the lesson of Singapore

Nobel Prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz has a great piece in the Times today on Singapore. He clearly shows that government policy indeed has much to do with how capitalism is manifest in a country. He does a great job of looking at the example of Singapore and what it has done well in achieving greater equality (while not ignoring other political realities about Singapore that are more problematic from an American point of view, but are a separate point from what he is making).I read this as a great entry in the discussion over whether capitalism is moral, and again, for me, to make any sense, the question must be phrased more like, how do implement and control our capitalism in a moral way.
The piece is very much worth reading. I didn’t know most of what he says about Singapore and found it very interesting.
He also made a couple points that are worth being reminded of often, because we continually forget them. One is that Americans in general have no idea how truly unequal our society has become. And even more importantly, that the more equal a society, the better that society is–and yes, he and I both recognize we are not aiming for a complete socialist equality where everyone makes an identical wage; we need some inequality to promote innovation, etc. to drive the economic engine. The problem is that right now we have far greater inequality than we need to do that–on a whole host of factors; everything from crime rates to teen pregnancy, to general welfare and feelings of satisfaction, to lower drug use, to greater community involvement. To see a great detailed study on that issue, see a book I have often recommended, “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.

About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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