Chrystia Freeland of The New York Times opines on the inevitable path of self-destruction America's 1% is headed for. She compares current events in the United States to the behaviour of Venice's elites when they issued the serrata: a closure to stop social mobility within their society. While their intentions were to keep as much wealth for themselves as possible, that decision was what started the precipitation and eventual fall of the city-state's long-enjoyed prosperity.
The story of Venice's rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book "Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty," as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.
The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.
That was the future predicted by Karl Marx, who wrote that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. And it is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further -- ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.
You can see America's creeping Serrata in the growing social and, especially, educational chasm between those at the top and everyone else. At the bottom and in the middle, American society is fraying, and the children of these struggling families are lagging the rest of the world at school.
|"I resisted the Poltergeist-like temptation to turn the television on as well": Hacking a 'Smart Home'|
|Keyboards That Rise Out of Touch-Screen Devices|
|Stephen Hawking Warns: Don't Talk to Aliens|
|Landline Phone Service Must Die|
|"The gun that reads James Bond's palm print in 'Skyfall' is no longer a futuristic plot twist."|
|“You become more difficult for an algorithm to understand, market to, or manipulate.”|
|"How will that impact human evolution going forward?"|
|"The most automated warehouse of its kind"|
|"Low-cost solar and human-powered vehicle."|
|Changing the Oil of Your Car is so Easy, Even a Kid Can Do It|
|Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans|
|"Synthetic biology is the realm of creating life from scratch."|
|"Contact could mean extraordinary things for humanity if it happens soon."|
|A Brief History of the Entire World, I Think|
|"Immigration policy has left many worried that there simply won’t be enough immigrant workers to meet the demand."|
|"We've been able to take a can of spray paint and put a touch screen on almost anything."|