Morals, decisions, and the market that is not neutral

Posted: January 2, 2014 in Uncategorized
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A friend told me that I could not not read Joseph Stiglitz’s book, The Price of Inequality (Norton, 2013), so I took him at his word. He was right; the Nobel Prize winner in economics has written something true and dangerous. In fact, I’m surprised he is still alive. People who risk telling the truth in the ways he has often end up dying for their honesty and courage.

In short, Stiglitz documents the fast-growing gap between a very small but enormously wealthy and powerful contingent of Americans and the rest of the population. It is a gap unknown in other western style democracies around the world, one only exceeded by totalitarian dictatorships and oligarchies. It is a gap that is the largest the United States has ever known and is growing larger. It is a gap engendered, protected by the resources of those at the tippy-top. And it is a gap that creates huge social instability that threatens all, including the privileged point at the top of the pyramid.

The great financial crisis of 2007 and the recession that has followed showcased this disparity and the unfairness that fills our entire financial and social system: Mega-bonuses for failing CEOs; bailouts of those who risked the country’s prosperity for the sake of greed with the tax dollars of those most hurt; deceptive tax code and legislation secured by armies of lobbyists, attorneys and campaign contributions; the dismantling of the social safety net while lowering taxes and creating tax loopholes for the very richest; laying off workers as the corporation makes enormous profit and pays outsized salaries and bonuses to those at the top. This list goes on. And they are legitimized, these practices, by creating mythologies that the more we insure that the very richest are protected the 99% will, too. But it doesn’t work that way. It never has.

For in depth exploration of the way that the top vacuums all the resources from the bottom, how deregulation allows exploiting by a market that is far from neutral, how our political process is controlled by the most powerful who always devise laws and decisions around their own interests, including instrumentalities like the Federal Reserve, read on. It’s chilling, but deserves our attention.

We have been in peril. It is not getting better and not because of “big government.” Our future as a people is at stake because of an enormous and growing inequality gap, one that is safe-guarded by the most monied and powerful. We now have less of a one person-one vote society and more of a one dollar-one vote society.

I am not promising you a pleasant read with this book. In fact, it tilts to the troubling side. But I can promise an enlightening read. My friend was right, darn him.

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