Less stars for sheer hypocrisy: Robert Reich was the Secretary of Labor in the Bill Clinton administration, the same administration that did so much to help their Wall Street financiers by deregulating Wall Street during the Greenspan era! And not to mention the "free trade" agreements (NAFTA) and the war on Social Security.
Yes, you might hear some nice keywords and scratch the surface of some Progressive ideas, but why listen to a someone with so much political and financial baggage?
So enough with the likes of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, Michael Lewis, etc. They only appear to be critical thinkers next to the horde of shills in corporate mainstream media/publishing, but we can do better!
Try reading on the topic of "Neoliberalism" to understand how the status quo was constructed. Matt Taibbi's "Griftopia" is a fun place to start. Also, Donald Gutstein's "Harperism", which has a great introduction on the corporate takeover.
Also, the fantastic David Graeber ("Debt: The First 5,000 Years", "The Democracy Project")! Nomi Prins ("It Takes A Pillage", "All the Presidents' Bankers")! Economist Ha-Joon Chang. For the more technical, economist Michael Hudson is superb. Many amazing thinkers out there once you get past the corporate propaganda.
The book that the documentary Inequality For All is based on. This is a pretty quick and easy read. I think Reich is spot-on with his take on the current economy. Just take a look around at the struggling middle class, the obscene CEO pay, the cash corporations are hoarding, and the sputtering economy.
"...political theorist Robert B. Reich argues that the nation's 2008 economic collapse is the result of an increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top..." Well, duuuh, but the actual reason for the collapse, thanks to the lengthy planning and lobbying by the super-crook banksters, was their ultra-leveraging (selling the same thing - - debt - - over and over and over again, in the form of credit derivatives), ultra-leveraged speculation (taking the monies from that previously mentioned scam, and using it in speculation, or financial manipulation, of oil/energy and commodity prices upwards), and mega-insurance swindles (taking out endless number of policies [known as naked swaps, or uncovered credit default swaps] out against those individual ultra-leveraged entities, knowing they would fail, and consequently producing an infinite payout). And they broke the law, many many laws, both the letter of the law, tort laws, and the law which exists in almost all of the 50 states, the law of fraudulent conveyance. If only Reich weren't such a lightweight when it comes to real economics! (And why, for goodness sakes, is Reich for the voucher/privatization of schools? Is this guy really supposed to be a liberal? Or a Clinton neocon?)
Three recent books by prize-winning economists, “The Price of Inequality,” by Joseph Stiglitz, “The Conscience of a Liberal,” by Paul Krugman, and here, “Aftershock,” by Robert Reich, propose that income and wealth inequality were the major causes of the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2008. All of these books, provide statistical evidence that income inequality reached peaks whereby the wealthiest 1% took in 24% of the income in both these two years (see page 21). And in these books, the authors point out that the wealthy basically got that way with tax laws my means of which they took all of the benefits of improved worker productivity and gave none to the workers (see page 52). Reich foresees the future as he repeats Andrew Mellon’s quotation which seems very Romneyish in 2012. “Liquidate labor (Romney – “Let Detroit go bankrupt”), liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate (Romney – “let the housing market bottom out”). It will purge the rottenness out of the system…People will work harder, lead a more moral life.” – Yes, the wealthy preach that the middle-class suffers, not because the 1% steal the fruits of middle-class labor, but because the middle-class lacks the great morals that only the 1% possess. While the antidote to the thievery of men like Romney and his cohorts of 1%-ers as suggested by Reich in the last section of the book may be nonpassable, at least some modicum of relief of relief will come about because of the Affordable Care Act and the lapse of some of the Bush tax cuts that basically went to the 1% during the years 2001-2012. On the other hand, the Tea Party governor successful attacks on the unions, will idecrease the income equality by lowering all worker wages in their states (because all worker wages, not just unionized workers in pulverized union states are lowered).
A well written book that is short and to the point. The author draws a reasonable parallel between the Great Depression and the more recent Great Recession, with events leading up to both periods. Reich tells a cautionary tale of what could happen if we don't smarten up. What I like best is that he provides a detailed suggestion as to how things could change. It is always nice when a writer points out both problems AND solutions. Recommended food for thought even if you don't agree with the author.
The author provides a good summary of his arguments in the New York Times article, "The Limping Middle Class," at <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/opinion/sunday/jobs-will-follow-a-strengthening-of-the-middle-class.html>.
Not a bad short book. Unfortunately, the author proposes a number of economic "solutions" without any justification. The idea that school vouchers will solve the decline in American educational achievement because of 'competition' is not backed up by any data or footnotes. Likely, because all of the data that I have read says that it is incorrect. If you ignore the sloppiness of the book, it's interesting, but not as good as it really needs to be.
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