Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz gave a powerful speech at the annual AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles.


"It’s been clear to me that our economy has been sick for a long time," he began, introducing a theme he would hammer home throughout the speech. "For too long, the hardworking and rule-abiding had seen their paychecks shrink or stay the same, while the rule-breakers raked in huge profits and wealth," he said. "It made our economy sick, and our politics sick, too."

He attacked those who oppose living wages in the name of the abstraction of "cutting spending," saying that "[w]e won't achieve [true and sustainable prosperity] through mindless cutbacks in public spending, whether in schools, hospitals, police, or firemen. These are ways to keep our economy sick. And an economy in which 95% of the growth goes to the top 1% can only be called that: sick."

Stiglitz then called on the members of the AFL-CIO to encourage others to unionize, citing Pres. Lincoln on the consequences of dividing houses: "We have become a house divided against itself – divided between the 99% and the 1%, between the workers, and those who would exploit them. We have to reunite the house, but it won't happen on its own."

"It will only happen if workers come together. If they organize. If they unite to fight for what they know is right, in each and every workplace, in each and every community, and in each and every state capital and in Washington. We have to restore not only democracy to Washington, but to the workplace."

Watch his entire speech here: