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  1. What explains the recent radical increase in income inequality in America and the West over the past few generations? Why is the middle class shrinking so rapidly? Why is the upper class becoming so superrich? Why does the upper 2% own the majority of the private wealth in America? What is the standard and accepted Objectivist explanation for all of this? My reading of history indicates that ever since the advent of the nation-state 5000 years ago, about 95% of the populace has been lower class peasants, with maybe 3% middle class tradesmen and skilled laborers, and maybe 2% upper class political and religious leaders who mostly got their money via economic monopoly, inheritance, land seizure, general theft, dictatorship, etc. But once freedom, capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1700s, the middle class burgeoned in Western Civiliation. Wealth accumulated and grew radically in the middle class for two centuries -- seemingly a social good. (But is it?) And yet, starting in about the 1960s, wealth began to accumulate in the upper class, while the absolute size of the middle class shrank from maybe 80% to 65%, and while the relative wealth of the middle class also declined. The lower class also increased in size, and their relative share of the national wealth also declined. Now, this is a quick summary of Western economics, but I think I'm being fair and accurate. (If not, someone please correct me!) So... Why is all this happening? Why is this new social evil upon us (if it is, based on Thomas Sowell's "cosmic justice") which is so inimical to freedom, and which lends itself so well to pro-Big Brother rhetoric and ideology? Why is the standard nonsensical socialist/communist claim of "the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer" suddenly true? Clearly this has something to do with the radical expansion of the welfare state from WWI to the 1960s. But what is the detailed and insightful explanation for this? What is the current best libertarian or Objectivist explanation for it?
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