12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An astonishing eye opener,
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This review is from: The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Paperback)
This book explains what you possibly already know - that economic policy is not guided by economic theory but by vested interests: politics, lobbyists, the super-rich. It explains how and why, and it debunks the myths of modern day ultra capitalism - such as, wealth creators create wealth that 'trickles down' to the rest of us. In fact the top 1% are getting richer and richer while the rest of us are stagnating or getting poorer. What is actually happening is that the super wealthy are all too often creating their wealth not by doing anything that has socially useful consequences but by hoovering it up from the rest of us.
This is the essence of Stiglitz's argument: that inequality is incapacitating our economies; 99% of us are better off when there is greater equality. When I say 'us' it is the citizens of the USA and UK who have lost the most in the name of supposed free market capitalism.
What struck me most about the book is that the situation has gone beyond traditional notions of right and left in politics. When 99% of us stand to gain from a different economic regime you understand that the lines are dramatically redrawn. Stiglitz claims that the super rich have achieved this position without most of us being aware of it happening. I must admit, as someone who has long believed that a world with less inequality would be more at peace with itself, and who is interested in politics and economics, I was surprised to learn exactly how bad things had got.
The most depressing aspect for me is the lack of control governments seem to have anymore. In a world of increasingly globalised corporations and capital movements, and politics infested with relentless lobbying, governments are increasingly emasculated - Stiglitz does an excellent job of warning of the threat to democracy this entails.
Incidentally, it is not a socialist doctrine as some would no doubt suggest; it is a wake up call for capitalism itself, in that it needs to learn how to work for all its citizens, not just the top 1%.