The Stiglitz article in Vanity Fair is superb; it very politely points out to the American populace that their asses are hanging out, just like their tongues, and that the whole world sees them as the mother monkey that tramples her own young to get at whatever fruit is in view.
He even evinces scorn for "the Chicago Boys" and their murderous school of economics (by putting quotation marks around their epithet), but he doesn't carry his own insights to their logical conclusions -- probably because he is an economist himself.
Economists do not recognize the natural world as a biological system. They see it as an endless chain of dead materiel, even as they refer to such input as 'natural' resources.
Stiglitz does not materially stray from the Chicago School, from the exploitative Debt Virus that is the essence of capitalism when he says, "Without growth there cannot be sustainable poverty reduction."
Poverty throughout the human population could be eliminated with one or two percent of the world's GDP. No more starvation, uncontested epidemics, grinding wage slavery. Every human could be assured of food every day, clean water, decent shelter, and basic medical attention -- the preventive kind.
For another percent of GDP, literacy could be quadrupled at the least.
But caring for ourselves, our species, and the planet we live on is not the goal of capitalism. The pathology of capitalism is to extract and exploit, and then walk away from the garbage created thereby.
While you can. It's getting real hard to avoid the garbage anymore.
Our living biological world, the thin film of slime we call soil and water and air and ecology spread around this planet is not capable of being endlessly extracted, mined, harvested, cut, chopped, taken and the remains then abandoned as mountains of garbage. There is a natural limit, just as there is a finite measurement of the planet's girth. A finite amount of copper, of iron, of helium, of every damned thing, and the unrestrained concentration and redistribution of all these things is hitting up against the finite limits of the living systems we call life on Earth.
There are new elements of extreme danger involved in a return to unrestrained, perpetual growth all over the world. The kind of danger an addict faces when he can't quit no matter the consequences already experienced.
If we took the whole human species and rolled it into one human being, and took the whole ecology of this planet and rolled it into one house and backyard, and walked through it we could not help but perceive that this one human is trashing the place, shitting where he eats, killing every other species without the slightest heed, overfishing and overharvesting the soil, water, air, seas, and the rocks themselves, and is in all ways acting as if he can just move somewhere else when this house falls down.
Worst of all, he is so mismanaging his own health that he is redolent with hundreds of toxic chemical compounds he knows nothing about; they permeate his every cell and organ, and he is so poorly nourished that he is subject to every kind of affliction that a person who cared for himself could easily avoid.
And yet this human marches around with a sword in one hand and a flag in the other, stomping on whatever he can in order to prove that he can. Doing this is what floats his boat. This is what does it for him.
If this species is to survive in any health and sanity on this overused planet, the pathological pursuit of profit as a means of dealing with ourselves and our planet will have to be outgrown. Capitalism as the embodiment and sanctification of heedless greed will have to be treated as a personality disorder, not a political philosophy.
One thousand years from now, the humans on this planet will be looking first to their environment and ecology, to the thin layer of biological slime that sustains them. Just as a colony of humans traveling through interstellar space would keep their algae and soil and fungi and trees going in order to keep themselves going, the colonists currently trashing this round, blue globe -- as it travels through space -- are going to have to learn to live with our planet.
Not merely on it.
It's about a lot more than America's standing, or economics as a science, or politics, or even globalization.
It's about making it at all.