To Narrow the Gap Between the Rich and Everyone Else Brink Lindsey Urges Investment in Human Capitalism
January 7, 2013
The growing divide between those enjoying economic prosperity and those struggling to make ends meet is a major issue among politicians, pundits, scholars, journalists, and economists.
But finding solutions for narrowing that gap have proved elusive.
Brink Lindsey examines the critical need for America to invest in its people in Human Capitalism: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter - and More Unequal on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Lindsey, a Kauffman Foundation senior scholar, argues that the gap between elites and the rest of the population can best be explained by the ever-growing complexity of modern economies and the barriers to acquiring the skills (human capital) needed to not only survive but thrive in this new landscape.
Today's economic complexity is making the elite richer - and smarter: "As the economy makes ever-greater demands on their minds, the successful are making ever-greater investments in education and other ways of increasing their children's human capital, expanding their cognitive skills and leading them to still higher levels of success."
But as the rich are securely riding this virtuous cycle, "the poor are trapped in a vicious one where a pattern of family breakdown, unemployment, and dysfunction leads to further erosion of knowledge and skills."
Lindsey's research shows that while high-skill jobs are rewarded, mid-level jobs are increasingly automated or outsourced, further widening the gap. Simply retraining workers doesn't address the underlying issues of cultural divisions and polarization that permeate the economy.
To redeem the promise of human capitalism Lindsey recommends:
- Maintaining growth through policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Reforming K-12 education by encouraging competition.
- Stepping up early childhood interventions that can compensate for disadvantaged environments.
- Combating social exclusion of low-skilled adults through low-wage job subsidies, changes in disability insurance, and penal reform to reduce mass incarceration.
- Reforming land-use regulation and occupational licensing to facilitate upward mobility.
Lindsey is the past vice president for research at the Cato Institute. An attorney with extensive experience in international trade regulation, he has been senior editor of Regulation magazine and is a contributing editor for Reason magazine
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.