Thursday, July 17, 2014

John Oliver on the reality, ideology, and illusions of income inequality in America

Ever since John Oliver left The Daily Show to start his own satirical TV show, Last Week Tonight, the new show has been quite good, often terrific. Oliver can be wickedly funny (though sometimes just cheerfully silly), but along with the laughs he also delivers a good deal of serious, substantial, and illuminating education on important public issues.

One example was his segment last Sunday about the dramatic increase in income inequality over the past several decades ... and some of the cultural and ideological reasons why Americans seem to be unable to confront this subject seriously and intelligently. (A lot of the basic ideas Oliver is drawing on have been discussed for more than a century—at least since Werner Sombart's Why Is There No Socialism In America? in 1906, though in key respects one really has to go back, as usual, to Tocqueville's Democracy in America—but unfortunately they remain timely and on-target.)

 You can watch it here.

—Jeff Weintraub