Readings — From the September 2014 issue

Phony Capitalism

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By Joseph Stiglitz, adapted from a white paper published in May by the Roosevelt Institute, where he is chief economist. Stiglitz received the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics.

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  • Anthony Owen

    This should be read by everyone who pays taxes. It should receive the widest possible distribution.

  • wrf1984

    The modern conception of the “free market” completely ignores one of the traditional tenets of those types of markets. For instance, Adam Smith insisted on “free entry and exit” of SUPPLIERS as well as demanders. That was fine when industries were making straight pins. How do you freely enter a market in the production of electricity, the manufacture of automobiles, or a new smart phone? You don’t. Because of their complexity, it is almost impossible for those without vast resources to enter such markets, and sometimes not even then.
    And, as Mr. Black asserts, why are we now taxing money made by owning money at a lower rate than money made by work? Absurd.

  • Photo

    Change must come top down as the bottom is not reading this. Considering Stiglitz goes to length about the essential component of incentives in capitalism, where is the immediate incentive for the top to give away, or influence policy to encourage the giving away, of so much of their “hard earned” capital. I don’t see that happening. In fact I see the opposite happening. Perhaps oppression will reach such lamentable lows that a ground swell will occur. Again i doubt it. The system is designed to consume itself. The incentives are designed to perpetuate this. Ones consent and participation are irrelevant. A willing replacement will be found quicker than a person can step down. You boil that frog slow and the pot is getting hot :-p

  • walterjkelly

    Magic In The Sky

    Piketty has indeed evidenced convincingly what so many of us have witnessed in our lifetimes: that capitalism tends to run out of control without a suitable tax structure analogous to the one we had finally managed to leverage into place by the fifties. For Stiglitz to claim that a wealth tax is a political non-starter is not to distinguish the effect of Picketty’s thoroughly researched remedy from his own proposals, an overly complex phalanx of little fixes and nostalgia infused restorations. The fact of the matter is that any tax of any kind applied anywhere is a non-starter with our Congress, a non-starter with our politicians in all ranks and types of office everywhere, a non-starter with conservatives, and a non-starter with our greedy, brainwashed, misled, and misguided populace, a populace whose majority clings to a belief in god and thereby believes in the existence of such a thing as magic in the sky. Magical thinking writ large lingering into the 21st century currently does, and will continue to, obtund practical change as our situation worsens. Nothing will happen until the universal degradation of living conditions prompts enough people to question the conventional notions they are being fed by Republicans that taxes are a fraud, that co-operation is a existential threat, and that adaptation is unnecessary.

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