–A popular reduced-form narrative pivots on the three factors grinding Western economies into the ground.

For a Nobel laureate in economics, the three are: rising income inequality, money power in politics, and systemic tax avoidance by the superrich and globalized corporations. For a German sociologist the three are: that rising inequality in income and wealth, but also the declining economic growth in the West and the equally persistent rise in overall indebtedness in leading capitalist states. Not quite so for a community organizer from Ohio: In addition to inequality and economic stagnation, there’s the third, global climate change.

–And then there’s your List of Three, and my List of Three, and all those other Three’s, when the fact—the patently obvious fact—is that any such top-of-the-list thinking stops short of any needful. Do said factors explain 90% of the variance, or most, much, maybe? In the absence of any such qualification, we end on par with those who talked of the pantheon of seven wise men—for sure, there were seven, though just who they were we still can’t agree.

–But, still, there’s that special fourth in both series. . .

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