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Challenging Stiglitz


Joseph Stiglitz has just published a piece "The Book of Jobs" in the December 2011 issue of "Vanity Fair," and I've seen it published on a couple of web sites, including Z Net.  Yes, I know Stiglitz has a Nobel Prize in Economics, that he's considered to be one of the top economists in the country, etc., etc., but I find this horribly insufficient as analysis.

He's correct to say our economy was in shambles before the Recession.  But he doesn't really understand WHY it was this way.

The biggest problem is that he only looks at things (generally) in the United States, when this MUST be put into a global context:  a national context, while necessary, is not sufficient.

He misses SO MUCH that must be included:  he ignores the fact that the United States has an Empire, which must be militarily defended.  Research I've done shows that between 1981-2011, the US Government has spent over $10 TRILLION for our military, and that doesn't include nuclear weapons and doesn't include veteran's benefits, etc.

He doesn't explain the rise of the "working middle class" (skilled tradespeople and unionized industrial workers), nor does he discuss what the cummulative attack on the labor movement has meant for unionization rates and political representation.  

He doesn't discuss that the US is one of the most economically unequal countries in the world–the MOST unequal of all the so-called "developed countries" save the city-states of Singapore and Hong Kong, and more unequal than some of the poor nations on Earth, such as Uganda, Bangladesh, Vietnam.

He calls for a "massive investment" campaign to restore the US economy.  He ignores the US is already over $14.5 TRILLION in debt, already.  Further, he ignores the fact that the US was the only industrialized country to emerge out of World War II physically unscathed, and while our country was able to thrive during the 1947-73 period, it was because our economic competitors were generally prostrate–and nothing like that will ever happen again!

There's a lot more I could say, but I am very unimpressed with his analysis.  

If you want to compare my analysis to his, go to my article, "Neo-liberal Economic Policies in the United States:  The Impact of Globalization on a 'Northern' Country," which is on-line at www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/21584 .  This article was published in 2009, and ends in the summer of 2007, right BEFORE the US entered the Recession, so none of the things reported was caused by the Recession.  You will get a much more complete analysis in my piece.

Kim Scipes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology
Purdue University North Central
Westville, IN 46391

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