Frank Rich and Joe Stiglitz on income inequality

On a recent segment of the Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel interviewed two guests at one time, something she rarely does. The guests, Frank Rich and Joseph Stiglitz, both point the finger at corporate influence in Washington DC, and at the state and local levels, as the prime driver of growing income inequality in the United States. Rich, a well-respected mainstream political writer, and Stiglitz, a Nobel prize-winning economist, say, flat out, that public policy is no longer serving the majority of Americans.  They make two important points:

  • Both parties are equally bought by corporate money.
  • The partisan political discussion you see on your TV is a deliberate distraction from talking about the real issues that affect the majority of Americans.

Rich says that at all levels of government—from Washington to State Houses and city halls—elected officials are sponsoring and writing legislation that enables banks and corporations to siphon off money from the majority. Our growing income inequality is a direct result of those laws. The nightly parade of congressmen and senators talking into microphones, each blaming the other party, distracts us from understanding that both Republicans and Democrats represent the elite and their interests.

The stock market recovery, Stiglitz points out, has nothing to do with the real economy, which is still in very bad shape. Unemployment is still very high. He says there are dozens of good policies he could recommend that could help reverse income inequality and help ordinary people. Yet bought off elected officials ignore them lest they lose favor with their corporate backers and future employers. He cites, as an example,  Switzerland passing a referendum that limits CEO bonuses.

The appearance of Rich and Stiglitz  on mainstream MSNBC, is a sign that this massive corruption of our democratic process is starting to filter into mainstream political discussion. It’s about time. And it’s about time liberals moved away from the “blame Republicans” mentality and realize that both Democrats and Republicans are knee-deep in corruption. Kind of like the first step in AA: Only when we admit that our entire political process is broken can we have a productive discussion about how to change it.