Joseph Stiglitz on Fighting Inequality

Gawker: When you talk about fighting against inequality being “enlightened self-interest” for rich people, what do you mean by that?

Stiglitz: There are three levels. I know a lot of people in the 1% who approach the issue very much through a moral point of view. They view that their success was partly a matter of luck, and they should share that success. It’s a deeply felt vision of what a moral economy and world should be. That’s the strongest view of enlightened self-interest, that you look at it not just in a selfish way, but as what kind of society we want.

The second is, what are the conditions that would lead to a better performing market economy? The fundamental problem in the United States is a lack of demand, because ordinary people don’t have any income. And if you redistribute income, you’d probably get a better functioning economy. That’s really the IMF stance.

And the third… is the social unrest… [The rich] are still are aware that there’s such a big divide that if the majority of Americans, the 99%, could get organized, they are at risk. The real battle is to make sure their billions offset the people power.

Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan has a very good interview with Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who talks about inequality in the U.S. and how to fix it, and why the Obama administration stumbled when it bailed out the banks and not the American people.

Photo: Abhisit Vejjajiva

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