The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future
A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz.
America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. In this best-selling book, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that have stifled true, dynamic capitalism. Along the way he examines the effect of inequality on our economy, our democracy, and our system of justice. Stiglitz explains how inequality affects and is affected by every aspect of national policy, and with characteristic insight he offers a vision for a more just and prosperous future, supported by a concrete program to achieve that vision.
Stiglitz argues that inequality is self-perpetuating, that it is produced by the vast amount of political power the wealthy hold to control legislative and regulatory activity. He does not believe that globalization and technological changes are at the heart of differences in wealth in the U.S. "While there may be underlying economic forces at play,” he writes, “politics have shaped the market, and shaped it in ways that advantage the top at the expense of the rest.” Stiglitz blames rent-seeking for causing the inequality, with the wealthy using their power to shape monopolies, incur favorable treatment by the government, and pay low taxes. The end result is not only morally wrong but also hurts the productivity in the economy.
Stiglitz criticizes many conservative commentators who believe free markets are the solution by pointing out that reducing the estate tax and deregulating campaign contributions act to restrict competition and give corporations undue power in politics. While he promotes the idea that a free market is good for society if it is competitive, he states that the government needs to regulate it to be beneficial. If that doesn't happen, the powerful corporations will use leverage to profit at the expense of the majority. According to Stiglitz, concentrating market power in too few hands is just as bad as excessive regulation. (Wikipedia)