matt bruenig

matt bruenig

intro’d to Matt when Carol posted this on fb:

College does not lead to high economic status; high economic status leads to college. Educational attainment is a marker of high social class, not the cause of it:

The social distance caused by inequality is not solved by having some children from poorer families wind up well off as adults. At best, such a person jumps from one class to another. But that jumping still leaves intact the underlying class differences.

..we like to imagine that the poor kid who goes on to be rich has a foot in both classes and acts as some sort of bridge of understanding. In reality, it appears that the very upwardly mobile poor kid becomes alienated at both ends of the class spectrum. They become alienated from their lower class background because their educational and lifestyle differences make it increasingly harder to relate to their past. And they remain alienated from their upper class destination because they never fully fit in. It’s one thing to move from one economic class to another. It’s quite another to truly move from one social group to another.

Social distance is not likely to be much affected by attempts at making bridges between classes via upwardly mobile poor kids. If you want to reduce the social distance between social groups, you need to reduce the material basis of that distance.


then found this on gentrification (more quoted from his piece here):

When (1) a rich person and a poor person (2) vie for (3) the same resources, the rich person gets them and the poor person does not.


videoblog from april 2014:

child allowance

common thread/claim: single mothering causes poverty

6 min – child allowance – monthly stipend – based on # of children.. (until age 16-18 – some give more for first 5 yrs) tried $300 per child per month – child poverty was reduced 42% – not so much reduction on adult poverty  – because many don’t have children

stipend meaning – whatever specific needs your family needs.. (rather than saying what they have to use it for)

dependability – you know each month it will come.. as opposed to in status quo – child tax credit et all – coming once a year.. hard to even know what they’ll get and hard to budget it in…

using this as savings… Kathrin Edin ness

child tax credit is non-refundable…  ie: get more help the more money you make.. should at least get same.. if not more if you’re poor

child allowance quite simple.. used in sweden, france… we already have a system that sends out money monthly.. social security…

24 min – many not aware of benefits possible… check in the mail is pretty easy to see/get

27 min – mcartal (bloomberg – the upside about down) – response to pickety – but hadn’t read the book – money can’t fix all of this…. basically – the book is about inequality – as the biggest problem facing everyone – and she says that’s not true.. top 5. 1. unemployment 2. finding a part w/good employment 3. falling/staying in love 4. having children w/economic security 5. having friends… she says pickety won’t make you happy in the long term..

30 min – so what is pickety going to do to get me friends… money – to go to movie/dinner … how can you have inclusion in a society/relationships if you don’t have the money for it…

31 min – leisure time, european state provided – free culture ie: museum passes

32 min – pickety proposes a solution that would end all human misery – pickety isn’t really focused on the poor – but rather the run away ness at the top. ie: who own’s everything.. sort of blocks out the bottom 90%, really not concerned about that.. irrelevant to the project…

33 min – if you imagine someone saying.. like we are.. that you should just reduce inequality outright and that that will be good. the fact that there will still be other problems.. ie: from being alone.. is orthogonal to the question… shouldn’t they at least have material security..

36 min – the govt can distribute resources.. it does.. but can’t solve existential… that’s where community

37 min – sovereign wealth fund.. some of the reactions to pickety, lot of confusion with what he’s talking about when referring to capital (machines/buildings, …productive notion of capital), he defines capital as anything that your institutions have set up that you can own and trade that also generates some financial return. ie: patents, license out to people as rent, that’s not really physical and licensing it out is not productive in any meaningful way. people were capital, being on the other end of a debt arrangement.. on creditors side.. that’s not really capital…

41 – capital is a thing we make with our institutions.. power relationships totally dependent on our laws/institutions.. rate of return on capital has been essentially the same..

wealth understood in this social constructiveness sense… ie: in germany – shows up having much less wealth than other countries.. but certainly doesn’t have less buildings, etc. ie: 1/3 of corporate board is of workers from firm.. so workers have more power/control than workers in us.. that also means owning that stock is less valuable. but that’s not because the firm has less capital.. it’s just a function of how you determined relationships..

sovereign wealth fund – think about uni endowments.. foundations also invest in stocks and get a return. alaska/norway/china has a swf..  so i (matt) was proposing these swf as a solution. if we can get a lot of capital in hands of swf – then can go to govt.. all alaskans have this big pot of capital – getting a check every year.

swf – you get money – without taxing – market socialism..

alaska – some 1000-3000 yr per person in your family

ie: state owned oil company

so – what about no money..?


find/follow Matt:

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Philosophy, economics, poverty, inequality, class, the Left. .

his site:


Matt writes for 

from their site:

To help America meet that challenge, Demos is working to reduce both political and economic inequality, deploying original research, advocacy, litigation, and strategic communications to create the America the people deserve.

Demos’ work is guided by three overarching commitments:

  1. Achieving true democracy by reducing the role of money in politics and guaranteeing the freedom to vote,
  2. Creating pathways to ensure a diverse, expanded middle class in a new, sustainable economy, and
  3. Transforming the public narrative to elevate the values of community and racial equity.


he writes many places.. the american prospect being one..

[take all this in..? or wonder if it’s more noise.. better noise perhaps..? but still on an assumption of money..? i don’t know.]


poverty ness

money ness