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HORIST: Conservative Economist wipes the floor with Nobel Prize winning socialist

HORIST: Conservative Economist wipes the floor with Nobel Prize winning socialist

In case the name does not sound familiar to you, Joseph Stiglitz is one of the leaders of the progressive (socialist) school of economics – meaning it all begins and ends with central government manipulation.  He is both intelligent and terribly mistaken.  He is a recipient of a Nobel Prize in Economics – an award that has gone to increasingly liberal economists since it was won by free-market economist Milton Friedman in 1976.

Stiglitz is a student of notable past left-wing economists, including John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith and Paul Samuelson – whose textbook I had to absorb in my liberal economic education at Knox College.  I got my degree in economics, but it was not by embracing the very liberal curriculum of my very liberal professors.

Stiglitz has written a book.  Don’t they all.  It is entitled “People, Power and Profits.”  It is yet another big government, high tax and government-directed redistribution of wealth treatise. It is what I call Robin Hood economics – taking from the rich to give to the poor.  It has a certain romantic appeal if you do not care that the Bandit of Sherwood Forest — as the 1946 movie title appropriately branded him — was a common thief.  Coming from Chicago, I recall stories of how Al Capone gave money to the poor, the Church and charities.  I do not admire that approach in Al Capone, Robin Hood … or Uncle Sam.

Rather than do a book review on Stiglitz’ latest tome, I will share my commentary with a much more capable person – economist Robert Genetski.  His book, “Rich Nation/Poor Nation” is a highly detailed study of economic trends in the United States and other countries throughout the world.  It establishes beyond any doubt that economic freedom produces the best economic conditions for the masses.  Unlike Stiglitz, Genetski does not deal in theory but in hard data.

Without further ado, here is the critique of the Stiglitz book by Robert Genetski.

Joseph Stiglitz’s new book “People, Power and Profits” provides an updated manifesto for the progressive-socialist agenda.  His manifesto is a call to solve our nation’s problems by relying more on government and, therefore, less on individual economic freedom.   Specifically, this agenda calls for higher tax rates on the rich and businesses, rapid increases in federal spending, government control over markets and a massive increase in government regulations.

What Stiglitz fails to do is provide his readers with any historical context of how this agenda has worked.  Progressive-socialist policies are not new.  Over the past century, the US experimented with these policies on five separate occasions: 1913-1920, 1929-1940, 1965-81, 1988-95 and 2004-15.  Unfortunately, these years were among the worst years in our economic history.  There was no increase in the value of the average worker take-home pay over this entire 52year period.  Since 1900 all of our economic progress occurred when policymakers avoided Stiglitz’s recommendations.

Not only have Stiglitz’s policy recommendations failed in the US, they have failed whenever and wherever they have been implemented.  To one extent or another progressive-socialist policies are the norm throughout much of the world.  The US is the only major country that has rejected such an agenda and embraced individual economic freedom for most of its history.  This is why Americans enjoy living standards higher than 99.9% of those in the rest of the world.  

As with other so-called progressive economists, Stiglitz is preoccupied with equality.  This preoccupation leads him to praise policies enacted during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Stiglitz isn’t the only progressive economist to extol the merits of the Great Depression.  Thomas Piketty, who wrote Capital in the Twenty-First Century, does so as well.  Their admiration for the worst economic debacle in US history relates to what has become their prime economic objective—income equality.  They apparently believe America is better off when incomes are more equal, even if it takes a collapse in the economy to achieve such an objective.

Research from the Fraser Institute shows income inequality is fairly stable whether countries are rich or poor.  The main difference is the poor are much better off in rich countries than in poor countries.  This is why so many people in poor countries want to come to America.

The main weakness of Stiglitz book is its dearth of meaningful data.  Without such data, the author is able to make outlandish, general statements about US history without presenting a scintilla of evidence.  Had the author seriously examined the history of US economic policies and their consequences, he would have concluded that the only time the US lost its way was whenever the country followed his agenda.  

In addition to dealing with economics, Stiglitz touches on climate science by repeating the progressive mantra “…excessive emissions of greenhouse gases present an existential threat to the planet….“  As with his economic statements, he fails to provide any evidence for such an existential threat.  As for economics, the historical evidence is clear—the real existential threat to prosperity is the progressive-socialist agenda. 

