The Price of Inequality
Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz explains why we are experiencing such destructively high levels of inequality - and why this is not inevitable
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I agree with the seeming majority of other reviewers, this is an excellent book and deserves to be read. It is indeed rather repetitive in places. On the other hand, there are many examples where the author explains with such lucent and simple prose why bad ideas are bad and are hurting the economy, that it's beautiful, although at the same time very frustrating - isn't anyone in power reading this stuff?? For myself, I can only conclude that there is indeed a class war going on, on the part of the rich to shut everyone else out. It is well understood that owners benefit from high unemployment in the short term, giving them leverage to lower wages or other forms of compensation without losing productivity. In the long term of course this leads to societal breakdown if not outright revolution. But who takes the long term any more?
One point that does bother me, as with other economists the author downplays or ignores the role of cheap energy as a driver of wealth production in the post-WWII world. When the US hit peak oil in the 1970s, world oil prices went up almost immediately as OPEC now had the economic leverage to raise those prices without the US keeping prices low with its own supply. Although higher oil prices raise profits, they also raise costs for just about everything we buy including food, clothing, housing etc. I have yet to see a hard-core economist explain how we can expand "wealth" distribution to the entire population, even with fairer tax codes, etc, in the face of higher intrinsic costs of production of all goods. The economists who do in fact address rising oil prices and coming oil shortages, seem to think on the whole that endless growth is impossible. If the human population keeps growing, but total wealth does not, then obviously people overall will get poorer, even if some ("capitalists" say) get richer.