- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393248577
- ISBN-13: 978-0393248579
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 124 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them Hardcover – April 20, 2015
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“[Joseph Stiglitz] is an insanely great economist.”
- Paul Krugman, New York Times
About the Author
Joseph E. Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize–winning economist and the best-selling author of The Great Divide, Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, The Price of Inequality, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy, and Globalization and Its Discontents. He is a columnist for the New York Times and Project Syndicate and has written for Vanity Fair, Politico, The Atlantic, and Harper’s. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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The book is in nine sections. The first section he calls a Prelude because it discusses the 2007-2008 recession and the response to it that built the background for the increasing inequality seen today. The middle sections contain articles describing the disparity, personal reflections from Stiglitz’s life, dimensions of inequality such as student debt and health care, causes for inequality such as a tax system that favors the elite, and consequences of the inequality. The later sections elaborate on his argument that such inequality is not inevitable but is a political choice and explore the international picture in countries like Japan, Australia, Spain, China, Singapore, Scotland, and even Mauritius. The final section consists of articles in which Stiglitz outlines the kinds of actions America should take to combat inequality. In an Afterword, Vanity Fair editor Cullen Murphy interviews Stiglitz responding to conservative critics who claim that the rich create jobs. Each of the nine sections of the book is preceded by a lengthy introduction providing an overview of the topic of that section.
This anthology format has strengths and weaknesses. It allows for the presentation of a broad range of topics relating to inequality, and it is interesting to see how the topics develop over the course of the time period in which the articles were written. On the other hand, since the articles are generally short (Many were op-ed pieces.), readers new to a topic may feel they need for more data or a longer explanation. In addition, because they were written at different times for different publications, there was a great deal of repetition, e.g., Thomas Piketty’s book Capitalism in the Twenty-first Century is discussed at length in at least two of the articles as well as the introduction to Part I.
Readers who want in-depth presentation of Stiglitz’s thinking would probably be happier reading one of his other books, such as The Price of Inequality, that contain more data and a more comprehensive exposition of his ideas, but those who want a broad survey or who already admire him and want to hear more from this influential thinker will welcome this book.
I think Stiglitz's most important contribution is that he (in my opinion) unequivocally refutes the notion that high levels of inequality are simply an unavoidable byproduct of modern capitalism, globalization, growth and technology. All of which have been greatly exploited in every argument possible by neocons! They endlessly spin all these while raking and raking money from the working / middle class. Unlimited talking heads and op eds discuss these topics and lament... sorry things are not better for you all. But this is just how it must be, to live in the good old USA!!!
For a long time, I thought about the vibrant period in the US following WWII. You know building lots of things, basic research, best educational system, large and growing middle class, a huge renaissance following the Depression. I mistakenly attributed this to the extraordinary events during the middle of the 20th century.. two wars and the depression, and a stronger social sense of my parents generation. Which luckily caused the US to come out on top. More 1% bunk!!!!! Please, don't blow me off now, about how lucky the US was that its manufacturing was not destroyed during the war, like in Europe. That was an advantage. And surviving the Depression and WWII, I am sure added to civic backbone. But if you buy the 'good luck' version you just took the Blue pill and never get to see behind the curtain!
Change begins with honesty, and Stiglitz helps with the painful realizations of what sort of society the US has actually become. He manages to do this without bashing, just by using simple facts, for example... no matter if the stock market is 18,000 and unemployment has dropped... if middle / working people earn every year less than they did 25 years ago... that society is not economically healthy. Or, the US health care system must be broken when we spend 2x as much as other countries with universal care, and they produce considerably better outcomes. There is NOOOO rational explanation for that, period! Only a bunch of lame excuses to justify another system constructed to benefit an exploitive few, and does not care a lick for the less well off. Trust me, if you disagree, then either you own lots of pharma stock or have been brain washed!
Stiglitz's book is a starter on deprogramming you! If you do not think that US society is asleep.. ask yourself why do people keep voting against their own interests??? For 35 years the reprogramming and movement away from democracy has been going on, mostly invisible, tiny steps at a time, changes in the tax code, 'unavoidable' reductions of the public educational system, restrictions on voting, financialization of every aspect of life, two generations of bogus enemies that 'must' be fought by US armies, or locking away vast numbers of people for crimes not against society in for profit jails. US society is now weak, in-debt, poorly educated, without much real hope for upward movement, addicted to cheap goods, reality TV, alcohol or drugs. Just the way you want an army of obedient underlings to be... too tired, too drained, and without hope, to be able to offer any real resistance or self mobilization.
Now the good news.. I have heard Stiglitz is collaborating with Piketty on the next book and it will contain extensive information on the French Revolution and actual construction details for guillotines! Must reading for those 1%-ers inside their gated communities! LOL. We are coming just for you.