The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It

Robert B. Reich. Knopf, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-525-65904-4
In this incisive critique, former U.S. secretary of labor Reich (The Common Good) argues that America’s political and economic system has “become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed interests that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while average workers have steadily lost bargaining leverage.” He identifies three major developments over the past four decades: a shift from “stakeholder capitalism” to “shareholder capitalism,” in which business decisions are gauged only by the profits they generate; the transfer of bargaining power from unions to corporations; and financial deregulation that have allowed some to reap huge profits, while the weight of financial risk is borne by average people. These changes have empowered a small economic elite to translate massive wealth into political clout, securing policies that enable them to accumulate more money and power. Reich forcefully critiques J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s endorsement of “corporate social responsibility” as a vastly insufficient answer to the perils of crony capitalism, which he credits for widespread populist anger that has found its outlet in xenophobia and authoritarianism. The cure, Reich believes, is a multiethnic, multiracial coalition recommitted to the work of citizenship and a more equitable reallocation of power. Though Reich gives undue credit to the social virtues of mid-century corporate leaders, his critique of the current system is evidence-based and authoritative. This call-to-action will resonate with progressive readers. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 03/17/2020
Release date: 03/24/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-525-65905-1
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-593-08200-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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