cover image The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

Jeffrey D. Sachs. Random, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6841-8

Best known for advising postcommunist and impoverished countries on development strategies, economist Sachs (Common Wealth) takes on the cesspool of debt, backwardness, and corruption that is the United States in this hard-hitting brief for a humane economy. Sachs surveys an America where the rich get richer and the rest grow poorer, less secure, and less prepared for a modern economy; where a fixation by both parties on cutting taxes and coddling corporate donors%E2%80%94Sachs issues stinging rebukes of Obama's policies%E2%80%94creates insupportable federal deficits and stymies critical reforms and spending programs; and where an electorate stupefied by mass media and advertising ignores its better instincts and pursues a mindless consumerism. The author's straightforward exposition, buttressed by a wealth of revealing tables and charts, sharply rebuts reigning free market orthodoxies and makes a compelling case for an activist state that redistributes wealth and makes life fairer and more productive for everyone. Sachs's remedies are less focused than his critique, and his pinning of all hope on the 15- to 29-year-old "Millennial Generation," aka "the children of the Internet," feels na%C3%AFve and ageist. Still, his stimulating, staunchly progressive take on America's dysfunctions is a must-read for every concerned citizen. (Oct.)