The Gap Between Rich & Poor

Fall 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 – Who’s Winning, Who’s Losing, and Who’s Writing the Rules? Jobs, Immigration, and the Trade Rulebook of Corporate Globalization

What do a laid-off sawmill worker from northern New England and a displaced corn farmer emigrating from El Salvador have in common? They are refugees of corporate globalization, and specifically of free trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA. Sharing stories of the survivors of free trade and a corporate war economy helps us build a movement of people committed to working together for a democratic and just economy.

Sarah Bigney is an organizer with the Maine Fair Trade Campaign, a coalition of 61 labor, environmental, human rights, and family farm organizations working to change the rules of the global economy through international trade policy.


Monday, October 24, 2011 – The Maine Labor Mural Controversy

Maine artist Judy Taylor will discuss the creation of the Maine Labor Mural, the history of the individual panels, and the recent controversy over the removal of the panels under Governor Paul LePage’s orders.

Taylor studied at the New York Academy of Figurative Art and the National Academy of Design, working with masters such as Harvey Dinnerstein. After studying art in Europe, she moved to Mount Desert Island in Maine and opened a studio and gallery in Seal Cove. Taylor, whose work is in many public and private collections, was awarded the commission to paint the history of Maine labor for the Department of Labor in Augusta in 2008.


Monday, November 7, 2011 – Income Inequality in the US: What Are the Facts, What Difference Does it Make, and What Can Be Done About It?

The equal society of late twentieth-century America was socially constructed by policies pursued during the 1930s and 1940s, including public investment, social insurance, educational opportunity, and empowered trade unions. In the 1960s, antipoverty, civil rights, regulated finance, and medical insurance for the elderly were added. As these policies were reversed, so was the egalitarian income distribution. The current recession has only exacerbated the three-decade inequality trend. To restore a more equal distribution of income, opportunity, and wealth, we need to rebuild a managed form of market economy.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect, a magazine he founded in 1989 with Paul Starr and Robert Reich. He is also a distinguished senior fellow at Demos, a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization and a cofounder of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. A prolific author, Kuttner’s most recent book is A Presidency in Peril.


Spring 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 – Latin America and its Discontents

Tulchin discusses inequality and citizen security in Latin America, the major “tectonic” changes that have taken place in Latin America since the end of the Cold War, and how inequality and insecurity are further exacerbated by these changes. His in-depth focus on a Brazilian case highlights the importance of public policies that deal with the economic divide.

Joseph S. Tulchin is a Latin American scholar with published research on hemispheric security and international affairs, citizen security and police reform, reducing inequality, and the governance of cities. The author of more than 100 scholarly articles and 70 books, Tulchin is a visiting fellow at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, where he is writing a book on United States relations with Central America.


Monday, March 12, 2012 – The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Inequality, Corporate Power, and Crime

Income and wealth inequality are worse than what people believe is fair, and inequality is underestimated. In his talk, Leighton discusses the link between the distribution of economic resources and crime, based on famed criminologist John Braithwaite’s argument that inequality worsens both crimes of poverty, which are motivated by need and structural humiliation, and crimes of wealth, which are motivated by greed and unaccountability. He will also provide a review of numerous solutions proposed over decades, highlighting the importance of campaign finance reform.

Paul Leighton is a professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology at Eastern Michigan University. He is a co-author or co-editor of The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison; the The Rich Get Richer: A Reader; Criminal Justice Ethics; Class, Race, Gender and Crime; and Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge. He was editor of Critical Criminology: An International Journal, and was named Critical Criminologist of the Year from the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Critical Criminology. Leighton is also president of the board of a domestic violence shelter and advocacy center.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012 – Social Class, Solipsism, and Contextualism: Why the Rich are Different from the Poor

Social class permeates social life, shaping everything from where people live to the food they eat and the music they listen to. And yet research typically emphasizes the pathology of the lower class: the psychological and physiological shortcomings lower-class individuals experience due to their reduced status in society. In his talk, Michael Kraus advocates for an alternative cultural perspective on social class, suggesting that the contexts of lower- and upper-class individuals—characterized by disparities in material resources and socioeconomic rank—create reliable and sometimes surprising differences in prosocial tendencies, such as empathy and generosity, among lower- and upper-class individuals.

Michael Kraus is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco. His research focuses on how status is signaled and expressed in interactions, how teams promote cooperation, and how close relationships shape the self-concept.