Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay

Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay

by James K. Galbraith
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The strong U.S. economy in the late 1990s has validated the bold thesis of this book. Created Unequal shows that America's historically high inequality of pay and incomes is not the result of impersonal market forces such as technology or trade, but of bad economic policies over several decades and the poor performance they created. Featuring a new preface

See more details below

Overview

The strong U.S. economy in the late 1990s has validated the bold thesis of this book. Created Unequal shows that America's historically high inequality of pay and incomes is not the result of impersonal market forces such as technology or trade, but of bad economic policies over several decades and the poor performance they created. Featuring a new preface on the improvements since 1994, Created Unequal is a rousing book that reminds us we can reclaim our country through economic understanding, commonsense policy, and political action.

Editorial Reviews

Joanna Ciulla
Created Unequal is not light reading, but Galbraith's elegant arguments, passionate exposition, and profound conclusions make it worth the trouble. . . . [Galbraith's] books remind us that the economy is and ought to be run by humans, not humans by the economy.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Economists of every ideological stripe acknowledge that wages have grown increasingly unequal since 1970 in the U.S. Galbraith (Balancing Act), a professor of economics at the University of Texas and a former Executive Director of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, considers that widening gap -- between the very rich and the middle and working classes -- dangerous to our democratic ideals, and he is passionate in his quest to identify the culprits. The popular explanation for the trend, he notes, is that high-tech workers garner the majority of wage gains (due to superior productivity in companies fulfilling strong market demand) while workers subject to less felicitous market forces lose ground. Spotting anomalies in that argument, Galbraith dives into U.S. Department of Commerce data and, using ingenious analysis, finds six factors responsible for the trend: unemployment, the exchange rate, inflation, economic growth, the interest rate and the minimum wage. Since all six are candidates for artful manipulation (whether by Congress, the Executive or the Federal Reserve), why, Galbraith asks, have we been passive for 25 years in the face of rising wage inequality? He then unveils an action plan that will cause heated debates in corporate board rooms and in Washington, if not in the media. The data crunching that shores up Galbraith's position may prove daunting to some who gave up on Econ 101, but the numbers, charts and graphs are moderated with rousing tributes to Adam Smith, Joseph Schumpeter and John Maynard Keynes, economists who were revolutionary social critics as well as shrewd bean counters.
Library Journal
A University of Texas economics professor and son of John Kenneth Galbraith, Galbraith sees the growing inequality of pay in America as the cause of the struggle over welfare reform, affirmative action, healthcare, and other issues. His mild polemic seeks to challenge the current economic orthodoxy that such inequality is caused by job displacement owing to high technology and lack of educational attainment rather than government policies stipulating tight money, low tariffs, and high unemployment. He proposes that since government is the cause of this inequality, government can be the solution by returning to policies of seeking full employment, a higher minimum wage, a more competitive value of the dollar, and price stability. Although these proposals are close to Democratic Party positions, Galbraith criticizes the fiscal irresponsibility of both parties. Galbraith supports his interesting though not entirely convincing contentions with almost 60 pages of notes, appendixes, and bibliography. He overstates the problem, given the current strength of the U.S. economy. -- Patrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Technical College Library, LaCrosse
Bruce Nussbaum
. . .[P]oorly written. One must wonder what the editors at The Free Press were doing when Galbraith's book came across their desks. . .. the author. ..must also take some responsibility. . . .The debate over monetary policy is too important to be buried in jargon and left to the experts. -- New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A tour de force by an economist not so handicapped by theoretical orthodoxy that clear thinking is impossible. Economist Galbraith's (University of Texas, Austin) central concern is America's growing inequality. He begins by debunking conventional explanations that employ market theories to dismiss inequality as a function of technological innovation. Economists need to believe that supply and demand control a labor market that is ultimately beneficial if their theories are to remain unquestioned, but Galbraith demonstrates what everyone else already knows: Inequality is rooted in public policies. Given that inequality is mutable, the relevant concern is to identify its cause. An extensive analysis points to unemployment as the culprit, and inequality began its rise as economists and government began to give up on full employment as a policy goal. Galbraith concludes that the 'real evil of our time' is the association of inequality with conscious decisions, such as tolerating unemployment; the question, then, is what policies to change. At the core of the contemporary less-than-full-employment strategy, Galbraith argues, is the Federal Reserve's anti-inflation campaign. While many commitments are necessary to maintain full employment, maintenance of low, stable interest rates is fundamental, and as long as the Fed sees interest rates as a weapon in the war against inflation, full employment will be sacrificed. There is no doubt where Galbraith's prejudices lie—he sees the Fed as 'the most ridiculous of all government agencies, the platypus of institutions'—but it also seems undeniable that the Fed's actions have fed inequality. For Galbraith, the classical economics thatunderlies contemporary policy is only relevant once full employment is obtained; otherwise, market explanations constitute a self-interested (for those who benefit) or self-delusional (for those who theorize) walk through fantasy land with horrific consequences for the majority of people who live in the real world. Sophisticated but accessible and powerful arguments for the open-minded.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226278797
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
12/15/2000
Edition description:
1
Pages:
378
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >