[A]t some point, when the problem is not just Uber but driverless Uber, when radiologists are losing their jobs to A.I., then we’re going to have to figure out how do we maintain a cohesive society and a cohesive democracy in which productivity and wealth generation are not automatically linked to how many hours you put in, where the links between production and distribution are broken, in some sense. Because I can sit in my office, do a bunch of stuff, send it out over the Internet, and suddenly I just made a couple of million bucks, and the person who’s looking after my kid while I’m doing that has no leverage to get paid more than ten bucks an hour.”In other words, the problem with the distribution of wealth in this country is that the people who receive and pay for services with their own money have a different judgment of their worth than the valuation that the smart and virtuous people would like to impose on the rest of us. How else can you explain why some guy who writes popular material enjoyed by millions of people with disposable income can get paid more than someone who provides a straightforward temporary service to a single family that can be pulled off by almost anyone? Why not pay the childcare worker $10 million and the popular author $10? Surely they'd both keep doing their jobs tomorrow and next week, right? (Not to mention, Mr. President, that if you feel guilty about accepting the $10 million you could always decline it instead of bragging about it.)
Much of the rest of the article bemoans the fact that voters don't have to agree with the smart people any more, as if they ever did. The President is appalled that certain things can be said publicly now without the speaker's losing any chance of public support. He can say something like that without reflecting for a moment on how surprised half the country was to find that a man could win the White House after being exposed as the acolyte of Saul Alinsky or the Rev. Wright. I'm not sure it will ever occur to him that those parallel situations could ever be more than a "false equivalence."