Income Inequality: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
with Eliot Spitzer
Offered in partnership with the National Archives at NYC
Monday, December 2, 2019

This master class asks profound questions about capitalism. What role does money play in human motivation? How much wealth is too much wealth? Should all incomes be equal? We’ll also take a look under capitalism’s hood and examine the markets that keep it going. Are they a good thing? Do they work? When they don’t work, how can they be tempered and controlled? Our discussions will be informed by readings from John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, John Kenneth Galbraith, among others.

Eliot Spitzer was born and raised in New York. He attended the Horace Mann School, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Early in his career, while with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, he successfully prosecuted senior members of the Gambino organized crime family. He later was elected to two terms as attorney general of New York. His prosecutions against financial fraud and on behalf of environmental protection and civil rights set a new standard for law enforcement. Time magazine named him “Crusader of the Year” (2002); “60 Minutes” called him the “Sheriff of Wall Street” (2003); and the Financial Times named him “Man of the Year” (2004). He was elected governor of New York in 2006. His administration restructured the financial systems of New York’s education and healthcare sectors. Since then, he has been an anchor on CNN’s “In the Arena,” hosted Current TV’s “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” taught at CCNY, and written for Slate. He currently runs Spitzer Enterprises, the real estate development firm founded by his father.









This slideshow requires JavaScript.






Photos by Pat Swain.


“It was an interesting day. It was valuable to listen to a former governor speak about issues that are complex, controversial, and affect all of us and to meet a diverse group of teachers whose work relates to the day’s topic.”
Amber Joseph, East Side Community School


Assigned readings:


Galbraith, John Kenneth. A Short History of Financial Euphoria. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.
Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice, Rev. ed., 11–27. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999.
Spitzer, Eliot. Protecting Capitalism: Case by Case, 9–17, 51–64, 107–9, 154–67. RosettaBooks, LLC., 2013.
Weisman, Steven R. “Epilogue.” In The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln to Wilson, the Fierce Battles over Money and Power That Transformed the Nation, 349–67. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.


Master Class Fellows