In a withered attack on the president, Joseph Stiglitz said that millions of people turned to food banks, reported to work because of low wages, and died of health inequalities.
The Nobel Prize winning economist said: “The number of people who turn to food banks is simply huge and exceeds their ability to supply. It’s like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working. “
Stiglitz, a longtime Trump critic, said that 14% of the population depended on food stamps and predicted that social infrastructure could not cope with unemployment that could reach 30% in the coming months.
“We have an inadequate safety net. In the United States, the inequality is so great. This disease has targeted less healthy people. In the advanced world, the United States is one of the countries with the poorest health and the greatest inequalities in health. “
Stiglitz said the Republicans objected to the plans to give those affected by the coronavirus 10 days of sick leave, which means that many workers would go to work even if they were infected. “The Republicans said no because they said it would set a bad precedent. It’s literally incredible. “
He added, “The safety net is not adequate and spreads the disease. Unemployment insurance is very weak and people don’t think they can count on it. “
In an interview with the Guardian to mark the publication of his book People, Power and Profits, Stiglitz was asked to wonder if the United States could be heading for a second Great Depression.
“Yes, that’s the answer in short,” he said. “If you leave it to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell [the Republican Senate majority leader] we will have a great depression. If we had the right political structure in place, we could easily avoid it. “
Stiglitz said that due to Trump’s mismanagement, the White House office responsible for pandemics had been closed, funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been cut, and the United States had entered the crisis without enough test kits, masks and protections. equipment. Encouraged by Trump, parts of the United States were determined to reopen in a way that would facilitate transmission of the disease and lead to a new epidemic, he added.
“In these circumstances, it will not be the government that will impose the lockdown, it will be fear. The concern is that people will not spend anything other than food and that is the definition of a Great Depression.
“We weren’t prepared, but, given the level of preparation, Trump’s decision to do this on politics rather than science meant that we responded much worse. “
Stiglitz said that if Trump was defeated in the November presidential race and the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress, there was a chance that the United States would move in a more progressive direction, but it has warned that Republicans would fight dirty to cling to Power.
“There is the repression of voters and gerrymandering. The Republican Party knows that it is a minority party and there is an unrestrained struggle to ensure that a minority party governs America. “
Stiglitz said the current crisis would force countries to make themselves less vulnerable, which would lead to shorter supply chains and more emphasis on food and energy self-sufficiency.
He added that the complexity of modern production methods meant that self-sufficiency was not possible, but added: “The fight against global pandemics and climate change requires global cooperation. It’s just that the President of the United States doesn’t understand that.
“I hope we get out of it with the prospect that multilateralism is even more important than we thought. It cannot be just a business driven globalization. We have to make it more resilient. “