Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes:
The means of most Americans haven’t kept up with what the economy could and should provide. The economy is twice as large as it was three decades ago, and yet the typical American is earning about the same, adjusted for inflation.
Read more here.
From a wide-ranging interview with Noam Chomsky:
[O]ne of the main problems for students today — a huge problem — is sky-rocketing tuitions. Why do we have tuitions that are completely out-of-line with other countries, even with our own history? In the 1950s the United States was a much poorer country than it is today, and yet higher education was … pretty much free, or low fees or no fees for huge numbers of people. There hasn’t been an economic change that’s made it necessary, now, to have very high tuitions, far more than when we were a poor country.
Read Chomsky’s breakdown of the rich-country-indebted-student paradox here.
The world’s richest 300 people have as much wealth as the poorest 3 billion:
Advance praise for What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution (Chelsea Green, April 2013), by Econ4′s Gar Alperovitz:
“Gar Alperovitz’s new book is so plain-spoken and accessible that it takes a moment to appreciate the magnitude of his accomplishment. After examining new patterns of positive change emerging in America today—including many undernoticed changes that involve democratizing the ownership of wealth—he develops a brilliant strategy for the type of transformative change that can lead America from decline to rebirth. In giving a sense of strategic direction and honest possibility to the call for a new economy, Alperovitz has made an enormous contribution exactly where it is most needed.”
—James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
“In this important new book, Gar Alperovitz is telling us there’s something happening here in corporate-driven America, be it social enterprise, community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, or employee stock ownership plans. We all know that the free-market economic system no longer works for the vast majority of citizens and Alperovitz is showing us that there is a better, equally American way, to spread the wealth and put more people to work, while making the nation a safer and healthier place to live. This is not an utopian fantasy or a call for social engineering, but a plain-spoken and easy-to-absorb analysis by one of our leading economists of what’s gone wrong and how to make it better.”
—Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker
Check it out, kids:
Check out the differences between (i) what 9 out of 10 Americans think is the ideal degree of wealth inequality; (ii) what they think wealth inequality really is; and (iii) what it really is.
Source: New Economics Institute.
For many Americans, Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz writes, the dream of upward mobility is being subverted by the reality of unequal opportunity:
Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After World War II, Europe made a major effort to democratize its education systems. We did, too, with the G.I. Bill, which extended higher education to Americans across the economic spectrum. But then we changed, in several ways. While racial segregation decreased, economic segregation increased. After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. Disparities widened between those living in poor localities and those living in rich suburbs — or rich enough to send their kids to private schools. A result was a widening gap in educational performance…
In some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity: government support for many state schools has been steadily gutted over the last few decades — and especially in the last few years. Meanwhile, students are crushed by giant student loan debts that are almost impossible to discharge, even in bankruptcy. This is happening at the same time that a college education is more important than ever for getting a good job.
A level playing field is a key element of Econ4′s vision of how an economy that works for people, the planet and the future.
Stephanie Coontz writes in the Times on family-unfriendly work-life policies:
We must stop seeing work-family policy as a women’s issue and start seeing it as a human rights issue.
Read more here.
Capitalism Unmasked, a new eBook edited by Lynn Parramore, was produced in a partnership between AlterNet and Econ4 to expose the myths of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future. You can download the PDF here.
Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz writes:
In 2010, student debt, now $1 trillion, exceeded credit-card debt for the first time.
Student debt can almost never be wiped out, even in bankruptcy. A parent who co-signs a loan can’t necessarily have the debt discharged even if his child dies. The debt can’t be discharged even if the school — operated for profit and owned by exploitative financiers — provided an inadequate education, enticed the student with misleading promises, and failed to get her a decent job.
Instead of pouring money into the banks, we could have tried rebuilding the economy from the bottom up…. We could have recognized that when young people are jobless, their skills atrophy. We could have made sure that every young person was either in school, in a training program or on a job. Instead, we let youth unemployment rise to twice the national average. The children of the rich can stay in college or attend graduate school, without accumulating enormous debt, or take unpaid internships to beef up their résumés. Not so for those in the middle and bottom. We are sowing the seeds of ever more inequality in the coming years.
Read his dissection of how economic and political inequality are poisoning opportunity in America here.