Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Notable Economist Weighs in on Occupy Wall Street

Ever since the very first year I left high school and had first entered the job market back in 1973, I knew that something was wrong. For over three decades, like a hamster in a cage frantically spinning my wheel and never getting anywhere, I never understood why. No matter how hard I worked (increased worker productivity), my earnings continued to lag below the rate of inflation (stagnate wages).

"1973 was the peak for the average male worker in America if you adjust the numbers and everything,” says Joe Scarborough on msnbc's "Morning Joe".

Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (economist) says,“America has been declining in terms of real wages since 1973.”

The influence of money in our politics was a major factor in generating this income inequality, and Sachs’ chart (in video below) reveals it's nearly as high as it was during the Great Depression. “I think the [political] parties have been bought."

Voters have been easily seduced by the promise of lower taxes, even when they’re not the ones benefiting from them; and so, they have been enlisted in their own demise.

The result is a self-perpetuating cycle that leaves a weakened working class unable to move up from generation to generation. Sachs points out that the only group doing well in today’s economy, educationally speaking, are those with advanced degrees.

“If kids come from an affluent family, they can pay the tuition,” he says. “But if you’re coming from working class family, if you’re coming from a poor family, the chance that you’re going to make it all the way through college is very small.”

The crushing pressure that Sachs describes is a big reason why you’re seeing all of those folks Occupying Wall Street, and if the length and breadth of these issues is any indication, why that protest might have surprisingly strong legs.

Watch the video of Dr. Jeffrey Sachs on msnbc "Morning Joe"

But a few did managed to break through - but only with God's blessing and good luck. How would someone like Sean Hannity of Fox News feel if he lost his job, lost his home, lost his car, lost his wife, and lost his children...just like millions of other Americans have since the economic collapse of 2008? But because of a broken capitalist society that needs "fixed or replaced", people like Sean (part of the 1%) can look down at the other 99% (people like me)with disdain.

And if politicians take campaign contributes to get themselves elected to a paying job, isn't that EXACTLY the same thing as bribery?

The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey D. Sachs

For more than three decades, Jeffrey D. Sachs has been at the forefront of international economic problem solving. But Sachs turns his attention back home in The Price of Civilization, a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity.

As he has done in dozens of countries around the world in the midst of economic crises, Sachs turns his unique diagnostic skills to what ails the American economy. He finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities.

Yet Sachs goes deeper than an economic diagnosis. By taking a broad, holistic approach—looking at domestic politics, geopolitics, social psychology, and the natural environment as well—Sachs reveals the larger fissures underlying our country’s current crisis. He shows how Washington has consistently failed to address America’s economic needs. He describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. He also looks at the crisis in our culture, in which an over-stimulated and consumption-driven populace in a ferocious quest for wealth now suffers shortfalls of social trust, honesty, and compassion.

Finally, Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another. Most important, he bids each of us to accept the price of civilization, so that together we can restore America to its great promise.

The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.

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