Op-Ed: Princeton Professor Warns of 'Royal Weddings' In U.S. If Economic Inequality Continues

April 25th, 2011 1:45 PM

The "erosion" of progressive policies in the U.S. has led to a "dramatic" rise of economic inequality in the past few decades, writes Princeton historian Julian Zelizer in a op-ed. The incline has been so steep that Zelizer's headline asks "Are we heading for royal weddings in the U.S.?"

According to Zelizer, the upcoming British royal wedding "reminds some Americans of what America has never been," because America has never cherished an aristocratic tradition. But that could change due to a "dangerous accretion of power by wealthy interests and a dramatic rise of inequality...that weakens the health of our democracy."

The cause of all this is the recent departure from liberal policies like Congress regularly updating the minimum wage, implementation of the estate tax, and higher income taxes for the wealthy. With this "erosion" of progressive policy has come an "erosion in the economic security of the middle class," Zelizer laments.

Zelizer references two statistics to support his argument, that the top one percent of wealthiest Americans own 34 percent of the country's wealth and that they enjoyed 80 percent of the total increase in wealth in America between 1980 and 2005. What are the two sources he draws from? The liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and liberal magazine Slate.

"Ultimately, we need to make sure we don't allow economic inequality – as opposed to our democratic institutions – to define our nation. If we do, we'll all be watching royal weddings right in our own backyard," Zelizer concludes.