Even Slaves in 1774 Colonial America Experienced Less Economic Inequality than We Have Today

Food for thought from Washington’s blog

Even Slave-Holding Societies Had More Economic Equality than Modern America

We’ve repeatedly noted that inequality in America today is worse than it was in the Gilded Age, worse than in Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, and worse than in many banana republics in Latin America.

We’ve also noted that inequality in modern America is twice as bad as in ancient Rome … which was built on slave labor.

A newly-updated study by professors Peter Lindert of the University of California at Davis and Jeffrey Williamson of Harvard shows that inequality is now worse than in the slave-holding colonies. As the Atlantic notes:

American income inequality may be more severe today than it was way back in 1774 — even if you factor in slavery.

This is not a partisan issue: both conservatives and liberals are concerned about runaway inequality and the collapse of social mobility.

Indeed, we’ve known for thousands of years that:

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

Obviously, we do not condone slavery.  As the Atlantic notes in a footnote:

Please don’t interpret anything in this article as suggesting that American slavery was anything less than horrific. The paper only suggests that on a strictly dollars and cents basis, income was skewed less towards the rich during the colonial era than it is today.

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