Social capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. Steven Pearlstein, in his Sept. 9 Business column, “Yes, it could happen again. The flaws of American capitalism invite cycles of booms and busts,” made the important point that when economic inequality rises above some point, it contributes to loss of social capital, which, in turn, imposes a drag on economic growth and increases the risk of economic instability.
Missing from Mr. Pearlstein’s analysis, however, was an acknowledgement of how policies and politicians can affect social capital. For example, President Trump’s most lasting legacy may be the erosion of our country’s stock of social capital. Even if unintentionally, his administration has achieved this result by undermining the rule of law; dividing our citizenry by race, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc.; sowing distrust in public institutions, the media and the scientific community; questioning readily verifiable facts; and promoting a worldview in which all human transactions are seen in purely zero-sum terms.
Keith Kozloff, Takoma Park