By Chet Yarbrough
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
Narrated by Paul Boehmer
Who in America believes that they are not paying a price for American inequality?
Joseph Stiglitz is over zealous in his generalizations about the American economy. Stiglitz makes some good points but he rants about inequality without offering politically accomplishable goals that will change the direction of the American economy.
When families face the fear of being turned out of their home, ranting is not helpful. Stiglitz rubs salt in the wound of families making monthly payments on a devalued asset that is the biggest part of their net worth.
Who in America does not believe inequality has an American family price and that government has failed to protect them? Who in America does not feel that they have been victimized by investment bankers and mortgage lenders that duped the general public with financial derivatives and faulty lending practices. Who in America does not feel CEOs of these organizations got away with a crime and reaped unconscionable financial reward for their greed?
Joseph Stiglitz screams too loud about the dire condition and mistakes of the American political system and economy in “The Price of Inequality”. It is not a matter of disagreeing with what he has to say but more about a presentation that burns one’s ears and twists a knife in one’s brain.
It is tiresome to rehash the obvious. It is also trite to suggest that $1 for 1 vote is going to be much different from 1 vote for 1 person because the nature of American’ government is to follow the lead of whoever yells the loudest. American government is run by special-interest minorities and well-financed lobbyists representing big money interests.
The majority of Americans are apathetic or indifferent in most elections. The apathy and indifference to voting is because there is little correlation between what people believe and what government does. Most Americans just want to know the rules of the game and be left alone.
One can certainly agree with Stiglitz explanation of how money is corrupting American government. Money is also corrupting American enterprise. Google and Amazon are not America’s friends; they are corporations that want to monopolize consumers. Google’s and Amazon’s method of monopolization is more subtle than advertisers for General Motors or Microsoft or Apple but money is spent by internet conglomerates to customize appeal to every human being that wants anything.
Stiglitz blames Obama for kowtowing to the banking and investment industry; without questioning what a President is capable of doing. This is not a monarchy. Congress and the Supreme Court play their roles, not to balance government through compromise as originally intended, but to carry out their own agenda; i.e. an agenda designed, financially supported, and promoted by special interests.
Obama kowtowed to the drug industry to pass Obama Care. How else could that legislation have been passed? Is America better off? One tends to be skeptical.
Whenever a well-financed political special interest group thinks they know what is best for others, enacted legislation seems to serve the few rather than the many. Obama Care may be a foot in the door for the uninsured or, catastrophically, another special interest boondoggle. The fault is not in the idea but in the execution.
There is the rub–execution. Stiglitz argues that taxes need to be raised on the rich; tax loop holes eliminated; subsidized polluting industries taxed more equitably; yada, yada, yada. How is that going to happen as long as money supports lobbyists that feed at the trough of campaign financiers and rich industries? What electoral aspirant is going to be elected that argues the oil industry should lose its tax subsidies, the rich should be taxed more, and government should regulate the finance industry?
It is easy to agree with Stiglitz argument that government has to invest in America. That has worked many times in American history; particularly in the great depression and after WWII when American soldiers returned home. The key to recovery is government spending for infrastructure and education.
What stops this from happening is, just as Stiglitz argues, moneyed’ interest, whether it is 1% of the American population or some other arbitrary percentage. An aristocracy of wealth schemes to maintain its power and privilege. The fear of increasing national debt is a red herring. America is strong enough to grow out of its debt just as it has after every war or past financial crises.
To achieve tax reform requires a change in the election process; a change in political culture. Short of revolution, only education and the energy of a new generation of Americans is going to accomplish any constructive change.
A reader or listener of “The Price of Inequality” feels like Joseph Stiglitz is Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Don Quixote dies in the end and windmills keep turning.