Income inequality has been on the rise for decades. In the last 30 years, the wages of the top 1% have grown by 154%, while the bottom 90% has seen growth of only 17%. As the rungs of the economic ladder move further and further apart, conventional wisdom says that it will become much more difficult to climb them. Opportunities for upward mobility-the American dream-will disappear as the deck becomes stacked against the middle class and the poor. But others see inequality as a positive, a sign of a dynamic and robust economy that, in the end, helps everyone. And contrary to public opinion, mobility has remained stable over the past few decades. If the American dream is dying, is it the result of income inequality? Or is disparity in income a red herring where more complex issues are at play?
Edward Conard is author of the recently-released New York Times bestseller, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy is Wrong. In his new book, Conard attempts to set the record straight and fill the void left by other business and economic analysts. He presents a fascinating and contrarian case for how the economy really works, what went wrong over the past decade, and what steps we can take to start growing again. Conard was a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007. He served as the head of Bain’s New York office and led the firm’s acquisitions of large industrial companies. Prior to Bain, Conard worked for Wasserstein Perella, an investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions, and Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, where he headed its industrial practice. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan.
John Donvan is the moderator for "Intelligence Squared U.S." He is an author and correspondent for ABC News. He has hosted "Nightline," "World News," "Good Morning America," and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” in addition to producing “My Generation” for PBS. He has also served as ABC’s Chief White House correspondent and held postings in London, Jerusalem, Moscow and Amman. Recognized by the National Magazine Awards for his 2011 Atlantic profile piece “Autism’s First Child,” he is currently writing a book on the history of autism to be published by Crown in 2013.
Elise Gould’s research areas include wages, poverty, inequality, economic mobility and health care. She is a co-author of The State of Working America, 12th Edition. Gould also co-authored a book on health insurance coverage in retirement; published in venues such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Challenge Magazine, and Tax Notes; and has written for academic journals including Health Economics, Health Affairs, and Journal of Aging and Social Policy. Gould is quoted regularly by NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, Bloomberg, and Wall Street Journal, and her opinions have appeared on the op-ed pages of USA Today and Detroit News. She has testified before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Maryland Senate Finance and House Economic Matters committees, the New York City Council, and the District of Columbia Council. Gould holds a Masters of Public Affairs from University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Nick Hanauer is one of the most successful entrepreneurs, investors, and managers in the Northwest, with over 30 years of experience across a broad range of industries. He has managed, founded, or financed over 30 companies, creating aggregate market value of tens of billions of dollars, including Amazon.com, Aquantive Inc., Insitu group, Market Leader, and, most recently, the venture capital firm Second Avenue Partners. He is actively involved in a variety of civic and philanthropic activities and has served a broad range of civic organizations, including the University of Washington Foundation and the Seattle Alliance for Education. He currently serves as a director for the Democracy Alliance and as a board advisor to the policy journal Democracy. Hanauer has published two national bestsellers, The True Patriot (2007) and The Gardens of Democracy (2010), with co-author Eric Liu. In 2012, his TED talk on income inequality went viral after TED, citing it as overtly partisan, declined to publish it on their website.
Scott Winship is the Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Previously a fellow at the Brookings Institution, his areas of expertise include living standards and economic mobility, inequality, and insecurity. Earlier in his career, Winship was research manager of the Economic Mobility Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and a senior policy advisor at Third Way. His research has been published in National Affairs, National Review, The Wilson Quarterly, Breakthrough Journal, and Real Clear Markets, among other outlets.