From Vanity Fair, May, 2011 (Read the rest of the article here)
Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
Joesph Stiglitz’s article addresses the economic imbalance across the upper 1% of Americans and the middle and lower class—you can’t fight facts about the economic inequality across our nation. The upper 1% of Americans makes nearly 25% of the nation’s income per year and control 40% of the nation’s wealth. On the flip side, the middle class has seen a fall in income and wealth over the past decade, and men with no college degree have seen a 12% fall in income over the past quarter century. Stiglitz argues that an economy like America’s—one in which the wealth divide progressively worsens each year—will not do well in the long haul because of shrinking opportunity, undermining efficiency and under-investment in infrastructure, research and education. The issue caused by a divided society is the reluctance of the wealthy to spend money on infrastructure and common goods such as public education and parks, which they could readily buy for themselves. Stiglitz points out that the wealthy worry about a strong government attempting to balance the inequality and raise taxes on the wealthy.Explanations for the growing inequality include many aspects from globalization and the rise of cheap overseas workers, to social changes, such as the decline of unions. Stiglitz also gives insight into the foreign policy views and actions of the wealthy, which centers round paying for wars with borrowed money, disregarding our nation’s notion of balance and restraint between national interests and national resources. This imbalance in society and system for no opportunities is what gave rise to the unrest throughout the Middle East. The inequality we see today, with 1% of Americans living a life of luxury while the middle and lower class fight over job opportunities and national resources, is not beneficial for a functioning society.