Sunday, June 10, 2012

The US is still the land of opportunity, right? Not so fast, folks

Joseph Stiglitz, who used to be a pure pro-free traitor, has long since found that maybe those trade treaties and gutting of the industrial base was not such a great idea--though he continues to deride mercantile solutions that are working well for China, India and Brazil.

On purely domestic policy, however, Stiglitz has definitely found his inner Michael Harrington. Stiglitz is saying loudly and clearly that inequality in America has reached a point where "old Europe" has more social mobility than the U.S. He also says a rich person's child in the U.S. has a better chance of remaining in the upper class even with little higher education or not doing well at higher education than a lower class child who excels in higher education, even at elite colleges.

Still, one thing not dealt with in the interview or the article I link to below is the anxiety in the middle and even upper middle class where college debt incurred by students eats away at many of the advantages of a college education, especially at any non-elite college. Stiglitz does, however, hit that issue spot on in his book, "The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future" (see pages 94, 95, for example).

Stiglitz's policy prescription is also something both Romney's and Obama's advisers and Obama and Romney are against: Stiglitz calls for redistributing the wealth which has accrued to the top 1%, and instead pursuing mass stimulus in the form of jobs to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, subsidizing education opportunities for the middle class as well as poor, and research and development of new technologies, particularly with respect to energy consumption (solar and wind, for example). Imagine that? I wonder who else says something like that...:-)

Read the article and watch the video here.

It is in this fundamental issue that the two parties have failed our nation. We as citizens are certainly responsible, too. Our binary voting patterns are a main symptom of that responsibility. We foolishly assume Obama must really be agreeing with us and Stiglitz when in fact he does not. And never will. Never. Instead, Obama continues to rely upon banker Geithner and various Goldman Sachs and Citibank executives. Stiglitz has been left out in the cold, like Krugman, Robert Reich, Dean Baker and others. As Stiglitz said early on about the Obama administration advisers, at the time Obama was pushing through policies to benefit banks, not Americans as a whole, Obama's advisers are "either in the pocket of the banks or they're incompetent."

Wild note: After the video, the Scottrade ad was playing Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" in the background. Wild indeed! I love that song, and have long loved Rod Argent's work, dating back to his leadership with Chris White in the Zombies.

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