Chait, on Obama, Sanders, and wealth inequality:
In Obama’s telling, his [big-business] opponents are foolishly greedy, defending their short-term interests [i.e., suppressing wages] at the expense of their long-term interests. In Sanders’s telling, they are shrewdly and correctly greedy … in that "the billionaire class" or "the one percent" — terms he uses interchangeably — [are] locked in a death struggle against the vast majority of the populace.
History would tend to side with Obama on this.
These times are often compared to those of the 1920s, the Second Gilded Age. It should be noted that a distinctive mark of that decade was mounting inventories — a result, in large part, of big business' suppression of wages. Increasingly, American workers couldn't afford the very products they were making, and ultimately, oversupply and underdemand combined in vast contribution to the flowering of the Great Depression.
Now obviously the post-industrial 2010s cannot be compared to the industrial 1920s. Still, the fundamentals hold: The suppression of wages and economic marginalization of American workers may be in the short-term interests of big business and its stockholders. But as a long-term strategy, it is self-defeating. "Over time," as Obama put it, "you’ll strangle this goose that’s been laying you all these golden eggs." His advice: "Share the eggs."
Not doing so is far from "shrewd." We learned that the hard way, nearly 90 years ago.