Chapter 8 Summary - Escaping the Inequality Trap
● One sociological argument to fix inequality is to develop our science and technology so
that we can eventually create an abundance of everything needed to live a full,
rewarding human life. The historical record tends to disagree.
○ Once societies began to reliably generate surplus, people fought over who could
grab the most of the surplus.
○ Modern industrial technology has made it possible to provide everyone with food,
clothing, shelter, health care, and education, even though the U.S. does not do a
good job of providing those to everyone.
■ The problem is with how our capacity is used and with how resources are
● Freeing the Imagination
○ We can free the imagination by learning about other cultures and the history of
how things today came to be.
■ Most often this happens accidentally, when people encounter surprising
facts or ideas that shake up their inherited worldviews.
■ A few hours of reading can make a start towards making the TINA claim
to inequality seem silly.
■ The problem is getting a critical mass of people to believe that change is
possible and better alternatives can be created.
● Humanizing Others
○ Imagine how we would treat those less fortunate than us if we treated them like
they were members of our families instead of just “other” people.
○ It often takes a powerful emotional experience- such as witnessing the suffering
of a real person- to break down the definition of others as “Others.” ○ We need to overcome the definitions of reality that impede our ability to
empathize in order to truly help and feel for others.
● Questioning Contradictions
○ Americans tend to not take democracy, equal opportunity, etc. seriously. We
can’t be taking it seriously if inequality is still woven throughout the U.S.
● New Rules of the Game
○ Humans are as capable of being greedy a