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The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future Hardcover – June 11, 2012
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“An impassioned argument backed by rigorous economic analysis.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“An important and smart new book... It’s a searing read.” (Nicholas Kristof - New York Times)
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Top Customer Reviews
One sentence basically says it all: "The top 1 percent of Americans gained 93 percent of the additional income created in the country in 2010, as compared with 2009." Now think of that in terms of a party with 100 people and big pizza with 100 slices. Basically it means that one rich guy gobbles up 93 slices of pizza. The other 99 get to divvy up the other seven.
Stiglitz does an especially good job of refuting the received wisdom among conservatives: that incomes are in proportion to productive contribution to society. Instead, the book shows that much of our extraordinary income concentration is due to "rent seeking" by the wealthy elite, and that very often this involves taking advantage of taxpayers. We have a system that actively redistributes income and wealth from huge numbers of people at the bottom of the pyramid to a tiny number at the very top.
As the book shows, extreme income inequality is really a kind of cancer that infects almost every aspect of our social, political, economic and even legal system. A tiny elite is able to effectively purchase laws and regulations that work in its favor. For example, bankruptcy laws are designed to favor banks over homeowners and holders of student debt, even though the banks have access to much better information and expertise when making these loans. One idea that occurs throughout the book is that we should have "one person one vote" not "one dollar one vote." and yet the evidence is clear we are moving toward even more influence for those with money.
In one sentence summary for those of you who like a very short review, this book has a threefold agenda. First to document the widely accessible and now well-known phenomenon of inequality, second to explain its cause and third understand its effects.
Also note that Stiglitz's book is very much an elaboration of his 2011 Vanity Fair article "Of the 1%, for the 1%, by the 1%." This article provides an excellent summary of the basic argument.
For those of you who like a longer review I will now provide a rather lengthy summary for those interested in the crucial issues of inequality, which are the root cause of the Occupy movement (see Richard Wolff excellent book _Occupy the Economy_, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media)) and global tensions (see James K. Galbraith's indispensable _Inequality and Instability_, Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis).
Stiglitz's book is really two books, the first book is 290 pages of very well argued and accessible text aimed at the above threefold agenda. The second book is 100 pages of notes, documentation, and very excellent citations and references. My review will concentrate on the text.Read more ›
* The financial collapse of 2008 took most all of us by surprise. We didn't realize how fragile our economy was or how easily it could be brought to the very brink of complete meltdown. The progress of economic recovery has also been astonishingly slow and even now the prospect of another leg down seems to be looming.
* As a student of economics I am familiar with how old-time Progressives approached the depressions of the late 1800s and early 1900s. They recognized that the primary problem was an imbalance between production and consumption. Consumers did not earn enough income to purchase the goods and services that the capitalists produced. They understood that producers and consumers must prosper together, so they lobbied to raise the minimum wage, require the payment of premiums for overtime hours, encourage the formation of labor unions, and enact Social Security and Unemployment programs to provide a floor under purchasing power when the economy went slack. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was based on these ideas of raising consumer's purchasing power. I believe they did stabilize the economy in the 1930s and were the basis of our post-WWII prosperity.
* I'm a Reagan Conservative who believes that Reagan's Supply Side agenda of cutting taxes was correct economic policy in the 1980s. However, it is a much different thing to cut maximum marginal taxes from 70% to 28% as Reagan did than to cut them from 39% to 15% (capital gains and dividends) as Bush did.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Predictable, progressive policies that possibly could work if fully supportedPublished 14 days ago by Barry M. Karson
Economists have become like fashion designers. They just write about whatever idea is in vogue. Mathematics and data doesn't seem to be used anymore to gain insights as much as to... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Book Myths
What I think recently is the same as what the author think. Although there could be some politic bias, overall, the opinion is independent.Published 17 days ago by Pete
Why did Dr. Stiglitz put no graphs, tables, or charts in his book? I purchased the book in a book store. I admit I have not completed reading it and probably will not. Read morePublished 19 days ago by David Gelman
As a student of economics, I am incredibly disappointed in this book. It lacks substance and an objective point of view. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Mick
Amazing book, the title really explains it all. Stiglitz does a great job of explaining the economic burden/cost of an inequitable society.Published 29 days ago by justin campbell
Superb book. This is a careful, very detailed dissection of all of the arguments for a society to allow development of the kind of extreme distribution of wealth the U.S. Read morePublished 2 months ago by S. Freeman