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By Sylvia Lettice Thrupp

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Both liberals and conservatives have something positive to contribute to the process of renewal. One of the secrets of our success as a democracy is our centrism and grounding in what one might describe as “Chinese menu pragmatism”—political positions comprised of choosing one part from column A (conservative) and one from column B (liberal). For many intellectuals and journalists, Chinese menu thinking represents ideological incoherence. They prefer pure internally consistent positions—pro-life or pro-choice, progun or anti-gun, pro-voucher or anti-voucher.

During this period, incomes of the top 5 percent of the population dramatically increased, even as middle-class wages barely kept pace with inflation. The result has been a major increase in income inequality and a pronounced upward shift in distribution of both income and wealth. S. 11 The winner-take-all economy threatens to undo the critical social progress of the last hundred years and return us to a quasi–Robber Baron economy, where the rich control an increasing portion of society’s wealth and resources, while those who do the lion’s share of labor in America increasingly fail to share in the benefits of economic growth.

S. 7 100% 35 0 Ϫ4 Ϫ14 Source: Congressional Budget Office, Effective Federal Tax Rates: 1979–2001, April 2004. S. household income and after-tax household income. in any single year. But these unusual circumstances would be counterbalanced in other years so that the fixed level would be maintained over any extended period. Appropriately, the democratic process would be utilized by citizens and their governments to set the priorities that would determine how the fixed percentage of the GDP would be spent to fulfill the identified objectives of society.

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