Saturday, April 20, 2019

A new social contract for progressive capitalism

I searched my blog for the earliest post that included the label "Stiglitz."  I am not at all surprised that it was way back in 2008, not long after I re-started the blog.

In that post, I wrote, "It will be neat if neoclassical economics alters its course thanks to Amartya SenJoseph Stiglitz, and Paul Krugman. but, maybe that is asking for too much, eh!"

In my understanding, mainstream academic economics--and its political variation--did not significantly change in the more than ten years since then.  Even the nasty Great Recession did not force a sharp re-thinking in economics and politics!

There is a reason that I have keenly followed these three: They are not merely economists of repute, but also phenomenal thinkers.  And, they also write in a manner that makes even blokes like me understand the weight of their arguments.

Stiglitz has, forever it seems, yelling about the need to redo the social contract, so that it would reflect the conditions in which we live now.  There are a number of posts where I have quoted him, among many others, on the need for a new social contract.  Like in this post from three years ago.

It is also instructive to think about the comment there: "Stiglitz is in the same camp as Krugman and therefore I have to take many a gulp before I write this comment - lest Trumpesque unparliamentary language creeps in :)"  That comment is reflective of the intense political opposition that existed, and continues to exist.

In his latest opinion essay in The NY Times, Stiglitz writes:
We are now in a vicious cycle: Greater economic inequality is leading, in our money-driven political system, to more political inequality, with weaker rules and deregulation causing still more economic inequality.
If we don’t change course matters will likely grow worse, as machines (artificial intelligence and robots) replace an increasing fraction of routine labor, including many of the jobs of the several million Americans making their living by driving.
Even a casual reader of this blog knows well how much I have worried about these very issues, and which is why I have been yelling from my corner about the need for a new social contract.  A contract that would not dampen the innovative and creative forces in the marketplace, but would also provide a lot more support to the people and places that get left behind.

Stiglitz calls for a new social contract, through Progressive Capitalism.  A political economic structure that will be different from what we now have:
Most important, our exploitive capitalism has shaped who we are as individuals and as a society. The rampant dishonesty we’ve seen from Wells Fargo and Volkswagen or from members of the Sackler family as they promoted drugs they knew were addictive — this is what is to be expected in a society that lauds the pursuit of profits as leading, to quote Adam Smith, “as if by an invisible hand,” to the well-being of society, with no regard to whether those profits derive from exploitation or wealth creation.
This was the fork-in-the-road that we faced in the elections of 2016.  No thanks to two old white men, 63 million forced the country to take the wrong route despite all the flashing red lights warning us of danger ahead.  Let's see what we do in 2020.

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