Nicholas Kristof is a seasoned columnist for the New York Times (NYT) and a two time Pulitzer prize winner. His main focus areas are, “human rights, women’s rights, health, and global affairs”(Kristof). In “America’s Stacked Deck,” an opinion piece on the inequality problem in America, Kristof urges dedicated readers of the NYT to consider solutions for income equality instead of focusing on who or what caused the problem in the first place. Kristof uses a variety of sources ranging from academic papers to quotes in order to provide evidence that income inequality exists, Americans shouldn’t tolerate inequality, and reducing money’s power in politics might fix the problem. His use of highly credible statistical resources and quotes from influential figures draw readers in by appealing to their intellectas well as their emotions in order to convince them to fight income inequality from a solutions- based perspective. Kristof’s first source relating to the existence of income inequality comes from Robert Putnam of Harvard University.
Kristof summarizes the analysis when he states, “A dumb rich kid is now more likely to graduate from college than a smart poor kid” (Kristof). Kristof’s conversational tone and simplified perspective is a persuasive tactic that appeals to ordinary Americans by making the facts easily understood and accompanied by a strong sense of right and wrong. In another instance, Kristof says, “The 20 wealthiest Americans…are worth more than the poorer half of the American population” (Kristof). In this instance, Kristof takes this statistic and translates it as it’s most simple explanation so that the reader can quickly assess the point Kristof is making. These statistics are also meant to incite anger within the reader for the stark inequality present. In order to combat readers who may have full faith in the Capitalistic system, Kristof appeals to their logic by providing evidence that it’s against human nature to want economic inequality. He relies on studies to prove this point by paraphrasing an analysisconducted by Michael Norton and Dan Airely.
Kristof says, “Two business school professors showed people charts of the distribution of wealth in egalitarian Sweden and in highly unequal America and asked them which kind of society they would prefer to live in, without saying which country each chart represented. Some 92 percent of Americans chose Sweden’s distribution” (Kristof). Through his use of the words “egalitarian” and “highly unequal,” Kristof is trying to emphasize the inequity in the United States when compared to other highly functioning economies. Through this particular comparison his argument is strong because Sweden is a developed country and serves as an example of a healthy economy that also has equal wealth distribution. This moves the reader from skepticism about there being solutions to a reassurance that equality and a wealthy economy can coexist. Kristof’s own solution calls for a political campaign revamp. He states, “a starting point should be to reduce the influence of money in politics” (Kristof). He backs up his claim by providing evidence that pharmaceutical companies are making huge donations to political figures. He uses a simple comparison to personify Big Pharma as a figurative “boogey-man” whose influence in the political sphere is the reason wealth is unevenly distributed. “It (pharmaceutical industry) has more lobbyists than there are members of Congress- to bar the government from bargaining for drug prices in Medicare” (Kristof).
Kristof portrays the pharmaceutical industry as a powerful boss who’s blackmailing the economy. These exanmples display the strongest of Kristof’s argument that a solution-based approach to income inequality is the best route, but he also includes a few soft sources based on his own political opinions. ” Yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top (Kristof). This quote comes from presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, a favorite of democrats. When a national figure states a national opinion, it carries weight with the reader because this person is widely trusted in society. Kristof’s use of Clinton’s quote displays an obvious bias for the democratic candidates.He states, “A President 1Trump or President Cruz would build walls and water board suspected terrorists, a President Clinton or President Sanders would raise the minimum wage and invest in at-risk children” (Kristof). He only uses the negative aspects of the republican campaigns, while only using the positive aspects for the democratic campaigns in a clear attempt to sway the readers to the democratic side. In my final argumentative essay, Kristof’s NYT piece will serve as a source for why income inequality does not need a villain, but instead a hero to save the United States economy from a further widening of wealth distribution.