By Karen Shaw Petrou
Does economic inequality lead to political polarization that then creates gridlock that increases economic inequality and turns negative feedback into M.C. Escher’s tessellated stairway to a political doom loop?
After the first full year of Donald Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress, it’s easy to conclude that we’re in the part of the cycle where inequality leads to polarization and then to gridlock broken only by anti-distributive policies and more acute polarization before gridlock sets in again. Getting a really bad feeling, I turned to a review of academic literature on economic inequality and political polarization. It generally confuses causality and correlation, but nonetheless shows that conventional wisdom is right: all of these forces make this a particularly parlous political session with potentially dangerous consequences for long-term comity and even stability. Put another way, 2018 will be way ugly. Continue reading “The Mother of All Negative Feedback Loops: Economic Inequality, Political Polarization, and the 2018 Congress”