AMY GOODMAN: In your piece, Joe Stiglitz, in Vanity Fair, “Of the 1, by the 1, for the 1%,” you say, “Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.” Talk about all this. We’re seeing these rolling rebellions. We are seeing rebellions not only in the Middle East, though, in the Midwest. I mean, look at Madison, Wisconsin. And what about this issue of even the wealthy will regret this?
JOSEPH STIGLITZ: Well, there are two points that I try to make. One is that a successful economy requires collective action. There are lots of things we have to do together. We have to have infrastructure. We have to have an educated population. If you have a divided society, you start worrying more—if you’re in the wealthy and you have an electorate system that can use your wealth to affect the politics, you say, “I’d rather have a small government that isn’t able to redistribute money, take money away from me. I don’t need public schools; I have private money. I don’t need public parks; I have private—you know, my large land.” So, what you have then is an erosion of the kind of collective action, and that makes a society less efficient, less productive. And you see that already happening. We are competing in education with countries in Asia that were much poorer than we were not that long ago. So that’s one problem.
And the second one is that obviously a house divided can’t stand, that you start getting tensions, you start not paying attention to the things that make us cohesive as a nation. And that’s what you’re seeing in Wisconsin. And you also see that in the budget messages that are coming across, saying, “OK, we’re going to cut back on healthcare for aged and for the poor, but we’re not going to do anything about overall healthcare costs.” What does that mean? It means that if you’re going to cut back on health expenditures for the aged and the poor, and you’re going to let health costs continue to rise, that says rationing. They’re not going to be able to get healthcare. Already, we spend more money with poor health outcomes than those in other countries in the advanced industrial world. And it’s going to get worse as the poor and the elderly can’t get access to healthcare.