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Why the Wealthy Fear Pandemics - Walter Scheidel - NYT
The coronavirus, like other plagues before it, could shift the balance between rich and poor.

... The wealthy found some of these changes alarming. In the words of an anonymous English chronicler, "Such a shortage of laborers ensued that the humble turned up their noses at employment, and could scarcely be persuaded to serve the eminent for triple wages."

... But as successive waves of plague shrunk the work force, hired hands and tenants "took no notice of the king's command," ... "If anyone wanted to hire them he had to submit to their demands, for either his fruit and standing corn would be lost or he had to pander to the arrogance and greed of the workers."

... This altered the long-term economic outcomes for the entire region: Free labor and thriving cities drove modernization in western Europe, but in the eastern periphery, development fell behind.

... None of these stories had a happy ending for the masses. When population numbers recovered after the plague ... wages slid downward and elites were firmly back in control. Colonial Latin America went on to produce some of the most extreme inequalities on record. In most European societies, disparities in income and wealth rose for four centuries all the way up to the eve of World War I.

... The current crisis could prompt redistributive reforms akin to those triggered by the Great Depression and World War II, unless entrenched interests prove too powerful to overcome.

Steve Bannon reportedly dreams of white-nationalist, economic populism finally coming to fruition. But then again he dreamed of Republicans investing trillions in infrastructure and cementing their rule for 50 years. Godspeed America this is your last chance before descending into banana republic status.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Apr 9th, 2020 at 09:46:10 PM EST

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