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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Growing Greed, Income Gap Threaten America

A hardening caste system driven by the insatiable greed of its wealthiest citizens.

America is devolving into a desperate almost Third World society defined by a hardening caste system driven by the insatiable greed of its wealthiest citizens. Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues in his new book The Price Of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future.

This is excerpted from a book review published in the Chicago Tribune July 12, 2012 by Bernard Vaughan. “We are now approaching the level of inequality that marks dysfunctional societies,”  Stiglitz writes. “It is a club that we would distinctly not want to join, including Iran, Jamaica, Uganda and the Philippines.”

Statistics on widening U.S. income inequality are well known, but Stiglitz details them to show the trend has passed into a danger zone.

About 30 years ago, the top 1 percent of income earners received 12 percent of the nation’s income, which could have been unacceptable enough, Stiglitz writes. But by 2007, the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent had reached $1,300,000 while the bottom 20 percent averaged only $17,800.

With the end of the Great Recession, the gap has only widened: The ratio of CEO annual compensation to that of the typical worker in 2010 was 243 to 1, the level it had been before the financial crisis, the author says.

These economic realities imperil America’s future, corrupting basic notions of fairness and justice critical in a thriving democracy.

Such dramatic inequality, according to Stiglitz is the byproduct of a bubble-strewn economy beholden to a deregulated and all-powerful financial industry all too often dictating government policies through its lobbying and money politics.  The author argues that these economic realities imperil America’s future, corrupting basic notions of fairness and justice critical in a thriving democracy. As inequality increases,opportunity decreases and cynicism is ascendant, Stiglitz says.

Alienation has begun to replace motivation,” Stiglitz writes. “Instead of social cohesion we have a new divisiveness.” Stiglitz’s book echoes others released recently by liberal-leaning voices examining America’s struggle to rebound from the financial calamity of 2008, including studies by economists Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs, former President Bill Clinton and filmmaker Charles Ferguson.

Stiglitz, a former Clinton administration and World Bank economist, received the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001 and published a series of popular studies in the last decade starting with Globalization and its Discontents (2002), an attack on the International Monetary Fund’s austerity policies.

While Stiglitz’s book zeros in on the idea of inequality, it follows a similar script. Most of its pages are devoted to how America got where it is as opposed to what it can do to reverse course. Ample blame is assigned to the Reagan administration for ushering in an anti-government zeitgeist that Stiglitz argues has engorged the financial industry at the expense of the middle class. Clinton exacerbated financial deregulation, and President Barack Obama has missed a critical opportunity to rein in Wall Street, the book maintains.

Though Stiglitz teases the reader with solutions, it’s not until late in the book that he outlines his economic reform agenda. With some exceptions, many of his suggestions are similar to those offered by Sachs, Krugman and liberal activists. They face the same steep odds in the current political environment, with Obama and Democrats facing a staunchly conservative Republican Party in Congress, in most states—and even on the Supreme Court, some critics say, after decisions such as Bush versus Gore and Citizens United.

Stiglitz’s ideas often echo the Democrats agenda: tax reform so the wealthy pay more; reining in Wall Street; investing in education, technology and infrastructure; and campaign finance reform. He also argues for tempering globalization, where capital is allowed to migrate to the cheapest labor force and free flow of goods is unimpeded by anything but dollar considerations.

It could be the 1 percent who try to do something about inequality as they realize that their fates are bound to how the other 99 prcent live.

Ultimately, and ironically, Stiglitz says, it could be the 1 percenters who try to do something about inequality as they realize that their fates are bound to how the other 99 prcent live.

Throughout  history, this has been something  that the top 1 percent eventually do learn,” he writes. “Often, however, they learn it too late.”

While you’re waiting around for the 1 percenters to come to their senses, here’s a Free offer that may help you survive and thrive in these difficult economic times. If you have an interest in starting a business of their own, Denny Hatch, a friend and mail order guru has developed 22 Rules for Internet Success and with his permission I would like to send you a copy. It’s yours for the asking: Just shoot me an e-mail: Send me a FREE copy of Denny Hatch’s 22 Rules for Internet Success

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