Sunday, 6 December 2015

Saving Capitalism

Finished December 3
Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich

This book looks at the myths of capitalism and the facts of capitalism, showing how those in power misrepresent government's role and how the current trend is not sustainable nor good for anyone in the long run. The author gives a brief introduction and then the book is separated into three parts.
The first part talks about the "Free Market", and has nine chapters. The first chapter gives the prevailing view (widely portrayed) of the free market. The second chapter introduces the five building blocks of capitalism: property, monopoly, contract, bankruptcy, and enforcement. These five things are elements the government determines the nature of. It is the way the government determines these elements that defines how the market operates. Free market is a misnomer, as it is determined by how the government determines these elements. The third chapter looks are the nature of freedom and power.
The fourth chapter discusses property, the fifth monopoly, the sixth contracts, the seventh bankruptcy, and the eighth enforcement. The ninth chapter summarizes the market mechanism as a whole.
The second part looks at work and the myths that surround it, and consists of six chapters. The first looks at the myth of meritocracy, the idea that we earn what we deserve. The second looks at the underlying, not always visible mechanisms that determine CEO pay. The third does the same for Wall Street pay. The fourth looks at how the bargaining power of the middle class has been in decline for decades. The fifth looks at the rising numbers of working poor, those people that work hard, yet can never earn enough to survive without assistance. The sixth looks at the rising numbers of non-working rich, those who don't work yet still have much more than they need to survive and how the rules have changed gradually to create this growth.
The third part looks at the nature and need for countervailing power, and consists of nine chapters. The first is a summary of where we stand now. The second looks at how the current market mechanisms are a threat to capitalism. The third looks at how countervailing power has declined over the years. The fourth gives a number of ways to restore countervailing power to the market. The fifth discusses the issues of pre-distributions upwards and how to end that. The sixth discusses ways to redefine the corporation. The seventh discusses ways to deal with the ways that technology has replaced jobs. The eighth discusses the role of the citizen in the market. The ninth looks at new rules for the capitalistic market that will make it for the many and not the few.
Reich explains everything very well, uses lots of real world examples, and gives real solutions to the current problems. I highly recommend this book.

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