Ask Reihan Anything: A Conservative Approach To Inequality?

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 9 2012 @ 12:00pm

Above, Reihan connects inequality to mass incarceration in the US. As he wrote late last year:

The impact of mass incarceration is an awkward subject. The right tends to dismiss it because the communities most heavily impacted tend not to be part of the broad conservative coalition. The left is uncomfortable talking about it because (a) they fear attacks from the political right if they sound “soft on crime,” (b) it might be a distraction from the case for social democracy — if mass incarceration is a huge driver of inequality and stickiness among the poor, the case for social programs that employ large numbers of unionized public workers might not be the solution for pressing social problems — (c) and it might risk stigmatizing the communities that are most heavily impacted, which are part of the broad left-of-center coalition.

As a general rule, the people who spend a lot of time writing and thinking about mass incarceration are social democrats who see mass incarceration as part of a larger set of problems with a relatively open market economy is a post-slavery society defined by high levels of heterogeneity. Yet it should be of much greater interest to the right, as it opens up the possibility of a set of policy prescriptions for inequality and low levels of relative mobility from the bottom that actually increase personal freedom, potentially reduce public expenditures, and reduce crime and the pervasive fear that comes with it.

Reihan is also a CNN contributor and you can find more of his writing over at Reuters Opinion. Reihan’s previous video is here. “Ask Anything” archive, here.