he “still loves” Trump, nonetheless portrays a White House in constant chaos mostly because Trump sows chaos wherever he goes and, when things go agley, blames everyone except himself. When the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act went down in flames, Bannon said he knew Trump was going to blame, and fire, Priebus. From the article:

Priebus soon became a target of Trump’s ritual belittling as the president took to referring to him as ‘Reincey.’ At one point, he summoned Priebus — to swat a fly. Priebus seemed to have been willing to endure almost any indignity to stay in Trump’s favor. There was that scene right out of The Manchurian Candidate when, at a Cabinet meeting, the president’s most powerful advisers virtually competed to see who could be more obsequious; Priebus won hands down, declaring what a “blessing” it was to serve the president.

It didn’t work.

The full Whipple/Priebus/Vanity Fair piece is here.