Research Paper Help on Diminished Egality

Diminished Egality


When it appeared in the January 5, 2004 edition of The Nation, Paul Krugman’s article caught America’s imagination by storm. The article, dubbed “The Death of Horatio Alger” is an article on the inequality that is rife in today’s society. Paul Krugman, a renowned Princeton economic professor, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner, offers his insights on the increasing income inequality and the role that policy plays in widening this inequality. The Nation, a scholarly paper that discusses world problems and remedies to those problems, was Krugman’s picking for his article that he had written on December 18, 2003. Krugman blends a list of studies, research findings, and influences of famous scholars to offer his insight on why he believes egality has died. The article title captivates readers, but the material in the article is contrary to the title’s notion of what is inside the paper. Krugman does a good job in offering the relevant information to support his discussion.


In articulating his belief of why the poor will continue being poor, and the rich richer, Krugman cites the Business Week article titled “Waking Up From the American Dream.” The article cites research that shows how income inequality has risen, and how class-ridden America has become (Krugman). In the Gilded Age, the American society was highly stratified according to class. However, during the Great compression of 1930s, New Deal policies started narrowing the income inequalities. In modern society, the political leaders are instituting policies geared at fortifying class inequality and returning America to the inequality of the Gilded Age. Krugman cites data from the Congressional Budget Office that shows how the average real incomes of low-class Americans are reducing while those of the upper one percentile have more than quadrupled.

Krugman laments those apologists who state that America is not a caste society. Conservatives like Glenn Hubbard purport that more Americans are transitioning from low-income to high-income jobs. However, this pseudo- mobility only accounts for workers with real jobs. While it is true that America had substantially intergenerational mobility during the three decades after World War II, America is now a rigidly caste society. Studies indicate that rags-to-riches stories have vanished, and very few children from a low-class society are achieving even moderate affluence (Krugman). Upward mobility has drastically reduced, and people are more likely to remain in the class that they were born. While the Business Week attributes this phenomenon to ‘Wal-Martization’ of the economy, Krugman attributes it to public policy.

Governments have instituted policies geared towards aiding the rich increase their wealth, and the poor remain in their social class. For wealthy citizens, estate taxes have been eliminated. Taxes on corporate earnings like those on capital gains and dividends have also been minimized. In general, the wealthy enjoy tax shelters that ultimately secure their wealth. To reduce upward mobility, payroll taxes are increased. Healthcare for society’s poor, quality and funding for public education is cutin order to make acquisition of education for low-income individuals a herculean task. What all these mean for America is that wealth will be controlled by untalented individuals while the potential of the talented ones is wasted.


Paul Krugman comes out as a chief critic of government policies, and of the wealthy in society who dictate how the poor live. He uses reports and relevant studies to prove his points. Krugman cites reports like the Business Week article that summarizes research that shows how social mobility has reduced in recent years. The report supports his opinion that there is a rise in income inequality, and that America is increasingly becoming a caste system. Other research that he uses to affirm his points include data from the Congressional Budget Office that shows how real incomes for low-class Americans are reducing, while those for the upper class are increasing drastically. By basing his arguments on fact and confirmed data, Krugman manages to convince readers and justify his opinions.

Krugman also appeals to the subconscious. He does not openly reveal some of the tactics used by the elite to assert their authority; he lets readers decide for themselves. Krugman poses the question of what an individual would do in order to entrench the advantages of the wealthy. He t offers some suggestions, like eliminating the estate tax for the rich, and reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends. By so doing, he suggests that the rich would accumulate more wealth. He suggests that healthcare for the underprivileged would be reduced as well as the quality of education and assistance for such education. He stimulates readers into looking at society and assessing whether some of the suggestions he makes apply. At the end of it, he poses the question, “It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?” (Krugman). By engaging readers in analyzing the policies in place, Krugman achieves his objective of stimulating society to deeply critiquing the role government plays in increasing inequality.

Paul Krugman criticizes the government for its role in increasing income inequality. However, he is wealthy himself, and associates with the same politicians he criticizes. Krugman has a Nobel Prize to his name, a prize for which he took photos with President Bush. Krugman is an influential person, but who in 1978 was “an oppressed professor”. Krugman is a living testimony that people can evade the predicament of residing in the same class they were born. While concluding his article, Krugman opines that Thomas Piketty is right in his assessment that in the near future America will be occupied by untalented but wealthy children, and talented children who cannot compete. Krugman himself does a lot to influence how the society works. His talent has made him into one of the most cited economists of modern times. He is wealthy and his talent has not been wasted. His assessment that it is rigidly difficult for individuals to achieve upward mobility seems unfounded, at least according to his life story.

Although Krugman is wealthy, influential, and relate well with those in the upper echelons of society, he is quick to critique the upper class. He cites articles, reports, and studies that show how inequality in America is increasing. Krugman also affirms his ideas into the reader’s mind by helping the reader to analyze the policies in place that act to increase wealth for the wealthy, while ensuring that the poor in society never achieve upward mobility. Krugman manages to convince readers of his belief that the American society is increasingly becoming a caste society.


In his article on “The Death of Horatio Alger,” Paul Krugman offers convincing reasons as to why the American society is increasingly caste. The article provides a compelling argument complete with evidence and data to support his opinion. The article challenges readers to think critically about how the American society is, and is essential for anyone interest in sociology and how the society works. The article is well-written, interesting, and will challenge anybody who takes the time to read through it.

Works Cited

Krugman, Paul. “The Death of Horatio Alger.” 5 January 2004. Document. 11 March 2015. <>.