The Common Good

Robert B. Reich. Knopf, $22.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-525-52049-8
Americans have gotten into the habit of looking out for number one at an overall cost to economic and political well-being, argues professor and former labor secretary Reich (Saving Capitalism) in this disquieting meditation. He believes Americans have lost their sense of connectedness, to one another and to larger ideals, leading to political self-destruction in the form of the Trump administration. As to the question of how this all happened, Reich sees Americans as having fallen prey to a whatever-it-takes mentality—whether applied to winning elections, maximizing profits, or rigging the economy. As a remedy, Reich urges a return to the historical ideal of a shared, common good. Most people, he points out, are set up for some degree of cooperation and compassion. Yet society has ended up with self-interested disaster artists such as Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager recently convicted of fraud, who embody the steady erosion of a civic trust Reich sees being fully dismantled by President Trump. This manifesto is geared more toward describing the problem—if there is no common good, Reich points out, there is no society—than resolving it. When Reich asks whether the common good can be restored, he seems genuinely unsure, though he urges his audience to try. Clear-voiced and accessible, this is a provocative look at where the U.S. has failed, if not quite a map to future success. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-525-43637-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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