Different Approaches to the Issue of Income Inequality in Two Essays

Last Updated: 25 Apr 2023
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The two essays, “Inequality has been going on forever” by David Leonhardt and “RIP, the Middle Class” by Edward McClelland both tackle the issue of income inequality but do so in different approaches Both author's target audience is middle-class Americans. Although they share a common point, they differ greatly in the way they express their ideas, McClelland takes a more personal approach, using real-life experience examples along with statistics and mood shifts, while Leonhardt takes the broader approach, using mostly references and evidence from many different sources to back up his claim. McClelland argues that the government is the main cause of inequality in the middle class, but Leonhardt contradicts his claim, stating that inequality is a choice rather than an inevitability, McClelland’s piece is credible, logical, and provides effective reasoning to convince the audience while Leonhardt’s piece though credible due to the vast evidence to back him up, he falls weak with lack of real-life experiences, relying solely on evidence.

Edward McClelland is more credible as he is very experienced with the topic of inequality having lived through it, making him far more convincing to his audience. First of all, both McClelland and Leonhardt use ethos to gain trust of their audiences. McClelland obviously gets major credibility to write the subject because he is a man that experienced income inequality growing up, He mentions a story his history teacher told him about a student that dropped out of school, and a year or so later came back to see him, pointing out the window at a brand new Camaro, this real life experience example provides his audience with convincing information. He also reminisces on the memories of how back then, prosperity was distributed equally among social classes.

He states how his neighbors had many expensive commodities only obtainable by people with nice paying jobs. The fact that he can reminisce on his past and give his audience real-life examples, Makes him a credible source for the topic, Leonhardt, on the other hand, although he may have experienced income inequality growing up also, he does not incorporate his personal experiences into his writing He relies plainly on evidences and hypothetical situations. He gets his evidence and research from the book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, written by Thomas Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics. His use of evidences gives him credibility but his lack of personal experience hurts his credibility. In all, both authors establish ethos, but McClelland does a betterjob. Along with establishing credibility, both authors use pathos to a certain degree to appeal to the emotions of their audiences.

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McClelland states that Capitalism has been doing exactly what it‘s designed to do: concentrating wealth in the ownership class, while providing the mass of workers with just enough wages to feed, house and clothe themselves. When he says just enough wages to feed, house and clothe themselves, he is appealing to emotion by giving his audience a sense of how little money was going to the hardworking people in comparison to the high amount going to the already wealthy. Another instance of pathos is when he makes these statements: Steelworkers showed up for first shift to find padlocks on mill gates, autoworkers were laid off for years, the lucky ones were transferred to plants far from home and the unlucky never built another car. His use of words like lucky and unlucky when pertaining to a person‘s livelihood, makes his audience feel sympathy, McClelland succeeds in appealing to the emotions of his audience mainly by not overdoing it by coming up with sob stories,but instead giving his audience a good since of the issues, and not making himself appear biased.

Leonhardt, like McClelland, does not focus on appealing to his audience’s emotion, therefore he doesn’t incorporate much pathos into his writing, although he still uses some. For example, when he states Inequality is less an inevitability than a choice. Just as societies have conquered many of the challenges of the natural world 7 making childbirth safe for women or beating back common illnesses that once were frequent killers — we can alter the course of inequality, too. In addition, when he says rising inequality is a trend, but one we have helped create, and one we can still change, It is though he is establishing a sense of hope, and that appeals to the emotions of his audience. Both authors establish pathos and in similar and contrasting ways, but overall McClelland does it better.

Finally, Logos is the last rhetorical strategy that both authors use, and right off the back it can be told that Leonhardt uses this strategy much more than McClelland. Leonhardt uses vast references, statistics, evidence, and even a chart to back up his claim. His incorporation of these, appeals to the logic of his audience, His use of one of the most ambitious and best- reviewed books on the subject of inequality “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” makes him come across as very logical and reliable, In addition , his use of a chan showing the comparative data on incomes in different countries just adds to his overall logical appeal.

Leonhardt's use of statistics such as the top marginal income tax rates decreasing from 90 percent in the 1950s to 396 percent today, and his incorporation of a hypothetical villiage, explaining the similarity in income between a large farmer and a small farmer, adds even more to his logical appeal. Similarly, McClelland is also very logical, but he uses mostly statistics when appealing to logic, rather than references. McClelland uses a statistic, telling us how the wealthiest 1 percent took in 19 percent of America’s income, the highest share since 1928. In addition, he uses a statistic that 24 percent of college graduates define the American dream as not being in debt, meaning they are not trying to get ahead; they’re just trying to get to zero.

Not to mention his statistic that, “Most auto plants now demand a few years in junior college”, McClelland’s research is commendable, logical, and very reliable, but in the end, Leonhardt has him beat. To conclude, even though both essays discuss the issue of income inequality, McClelland was better in his use of ethos and pathos, while Leonhardt was more balanced in his use of logos. This two out of three win obviously makes McClelland much more reliable and believable, despite Leonhardts many references McClelland just has more real-life experience in the subject than Leonhardt and that really takes the cake In all, both authors attacked the subject well but McClelland did it much better.

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Different Approaches to the Issue of Income Inequality in Two Essays. (2023, Apr 25). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/different-approaches-to-the-issue-of-income-inequality-in-two-essays/

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