In a recent essay, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz considered “The Myth of America’s Golden Age” and the measures taken by government in 2008 and after to avert another Depression.
The entire piece is well worth reading, but the following paragraph struck me as a perceptive–and straightforward–explanation of this country’s growing inequality.
If our politics leads to preferential taxation of those who earn income from capital; to an education system in which the children of the rich have access to the best schools, but the children of the poor go to mediocre ones; to exclusive access by the wealthy to talented tax lawyers and offshore banking centers to avoid paying a fair share of taxes—then it is not surprising that there will be a high level of inequality and a low level of opportunity. And that these conditions will grow even worse…
When I was a new lawyer, the partner I was assigned to told me something I’ve always remembered: there is only one legal question, and it is “what should we do?”
What’s true for the practice of law is equally true for the crafting of public policies. If Stiglitz is correct–and he clearly is–what should we do?
And in a system that has been profoundly corrupted by money, a system where even well-meaning lawmakers are beholden to rabid base voters whose fears have been expertly manipulated by the oligarchs, how do we do it?