The rising tide that lifts some yachts

13 Jul 2015

Why are we angered by stories of Greek hairdressers retiring at fifty on public pensions yet unmoved at the thought of bailed-out German bankers being chauffeured around town?

In October 2000, a few weeks before the US presidential election, I heard Ralph Nader speak at the Harvard Law School. At that stage of the campaign, he appeared to be riding high, drawing crowds of over 12,000 to rallies in Seattle, Minneapolis and Boston and being interviewed daily in the national media. The auditorium was packed and Nader seemed to have the audience in the palm of his hand. They cheered on his entry, laughed at every wry quip, applauded every rhetorical turn and listened intently during the more developed passages of argument.

As an alumnus of the Harvard Law School, Nader was one of their own, and the commonality was evident in a certain shared degree of acuity. Yet this concentration of America’s young elite included future Democrat and Republican senators, corporate leaders, speechwriters, policy-makers and think-tank aficionados. What they were applauding was a fiery condemnation of a state of affairs many of them would subsequently work to perpetuate…

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