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Saving Capitalism

 

Saving Capitalism: For the Many Not the Few, Robert B. Reich

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

New York Times: To understand “Saving Capitalism,” Robert Reich’s sweeping treatise on inequality in America, you must accept a central premise: The free market is fundamentally a human construct and so to debate the appropriateness of government in shaping it is beside the point. Someone is always writing the rules of the market. Reich’s concern is that over the last three decades, the lead authors have been Wall Street, big corporations and the wealthy elite. His fear is that “we are lurching toward a capitalism so top-heavy it cannot be sustained.”

As treatises on inequality go, much of this one is familiar. Reich, who served as secretary of labor under Bill Clinton, criticizes the Citizens United decision, corporate lobbying, tax rates on capital gains and the accrual of “dynastic wealth.” But he also hints at another culprit for modern political and economic distortions, less obvious than the superrich and thereby all the more insidious: a naïve faith in the American dream. Myths and legends, as Hunter S. Thompson observed, die hard in America, but perhaps none so hard as this one. Reich, raised in South Salem, N.Y., remembers when “work hard, get ahead” was still very much achievable. His father sold clothes to the wives of factory workers, the first shop eventually yielding a second. “We weren’t rich,” Reich writes, “but never felt poor.” For 30 years after World War II, the family’s income and purchasing power grew in lock step with the American economy, as did that of the broader middle class.

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Saving Capitalism  

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