Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Occupiers succeeded in creating a national dialogue on the haves and the have-nots in this country—or the 99% vs. the 1%.

The Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained today on Morning Joe how income inequality in the United States continues to grow unabated. Here are a few of the depressing statistics he shared.

  • The share of income going to the top 1% is twice as much as it was 30 years ago
  • Incomes adjusted for inflation are lower than they were in 1997
  • The median income of a full-time male worker is lower today than it was in 1968—almost a half century ago

“The United States now is the most unequal of all advanced industrialized countries,” he said. “Even more disturbing is we think of ourselves as the land of opportunity…but in terms of statistics – what are the chances, the likelihood of somebody at the bottom making it to the middle or the top?—we are the worst of any of the advanced industrial countries.”

Stiglitz, author of The Price of Inequality and Columbia University professor, noted there’s not “a single cause” for America’s troubling income divide, but he did cite predatory practices in the financial sector, outsized CEO pay packages, as well as some government policies, such as a lack of negotiation on drug prices.

“At the heart of this is inevitably politics,” Stiglitz added. “The problem is that our system has been shifting from what you might call one person, one vote, more to a system that is like one dollar, one vote.

Stiglitz suggested there were two possible ways to break the cycle: (1) The people at the top begin to realize “we’re all in the same boat,” which leads to infrastructure, education, and technology investment. (2) The average American begins to understand they’ve “been sold a bill of goods”—of bad ideas.

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