The Price Of Inequality: Part 3

In chapters 8-10 of The Price of Inequality, Stigitz concentrates on the battle of the federal budget, monetary policy, and fixing what is described throughout the text as woefully desperate and dire.  He addresses many varied points and somehow misses a few others that some would deem obvious such as what some would describe as rampant corruption in Congress, and, other than the small minority that make up the loose collective of Occupy Wall Street, the rampant apathy of the majority of citizenry that is distracted by the mindless propaganda and distractions of various media.

He discusses the presidential and congressional mistakes made following the Clinton administration when budget policies, tax policies, and expenditure policies were altered and crippled to reflect the belief that Greenspan and Bush desired to reduce the size of government and reduce the government monies that were collected, by reducing the amount collected from the wealthy.  This, in turn, increased the burden on the lower and middle classes.  Such a policy is reminiscent of what appears to be standard policy for social programs in Texas.  Texas has no social programs and they severely limit the programs they do have; try as the people of Texas may want them.  However, in spite of that, Texas has a very well-developed network of non-profit organizations to step in to help most people in need.  Overall, the United States probably has an adequate number of non-profit organizations but they are not as coordinated to work together as well as those in the state of Texas.

The result, after both Bush terms, has been a lopsided budgetary mess that no one seems to want to fix, where one budgetary bandage is placed over another and members of Congress are only interested in grandstanding and fighting than getting anything productive accomplished.  Spending for wars that we should or should not be involved in is treated with more importance and more monies that are borrowed at high interest rates. Monetary gifts and preferences as well as kickbacks are given to oil companies, the banking industry, and the pharmaceutical industries without blinking and without thinking of the immediate or long-term costs.

Stiglitz proposes many solutions that evolve around sincerely fixing the discrepancies in the existing legal structure, raising taxes for those on top, eliminating loopholes and eliminating gifts of natural resources without asking for compensation, and taxing irresponsible actions of corporate America earnestly and financially to pay for those disasters of pollution.  He also faults U.S. monetary policy as well, blaming the banking industry for the creation of financial risk, monies loaned to major banks without conditions, the lack of taxation of the banking industry, and the perpetuation of each bank’s belief that it is “too big to fail.”

However, in spite of all of the solutions that Stiglitz proposes, there seem to be a few solutions that are mysteriously missing.  Some solutions, such as the overthrow of the government that the Black Block of Occupy Wall Street would like to see, are obviously illegal, in spite of Thomas Jefferson’s popular saying that revolution is a healthy antidote for a country every generation or so.  Other glaring absences include the scrapping of all current law and possibly the entire constitution.  In spite his protestations otherwise, he is committed to maintaining some form of the status quo without eliminating the current congress altogether, without eliminating political action committees, without eliminating anything that might inch towards improvement.  His solutions are essentially bandages made to work within the system without any major overhaul.

Source:  Stiglitz, J. (2012). The Price Of Inequality [Amazon Kindle version]. New York: W.W. Norton.