The New York Times has a blog post and a news article about a Columbia University conference of academics called the "Elites Research Network," which "drew in scholars focused on inequality across academic disciplines, like economics, political science, sociology and history."
From the blog post: "One of the academics at the conference, Sudhir Venkatesh, a professor of sociology at Columbia, argued, 'You have to come in accepting that there will always be poor people in society and there will always be wealthy people in society, and neither of the two reached that status by their own efforts.'"
If Professor Venketesh really believes this, he should also believe that tenured professors at Ivy League universities don't reach that status by their own efforts, either.
From the article:
Jeffrey Winters, associate professor of political science at Northwestern University, talked of the wealthy in America in terms of oligarchy. And he advanced an argument against what he called the "income defense industry." The term referred to the accountants, lawyers and financial advisers employed by the wealthy — and the merely affluent — to manage their financial affairs. Mr. Winters argued that this group was hurting the non-elite by minimizing tax collection. He estimated that $70 billion was lost yearly just from offshore accounts.
No mention from Professor Winters of how much is "lost" in taxes by the tax-exempt nature of Northwestern University and other non-profit educational institutions, by the tax deductions offered to those who donate to them, and by the tax breaks offered to those who pay tuition to them. Not to mention the money extracted from the wealthy in taxes and redistributed to these institutions in the form of research grants, Pell Grants to students, and federally subsidized student loans. Nor is there any mention by Mr. Winters of the lobbyists the universities maintain in Washington to maintain these funding streams and tax advantages, which is an "income defense industry" in its own right, with the income being defended being that of professors such as Mr. Winters, who are as elite, or more so, in their own ways than the rich supposedly elite people they are studying.