Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why Be a Superpower?

Much of the talk surrounding this presidential election has to do with income inequality and the distribution (or re-distribution) of wealth. Both major party campaigns have at least paid lip service to the plight of the middle class.

What is the connection, if any, between wealth distribution and a nation's status as a world power? The U.S. came of age as a world power during the so called gilded age, when new industries and a laissez-faire regulatory policy created huge discrepancies in wealth. This lasted until after World War II, when the more egalitarian welfare state took hold. So is inequality a prerequisite for being a world power?

And what's wrong with being a former world power anyway? France hasn't been a threat to anyone since the days of Napolean, and that seems like a pretty nice place. Britannia no longer rules the waves, but there's great theater, dining and shopping in London. So maybe it's time to take it easy.

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