In the July/August issue of Politico Magazine, economist and Nobel Laureate Josef Stiglitz wrote a 2,600-word article entitled “The Myth of America’s Golden Age.” What a pretentious title for the rehashing of old data. First Stiglitz recalls how things were in the good old days of his teenage years, the late 1950’s, and then summons the usual suspects to explain when and why it all went wrong. He brings us up to the present moment and fearlessly places blame where it belongs.
Anyone who had been paying attention for the past few years could have written the very same article with no trouble. But ordinary folks, unlike Stiglitz, have not been trained in economics with a PhD from mighty M.I.T. which he reminds us of twice. We ordinary folks long ago identified the problem. We know who did what to whom and when they did it. We know what went wrong. We are familiar with the problem. We have been hurt by it while Stiglitz’s speaking fees and book sales have gone up. He, like Geithner, has profited from all of the pain we have suffered. But all of that would be okay if only he had offered us a way forward. Instead, all he did was tell us that capitalism, political paralysis, market imperfections, and a rigged system of government all share blame for our troubles. But he offers not a single idea for solving these obvious problems. He, in effect, has nothing to offer and therefore he has nothing worth saying. All he actually did say was that he was afraid of the future.
People who bitch, bitch, bitch, and offer no ideas on how to solve our many problems would serve a useful purpose if they would just keep quiet. People like Stiglitz should put up or shut up. If they are so smart then let’s see their solutions. Let them spend about 150,000 words (like Piketty) and spell out a plan for making the changes we need. Stiglitz and those of his ilk should lead, follow, or get out of the way.