I could not have said it better myself – and that is why I did not.

So, there ‘tis’

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Geno Bouwens

    Where do these people come from? Socialism does not work, just look around the World where it is in place.
    Those countries are struggling at every social, and economical level. Myself I like Capitalism, the fact that everyone has the freedom to achieve the American dream, you just have to work for it.

    • Ronald D. Keeth

      Stiglitz is simply attempting to wrap progressive socialism in new packgaging and paint an appealing picture of economical disaster. As with every attempt at modified Marxism, it is still a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Eg.: The New Deal, Great Society, Peoples Republic, Socialist Republics,etc., change nothing. Renamed it is still Marxism repackgaged to change perception. This is nothing new, but just a reprint of a plan for economic destruction.

  2. DAV

    “Socialism is a fraud, a comedy, a phantom, a blackmail.” Benito Mussolini

    Lie-beral DEMONocrats are afflicted with stupidosis and no-common-senseitis.

  3. Brian Stewart

    Genetski says “Stiglitz touches on climate science by repeating the progressive mantra ‘…excessive emissions of greenhouse gases present an existential threat to the planet…’ As with his economic statements, he fails to provide any evidence for such an existential threat.”

    Kidding, right? Thousands of pages of documentation by the IPCC summarizing the work of thousands of scientists doesn’t count? The news reaching us nearly daily in the scientific journals and, to a lesser extent, in the popular press about how we are now in a full-blown crisis doesn’t count? I don’t know how well Stiglitz shored up his arguments, since I haven’t read his book, but if this is not common knowledge in 2019 and requires extensive documentation, it is only because of a successful campaign of suppression by the media.

    OK, so Genetski is a climate-crisis denier. What else has he got? He says “Research from the Fraser Institute shows income inequality is fairly stable whether countries are rich or poor. Again, everyone paying attention knows this is not true. In the U.S. in 1980, the top 0.1% — that is, the top thousandth — had 3% of the income; this is now 10%. From 1981-1988, one of the periods between Genetski’s dark “socialist” periods, incomes of the top 1% rose 76% while incomes of the bottom 20% fell 4%. This is not evidence that income inequality is “fairly stable”.

    Genetski’s strangely chosen time periods require defending. It’s almost as though he figured out which periods had low worker take-home pay and then called them the periods of “socialist” experimentation. Several of the “socialist” periods involved recessions or depressions following burst economic booms of the “non-socialist” periods; why not confront this fact head-on instead of slyly avoiding it? And during his favored non-socialist period 1940-1965, the top marginal tax rate ranged from 70% to 94%. So high taxation is o.k. if it occurs during one of the “good” periods?

    And what is it with the need now to brand liberal politicians as “socialists”? Only “conservatives” trot out this term. Even Bernie Sanders qualifies the term as “democratic socialist” in a reference to the arguably very successful Scandinavian economies. Pushing the bogeyman buttons may be good rhetoric, but it is weak, pandering argumentation.

    There is room for considered argument about the role taxation and regulation have to play in a modern complex society. And it is urgently important that the argument take place in the context of the growing climate crisis. But “conservative” voices now start with the conclusion — that taxation and regulation in all forms are inherently bad and that market-driven outcomes, whatever they are, are more desirable than any other outcomes — and then cherry pick the data to support that conclusion. This may score rhetorical points for their team, but it does nothing to further public understanding. It makes even the most articulate of them sound like trolls.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      As a climate science skeptic and researcher in the area, your argument of “Thousands of pages of documentation by the IPCC summarizing the work of thousands of scientists” doesn’t hold water. There a great deal of work that either disagrees with those assessments or illustrates the fact that the earth is much more complicated than the models they can build. You have done exactly what you say Genetski accuses Stiglitz of doing. You can’t prove a negative, but we have a long way to go before proving the positive.

      I haven’t read Genetski, but if he is accusing the left of socialism, the proof is in the popularity of socialism among the 2020 democrat candidates, and their current narrative.

  4. Brian Stewart

    Mr., Gilbertson, kindly cite one of your peer-reviewed climate research articles.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Try “Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science” by Ian Plimer

      You will also find some interesting data on, published by a good friend of mine, Dave White.

      These are both scientists with multiple peer reviewed publications.