Grim recent studies reveal the shocking increase in inequality globally, both between and within countries. Anti-poverty economic policies since World War II have done little, except for their notable success in China. Worldwide, the share of nations’ productivity increases going to employees is shrinking – while the share to capital owners, financial firms, corporations and their top executives has mushroomed, as reported in the Economist, Nov. 2, 2013.
Old economic textbook remedies for rising inequality still call for more growth. Yet economic growth is slowing in most mature economies. In still growing China, India, brazil and other emerging countries, the growth remedies lead to greater inequality as well as destroying traditional livelihoods polluting vital common resources: air, water, forests and biodiversity. Growth based on fossil energy brings the inequalities of climate change and increasing weather disasters. The social costs of rising inequality are documented by Joseph Stiglitz in The Price of Inequality (2012); James K. Galbraith in Inequality and Instability (2012); Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson in The Spirit Level (2011). Unpacking “growth,” which is part of nature, must specify what is growing, what is dying and what is maintained, as physicist fritjof capra and I clarify in qualitative growth (2009).
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