June 30, 2011


Joseph E. Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001 and has published many books on the subject, including his latest in 2010, “Freefall: America, and the Sinking of the World Economy.” His recent essay appeared in the May edition of “Vanity Fair” where he observes that the richest Americans, the top 1%, control the bulk of the nation’s wealth. Among his other revelations:

  •  “…the chances of poor citizens, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe.”
  • “…one out of six Americans desiring a full time job {is} not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps…”
  •   “The top 1 percent rarely serves in the military —…an ‘all volunteer’ army does not pay enough… Instead, that  1%  controls the large corporations and industries that profit from war.” (pg. 129) 

Greater minds than mine can speak to the economic issues in our country. But the present money and power imbalance are acerbated by two Supreme Court Rulings. The first gave the same rights to corporations that belong to people. The second classified political contributions as free speech. We all know the consequences of those two decisions. Our government is unduly influence by the few with too much money.


One other consequence may have escaped our attention, however: that the ballot box is often used not to elect our leaders but to anoint them. Candidates who appear on the ticket of any national political party have been vetted by the rich and powerful of that party. Few Abraham Lincolns walk the halls of Congress. Our leaders come from among the wealthy or are the sons and daughters of dynasties, or are candidates who have connections with giant corporations that contribute to both sides to insure their lobbyists’ access. Each election season, the common man is asked to vote from a slim menu of the chosen. It is a bland diet that over time is likely to starve the nation.