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Роберт У. Фогель
Robert W. Fogel
Источник: Newsweek, 10/2/95, Vol. 126 Issue 14, p102, 1p, 1c
Will, George F.
Political change in the 1990s is rooted in changes in American religiosity
When controversy erupted concerning gays in the military, it was noted that many members of the media have gay friends but no friends in the military. Today the socialization of journalists may also explain the incomprehension that colors coverage of the conservative Christian Coalition. Robert Fogel, professor of American institutions at the University of Chicago, explains that today's large political changes are "to a large extent spawned by changes in American religiosity," which is usually how change is spawned in this deeply religious country.
In "The Fourth Great Awakening and the Political Realignment of the 1990s," Fogel's Bradley Lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, he argues that today's religious activists, by their numbers and, even more, their intensity, are driving today's reconsideration of "the theory that cultural crises can be resolved by raising incomes," a theory thoroughly tested in this century and refuted. Today's religious awakening is related to this fact: In this century the real income of the bottom fifth of the population has increased 13-fold, more than twice the increase for the other four-fifths, yet the cultural crises of urbanization deepen.
The first of the three previous political-religious stirrings was the Great Awakening of 1730-1760, which emphasized "new birth" achieved at revival meetings. It produced heightened sensitivity to British moral and political corruption and helped produce the American Revolution. The second stirring, in the era of the camp meetings between 1800 and 1840, taught that anyone could acquire saving grace by inner struggle and by struggling against social sins. This prepared the ground for the abolitionist and temperance movements that believed slavery. and alcohol impeded personal and national salvation.
The third quickening of religious life, between 1890 and 1930, coincided with increased urbanization, immigration and labor strife. Its core belief, shaped by Darwinism and the new faith in science, was that human beings and society could evolve toward perfection as scientists discovered God's laws in the laws of nature. The Social Gospel movement preached that poverty is not a personal but a social failure. Embraced by the growing ranks of people running universities and mass media, this doctrine provided the intellectual predicate for the welfare state. The fourth "awakening" began, Fogel says, with the intensification of religious life that produced growing membership in all church denominations in the late 1950s. In the mid-1960s membership in the principal mainline churches began what has become a 25 percent decline. However, membership in the "enthusiastic" churches nearly doubled. "By the end of the 1980s," Fogel says, "enthusiastic religion had about 60 million adherents representing about one-third of the electorate." In the 1982 congressional elections, such votes split almost evenly between the two parties. But in 1994, 74 percent voted Republican. If they vote in the same numbers and pattern in 1996, there will have been--in just one decade-- an interparty shift of about 7.5 million votes. If so, then perhaps the biggest blunder of the Clinton presidency, bigger even than the health care plan, was the tactic of implying that the religiosity of religious conservatives compounds the unpleasantness of their conservatism.
As Fogel explains, the religious and political impulses are fused. Reducing taxes and government's size are aspects of an agenda for refocusing politics on cultural reform through individual responsibility and personal compassion. The "re-emergence of confidence in the power of personal compassion" undergirds conservative demands for returning power to the people, beginning with power over individuals' earnings. Hence the durability of the tax revolt, concerning which Fogel is particularly acute.
The mix of households represented in the top 10 percent of income earners has changed from the day when they represented a "leisure class" deriving most of its income not from labor but from ownership of land or other assets. Today a majority of the households in the top decile are there because they have multiple income earners. A typical family in the top decile might include an accountant and a teacher, each in the third decade of their professional lives and each earning more than ,000 a year. So, says Fogel, taxing the top 10 percent of earners is taxing not the idle rich but rather people near the end of their careers "who, after years of scrimping, and hours of work much longer than average," are finally comfortable.
Resistance to increased taxation of the top 10 percent is strong among those who are younger and earn less but who are on a career path to that decile. In fact, the middle ranks of income earners can identify with even the top 2 percent of earners. Says Fogel, "The mythical Huxtables, made famous by Bill Cosby, are typical of these super rich, since a 55-year-old gynecologist married to a 50-year-old lawyer would probably have a joint income quite close to the mean income of the top 2 percent of households."
Fogel says that even a long conservative ascendancy will not mean reversal of this century's egalitarian gains, because the gains were not primarily the result of redistributive fiscal policies. Rather, they resulted from economic and social changes (e.g., the change of agriculture from the largest sector of the economy to just 2 percent of GNP) that made human capital--skills--more important than land and physical capital in the productive process. Government played a large role in this, by making primary and secondary education compulsory and free, by multiplying the number of city and state universities, and by expanding scholarship programs that democratized access to higher education.
By making private contributions to colleges and universities tax deductible, government encouraged the transformation of old wealth, produced by land and physical capital, into human capital -- again, skills -- possessed by children from the middle and lower classes. This, says Fogel, was one of the largest acts of redistribution of wealth in history. It was the transfer, from the rich to the children of the nonrich, of capital that, in the new form of productive knowledge, "now greatly exceeds the value of all privately held land and industrial capital." Thus does Fogel -- an empiricist, not an advocate -- find that conservative values buttressed by religion can support -- did support --egalitarian change.
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