Video Friday: Joseph Stiglitz Discusses Elite 1% & U.S. Free-Fall

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, Joseph E. Stiglitz in May Vanity Fair, discusses the fact that the top 1% now control 40% of our wealth.

The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance)…

  • Growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible…
  • Many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy…
  • A modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology…

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…

Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers.Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment—things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care…

Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important…

Interview on Democracy Now! begins about 2 minutes in.

Part 2:

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