The role of government in the economy has been a major public policy issue for more than two centuries. Critics of capitalism, at least since Karl Marx, have argued that the system is skewed to benefit the political and economic elite at the expense of the masses: the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, as Marx put it, or the 1 percent over the 99 percent, as the Occupy Movement that began in 2011 put it.
Two recent books have looked at these issues, one from the vantage point of the political left and the other from the political right. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist and frequent commentator on the political left, discusses the way the system is skewed to support the 1 percent over the 99 percent in his book The Price of Inequality (2012), while conservative writer and former Michigan congressman and budget director in the Reagan administration David Stockman addresses these same issues from the political right in The Great Deformsation (2013). Considering their political leanings, it is worth emphasizing how much their books have in common when describing the causes of the major economic and political problems they perceive in the United States.
Both Stiglitz and Stockman argue that corruption of the U. S. political system is damaging both the economic system and democracy. This article documents the commonality of ideas in their two books while recognizing the significant differences in their policy recommendations.
This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on November 17, 2014.