Inequality is a choice.
The United States bills itself as the land of opportunity, a place where anyone can achieve success and a better life through hard work and determination. But the facts tell a different story - the US today lags behind most other developed nations in measures of inequality and economic mobility. For decades, wages have stagnated for the majority of workers while economic gains have disproportionately gone to the top 1 percent. Education, housing, and health care - essential ingredients for individual success - are growing ever more expensive. Deeply rooted structural discrimination continues to hold down women and people of color, and more than one-fifth of all American children now live in poverty. These trends are on track to become even worse in the future.
Some economists claim that today's bleak conditions are inevitable consequences of market outcomes, globalization, and technological progress. If we want greater equality, they argue, we have to sacrifice growth. This is simply not true. American inequality is the result of misguided structural rules that actually constrict economic growth. We have stripped away worker protections and family support systems, created a tax system that rewards short-term gains over long-term investment, offered a de facto public safety net to too-big-to-fail financial institutions, and chosen monetary and fiscal policies that promote wealth over full employment.
©2015 Joseph E. Stiglitz (P)2015 Random House Audio
Stiglitz' fundamental thesis and underlying assertions remain as true and urgent as in 2013 when he published The Price of Inequality. Indeed, the urgency has only increased since then. However, the book reads like a never-ending stream of strong statements but lacks accessible supporting evidence and examples. Additionally, the major and minor points don't come together in a cohesive dialog that audio listeners will easily follow. I highly recommend Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich as a much better book covering nearly all the same points as Stiglitz. However, I will grant that Stiglitz states at that beginning that this is essentially a report that was prepared for policy makers. It reads like a report ... kind of dull. All that said, I would still recommend this book to anyone looking for solid coverage of the breadth and depth of underlying problems in our economy, and the fact that the RULES make a bigger difference than we commonly hear.
And incredibly clear and straightforward explication about the problems are economy faces and the solution: how to change our incentives from short-term profit taking to long-term growth and investment.
This is all about creating a more equitable society where the middle class can excel and where the poor can be helped out of poverty into productive lives. It requires all kind of changes which will be difficult to enact. It's a complex subject with many facets that have brought us to the inequitable situation that exists. This book would be better understood if read rather than using audible, due to the complexity.
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