Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stiglitz Tells Us the Redistribution Fairy is Dead, but She Still Lives in Economists’ Fantasies « naked capitalism

Stiglitz Tells Us the Redistribution Fairy is Dead, but She Still Lives in Economists’ Fantasies « naked capitalism

Vanity Fair has published a short article by Joseph Stiglitz on how the top 1% aren’t merely taking way more than their fair share, but how they are increasingly organizing the world to make that into a self-perpetuating system. After debunking the idea that the new economic order is a function of merit, as opposed to socialism for the rich and rent extraction, he turns to its destructive features, including:

perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead…..

The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes…

Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent.

Read the full story at Naked Capitalism Here

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