As mentioned in an earlier post, we’re hearing a lot these days about dangerous "pitchfork populists" storming the barricades, as though the public’s anger at Wall Street’s greed will throw an otherwise just and equitable system out of whack. The best succinct rejoinder I’ve seen to this misplaced anguish appears here, on the letters page of today’s New York Times, from the sociologist Herbert Gans:

 

In the long run, the furor over A.I.G. bailouts may turn out to be the first public outcry over the country’s humongous income and wealth inequality. Perhaps political support will now begin to build for developing the considerably more progressive income and wealth taxes needed to help pay the country’s bills in future years.