author: Robert B. Reich
average rating: 4.00
book published: 2010
read at: 2011/04/02
date added: 2011/04/02
shelves: ebook, economics, history, politics
"To summarize: the fundamental problem is that Americans no longer have the purchasing power to buy what the US economy is capable of producing. The reason is that a larger and larger portion of total income has been going to the top. What’s broken is the basic bargain linking pay to production. The solution is to remake the bargain." (Ch 11)
That’s the whole book in a single paragraph. The first part is all about how the hell we got here, from before the Great Depression to the current day. The second gives some speculation about how people might freak out (basically) and give in to bad impulses. And the third part is a brief and fairly specific set of policy proposals for avoiding that.
Nothing here, outside of the specific proposals, that was completely new to me, but it was very clearly written and engaging. One aspect that was particularly good was starting with Marriner Eccles, chair of the Federal Reserve Board from 1934 to 1948. (No, I hadn’t heard of him either.) The process by which he came to proto-Keynesian ideas forms the first chapter, and coming from a Scottish-American Mormon banker, it’s fascinating:
"It became apparent to me, as a capitalist, that if I lent myself to this sort of action and resisted any change designed to benefit all the people, I could be consumed by the poisons of social lag I had helped created."
Definitely recommended. (Now, what to do about it?!)