Joe Stiglitz on Tunisia: Democracy’s great but…

Sobering piece by a Nobel laureate

Virtuous though democracy is – and as Tunisia has shown, it is far better than the alternative – we should remember the failures of those who claim its mantle, and that there is more to true democracy than periodic elections, even when they are conducted fairly. Democracy in the US, for example, has been accompanied by increasing inequality, so much so that the upper 1% now receives about a quarter of national income – with wealth being even more inequitably distributed.

Most Americans today are worse off than they were a decade ago, with almost all the gains from economic growth going to the very top of the income and wealth distribution. And corruption American-style can result in trillion-dollar gifts to pharmaceutical companies, the purchase of elections with massive campaign contributions and tax cuts for millionaires as medical care for the poor is cut.