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UK To Hold Conference On Economic & Political Inequality


The growing gap between rich and poor and the shrinking of the middle class will be the highlight of a special conference this week at UK.

Panelists and guest speakers will weigh in on a number of related topics including raising the minimum wage, the decline of unions, and poverty in Appalachia.  Ron Formisano, William T. Bryan Chair of American History at UK is the chief organizer of the event.

“There’s a new book by a very famous French economist Thomas Piketty which is being reviewed everywhere that is predicting that maybe it’s almost impossible to reverse this growing gap between the rich and poor and a shrinking middle class.  We need to be aware of it at a minimum.  That’s the first step,  just broadening the recognition.”

Formisano has assembled an array of local and national guest speakers to talk about some aspect of the problem.

“Inequality affects the whole society.  It influences the quality of life for everybody.  Look at the decline of public institutions.  Look at the cuts in education in Kentucky.  That’s got a lot to do with rising inequality.  It’s got a lot to do with that distribution of income.  It’s got much to do with a tax system that politicians are unwilling to confront head on.”

Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Ellen Goodman delivers the keynote lecture on caring for the elderly Thursday night at 7:30 in Memorial Hall.  The conference continues all day on Friday in the Worsham Theatre.  All events are free and open to the public. 

Here's the complete itinerary:

Thursday March 27: 7:30 pm - Memorial Chapel (Memorial Hall)

  • Introductions: Mark Kornbluh, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Ron Formisano William T. Bryan Chair of American History
  • Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist lecture: “Inequality: Working Moms, Designated Daughters, and the Risks of Caregiving”

Friday: March 28 - Worsham Theater, Student Center

  • 9:30-10:15 a.m. Prof. Ron Eller, UK: Inequality in Appalachia (with attention to racial issues) 10:15-10:30 Comment: Jamie Lucke, Lexington Herald Leader
  • 10:30-11:15 Prof. Bruce Laurie, UMass Emeritus, The Decline of Unions and the Rise of Inequality 11:15-11:30 Comment: Mike Matuszak, Former Secretary-Treasurer, Local 227 United Food and Commercial Workers of America
  • 11:30-11:45 Q & A Audience

Noon-1:30 pm Lunch for participants: 245 Patterson Office Tower

  • 1:30-2:15: Prof. David Courtwright, University of North Florida: The Culture War and the Rise of Inequality 2:15-2:30 Comment: Sen. Kathy Stein, Family Court Judge
  • 2:30-2:45 Q & A Audience

2:45-3:15 coffee break

  • 3:15-4:00 Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research: Inequality, Causes, Consequences
  • 4:00-4:30 Q & A and Remarks by Participants Address any questions to conference organizer Ron Formisano, History, University of Kentucky rform2@email.uky.edu

Bitten by the radio bug as a teenager, Alan Lytle got his start start more than 30 years ago volunteering in Clermont County, Ohio for WOBO-FM. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Broadcasting from the University of Cincinnati and worked at a variety of radio stations in the Cincinnati market, then made the move to Lexington in the mid-1990s.
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