Still hope, Nobel Prize-winning economist Stiglitz says
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent February 8, 2013 8:18PM
Joseph Stiglitz, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, is interviewed at Columbia University,in New York, Thursday July 26, 2012. He is the author of the new book "The Price of Inequality." In his new book, he connects surging student loan debt, the real-estate bubble and many of the countrys other problems to greater inequality.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Archived broadcasts of “Steel Shores,” including the Stiglitz interview, are available free of charge at UStream.TV.
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:45AM
GARY — Gary is nowhere near its “boomtown days of the 1950s,” but there is still hope for opportunity in the city and around the country, said Nobel Prize-winning economist and best-selling author Joseph Stiglitz, a Gary native.
The Columbia University professor, who last month won the French Legion’s Medal of Honor, also praised public education in Gary for his success.
“I wouldn’t claim I made it on my own,” said Stiglitz, the 1960 valedictorian of the shuttered Horace Mann High School in Gary. “I was very lucky in that I had fantastic teachers in Horace Mann, a public school, and one of the reasons I’m so committed to public education is I thought I got a fantastic education in the Gary public school system.”
Stiglitz was the guest of Post-Tribune correspondent and radio show host Michael Gonzalez on “Steel Shores,” a weekly news and talk radio program on WLTH 1370 AM.
Gary has been an example of the challenges and problems brought about by industrialization, Stiglitz said. During his last visit to Gary, Stiglitz said he was struck by changes in the city.
“Oh, (Gary) was very different,” he said. “The one thing that usually strikes someone is the population has gone down by something like 50 percent, and that means there’s a lot of empty houses, and that, obviously, like Detroit, strikes someone in the face.”
Stiglitz, who also was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Bill Clinton and the former chief economist of the World Bank, has been on a speaking tour to support his latest book, “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future.”
The book details what Stiglitz describes as economic inequalities in the United States, where the top 1 percent of Americans controls 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Stiglitz also ties much of the financial crisis of 2007-08, largely blamed for the recession, on cozy relationships between financial sector leaders and politicians and policy makers.
One result is the vast majority of Americans have far less opportunity than they have had since the Great Depression, Stiglitz wrote, but there still is hope.
“There is still opportunity in America but it’s not equal opportunity,” Stiglitz said. “People at the bottom have to work harder. Let’s be honest about it, it’s not a level playing field, but we are still a country where there is some opportunity, and it’s better to try.”