Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Joseph Stiglitz on the price of inequality

[...] America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries – and its gap with the rest has been widening. In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1% of US income earners captured 93% of the income growth. Other inequality indicators – like wealth, health, and life expectancy – are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.

Click here to read the rest of Joseph Stiglitz's piece on the price of inequality, courtest of Social Europe Journal.

1 comment:

Paul Hunt said...

In this context, the referendum result was quite informative - particularly if one compares the result with that of the 2011 general election (and ignores the probably failry limited changes in the composition of the electorate). The drop in turnout suggests that around 40% of the total of FF, FG and Labour voters in 2011 sat on thier hands this time, while the non-FF, non-Fg and non-Labour voters in 2011 largely turned out on the 'no' side and, with a bit of help from 'mainstream' party defectors (and possibly some who didn't vote in 2011) increased their total.

So, with around 20-25% of the electorate who generally don't participate (but may be happy goinmg along with the 'mainstream' majority), we seem to have about 20% of voters in the nationalistic, unreconstructed socialistic, rejectionist camp and 35-40% of voters in a 'technocratic mainstream'. This mainstream has been able to suppress, smother and internalise in a manageable manner the inevitable conflicts between producers and consumers, between empoyers and workers and between those who perceive they contribute more in taxation than they receive in benefits from public expenditure and those on the other side of this calculation - but the entire thrust of public policy and regulation is to favour the former over the latter.

This 'technocratic mainstream' is dominant in all developed economies - and Ireland is no exception. The conflicts that arise are inevitable and healthy - once they are resolved via an open, transparent process of democratic governance. Suppressing them is both unhealthy and dangerous. Adopting a naive nationalistic, unreconstructed socialistic or rejectionist stance will never secure the democratic plurality required. Only by seeking to make common ground with the liberal, left-of-centre elements in the 'technocratic mainstream' - rather than attacking and repelling them - will the popular democratic balance be shifted and progress made.

But, obviously, cannibalising soft Labour support is too enticing for the ULA and SF - even if this will never secure the popular mandate required.