It’s a stark message from a Nobel-prize winning economist. “We were a very different country 40 years ago,” he says. “The downhill slide has been pretty fast. America, I think, should be an important warning to other countries not to take for granted their institutions. I worry that things in the United States could get much worse.”
Stiglitz is credited with pioneering the concept of the “1 per cent”, the idea that the upper 1% of Americans have accumulated so much political power and wealth in recent decades – through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the corrupting influence of money – that the country’s economy has suffered, and its democracy has been undermined.
This month he plotted in Scientific American how inequality had worsened so much over the last 40 years that US democracy was imperilled. “Whereas the income share of the top 0.1% has more than quadrupled and that of the top 1% has almost doubled, that of the bottom 90% has declined,” he wrote.
“Wages at the bottom, adjusted for inflation, are about the same as they were some 60 years ago. Wealth is even less equally distributed, with just three Americans having as much as the bottom 50%.”
“As more of our citizens come to understand why the fruits of economic progress have been so unequally shared, there is a real danger that they will become open to a demagogue blaming the country’s problems on others and making false promises of rectifying ‘a rigged system’.
Odd, things are so terrible here, yet people from all over the world will beg, borrow or steal to live here. Many even go through the lengthy process of legally entering and staying. Who was it that said "The true measure of the greatness of a country is in how many are trying to get in vs. how many are trying to get out"?
But of course, we'll always have a segment of the population that feels that wealthy people are ruining the country and it's not fair that they have so much more than others. Unfortunately, for these people, their parents never took the time to explain to them why it was OK for Johnny to show up at the playground with a much nicer bike, and stealing his bike would be wrong. They go through life thinking that whining is far more productive than hard work.