David Coates

Chapter 4: May 2010 Update

The ‘progressive’ elements of the health care reform passed March 21, 2010 – especially the proposed taxation of so-called “Cadillac plans” and the payroll taxing of incomes over $250,000 – continued to attract rightwing criticism, in a year in which CEO pay in the 200 major U.S. companies continued to decline slightly. The median package of salaries, bonuses, incentive payments and stock options remained however at a cool $6.95 million! (The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2010). This was only the third annual drop recorded since 1989, when the Journal first started recording this figure.

The other vital piece of reading for those concerned with the wider implications of the U.S. penchant for income inequality should be Tony Judt’s “Ill Fares the Land”, in the April 29th edition of The New York Review of Books. Using data from Tim Jackson, Prosperity without Growth (2009) and Richard Wilkinson and Kay Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009), he traces the adverse impact of massive income inequality of the U.S. kind on social mobility, ill-health, mental health, crime and life expectancy. A must read!

David Coates holds the Worrell Chair in Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University. He is the author of Answering Back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments, New York: Continuum Books, 2010.

He writes here in a personal capacity.

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