Published on Chicago Tribune.
The focus of the U.S. presidential campaign is on the economy, especially on how to tackle widening inequality in the United States. How does Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and professor at Columbia University, look at the situation? Stiglitz served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and as senior vice president of the World Bank. He was one of the authors of the 1995 second assessment report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Yomiuri Shimbun recently sat down with Stiglitz, who was visiting Tokyo, and asked his views:
The Yomiuri Shimbun: To what extent is the rapidly rising inequality in the United States playing a role in the U.S. presidential election?
Joseph Stiglitz: A very, very important role. And it's not only the rising inequality; it is the fact that particular groups in the population are having a very difficult time. People who don't have a university degree are having-and men are having a more difficult time than women; women's incomes are going up faster than men's. Of course there was a lot of inequality, so some of this is rectifying inequality, but the fact is that it's been very hard for groups in American society, and that's showing up in the anger that you see in Trump supporters. There is a destructive kind of anger.
On the Democratic side it's more reasoned; people are trying to figure out the solutions.
There are three things causing the anger; the high level of inequality and the fact that they think it's unfair. If someone is richer because they worked harder, that's one thing. But if they stole money from me or they got their money unfairly, and the view is the bankers made their money at the expense of everybody else in our society. They did very bad things, like fraud, and nobody was held accountable. So the inequality, the unfairness of it, and finally the lack of trust because people promised that they would change things in ways that would be fair hasn't happened. So there is a lack of trust in some of our basic institutions.