And the Fed and corporate governance structures. That is the implication of his column where he describes the debate over inequality as a debate "between people who think you need strong government to defeat oligarchy and those who think you need open competition."

Actually, his side in this debate thinks you need a strong government to enforce patent and copyright monopolies, jailing any potential competitors. It believes you need a strong government, in the form of a central bank, to slow the economy any time the demand for labor gives ordinary workers enough bargaining power to push up wages and demand better conditions from employers. And Brooks believes that the government should set rules for corporate governance that essentially allow top management to set its own pay, since it effectively controls the boards that set their pay.

It is these and other man-made rules that have given us an economy in which a very small segment of the population enjoys the bulk of the gains from the economic growth of the last thirty five years. (You can get more of the story in The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.) All of these rules could easily be different. For example, we could rely on tax credits rather than patent monopolies to fund research along with more direct funding through entities like the National Institutes of Health (which is strongly supported by the pharmaceutical industry).

It is undoubtedly convenient for Brooks' side to pretend that the rules put in place to redistribute income upward are simply the natural workings of the market, but it is not true. It's unfortunate that the NYT can't find a columnist who would defend these rules on their merits rather than make an absurd claim that they are somehow facts of nature.