Plight of the poor

Matt Taibbi, February 3

photo courtesy of Mondavi Center

“Income inequality” is a buzz phrase that many politicians tend to throw around, particularly during election time—even Republicans have started using it. But what does it really mean? On the surface, the discussion is about America’s disappearing middle class, and how more people are struggling financially, while fewer people possess most of the country’s wealth. But is that really all there is to say about it?

In the book Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, journalist Matt Taibbi analyzes how the legal and justice system treats people differently based on their economic status. Rich people, Taibbi says, are virtually immune to punishment, while the poor are increasingly more likely to be harassed and imprisoned for minor offenses.

The book covers how the prison population is bigger than ever, and yet crime statistics are on a downward trend. He argues poor people are imprisoned for being poor. Meanwhile, white-collar criminals not only avoid punishment, but retain wealth and status.

Taibbi will visit the Mondavi Center as part of UC Davis’ Campus Community Book Project. He’ll discuss the book, his research and the idea that income inequality isn’t about just who gets to own stuff—it’s a human rights issue. $12.50-$49; 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 3. Mondavi Center, 1 Shields Avenue in Davis;