Deeply chilling sentences

I am starkly amazed: A very serious economics book on inequality, Thomas Piketty’s Capital, is currently Amazon’s #1 best selling book. Whether you like this book or not, the fact that it beats out Heaven is for Real should give you some hope for the country.

Before we get too giddy, a new paper by Derek Neal:

On any given day in 2010, almost one in ten black men ages 20-39 were institutionalized [in a prison or mental hospital], and rates of institutionalization were actually slightly higher among black men in 2000.

…[R]ates among less-educated black men have reached levels that were unthinkable prior to 1980. …[A]mong black men in 2010, more than 1 in 6 high school dropouts in their forties were institutionalized on any given day.

These numbers do not simply reflect a significant number of men who are serving extremely long sentences. Admission rates for new court commitments are now also noteworthy for this age group.

Punchline for the inequality averse: While we spare some time for Piketty’s global wealth tax, we could also think about ways not to imprison the majority of American black men in their lifetimes.