Joseph E. Stiglitz
New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 2013
CHF: 15,22/ EUR:14.25/ USD: 14.62
Born in Gary, Indiana in 1943, Joseph E. Stiglitz is an American economist and professor at Columbia University. He was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information. His work focuses on income distribution, risk, corporate governance, public policy, macroeconomics and globalization. He is author of several books, one of them being The Price of Inequality (1).
This book’s central thesis is that inequality is not inevitable, and we are paying a huge price for its existence. Not only the economy but also the society as a whole suffers its effects.
In each chapter of the book, several misconceptions are evaluated and deconstructed; possible solutions are presented for each of them.
One of the main ideas present in this book is that inequality varies between different countries. The Gini coefficient is a standard measure of inequality that can be useful to compare countries. If income were equally distributed to all, the Gini coefficient would be 0, which means absolute equality. On the contrary, if all the income were delivered to a single person, the Gini coefficient would be 1, which means maximum inequality. According to this measure, countries such as Sweden, Norway and Germany, with a coefficient around 0.3, may be considered more equal societies, when compared to the United States of America (US), which has a coefficient of approximately 0.4. Furthermore, and according to data from the World Bank, the US’ Gini index has increased from 0.403 in 2010 to 0.414 in 2016 (2). Conversely, Portugal’s Gini index decreased from 0.358 in 2010 to 0.338 in 2016 (2)
Another of the myths that is deconstructed is that someone’s income is proportional to
the value delivered to society. As the author explains, the richest individuals in American society are not scientists, for example, but people that know how the economy works and that take advantage from the loopholes in the system, such as CEOs of big companies or people who work in the financial sector, for example.
Another idea explained is that the trickle-down economics, by reducing taxation at the top is, in the long run, bad for the economy, creating a snowball effect that can end up with an economic recession. In addition, the fact that the world is a global market means that anyone in any country is “competing” with other professionals in other countries. Those professionals can be hired for jobs at a lower cost than professionals from the same country. This devaluates the job and, consequently, reduces those professionals’ wages. Therefore, it seems that “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer”.
Why does inequality tend to persist? The 1% top of society’s influence on policymakers and on the public perception about their activities may play an important role. Good legislation may have the power to prevent the generation of monopolies. The creation of monopolies hinders competitiveness, making the market not working as it should. Therefore, it is important to create laws which promote competitiveness in the market, political reforms, financial regulation, social legislation and better education, reducing inequality.
Autoria Nuno Do Amparo
Edição Filipa Gomes
1. Columbia University 2020, accessed 17 June 2020, https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/bio
2. The World Bank 2020, accessed 28 June 2020, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI?end=2016&locations=US&start=2016&view=bar
19/6/2021 0 Comentários
Smallpox: The Death of a Disease was written by Dr. Henderson, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Smallpox Global Eradication Unit and a key expert in Public Health.
The narrative starts with a historical background of this deadly disease and its main characteristics. Then, the difficulties of convincing leaders in relevant political positions, including the Director-General of WHO, that smallpox could be eradicated are described. One sentence I found particularly striking was: “Not surprisingly, the debate as to whether or not to pursue smallpox eradication came down primarily to a question of money”.
In chapter 3, the author presents one important discovery, that took place in 1965: the bifurcated needle, which made possible to get 100 vaccinations out of a vial vaccine, instead of only 25 vaccinations.
In the following chapters, Dr. Henderson describes in detail the adversities that he and his local teams had to face in Africa and in Asia. Those difficulties included social, geographic, and political problems, such as densely populated areas, migrations, droughts, and false data (“…soon it became apparent that reports of known cases were being suppressed.”).
In chapter 8, he describes the last case of smallpox, in 1977, in Merca, Somalia. Two years later, smallpox was considered officially eradicated. In the 33rd World Health Assembly (8th May 1980), the final report stated: “ … calls this unprecedented achievement in the history of public health to the attention of all nations, which by their collective action have freed mankind of this ancient scourge and, in so doing, have demonstrated how nations working together in a common cause may further human progress.”
Finally, D.A. Henderson concludes with “Lessons and Legacies of Smallpox Eradication”, as a “… demonstration of how much could be accomplished with how little in the control of infectious diseases through community-wide vaccination programs.”.
Smallpox vs. COVID-19 – The story of (trying) to Eradicate a Worldwide Killer (again):
At the present, we are facing again a global pandemic, due to a worldwide killer: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
If we compare COVID-19 with smallpox, there are several similarities such as:
However, there are also differences, some of which make the SARS-CoV-2 virus more difficult to eliminate (or even eradicate) than the smallpox virus, as listed below:
Important lessons from the eradication of smallpox should be taken and applied to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Public Health professionals’ effort is key to the control of this pandemic: “The triumph belongs to an exceptional group of national workers and to a dedicated international staff from countries around the world who have shared privations and problems in pursuit of the common goal.”
Autoria Filipa Malcata
Edição Filipa Gomes
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission | Smallpox | CDC [Internet]. Cdc.gov. 2016. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/transmission/index.html
2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Transmission of COVID-19 [Internet]. 2020. Available from: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/latest-evidence/transmission