cover image Adrift: America in 100 Charts

Adrift: America in 100 Charts

Scott Galloway. Portfolio, $29 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-54240-8

In this data-driven analysis, NYU business professor Galloway (Post Corona) charts rises in economic inequality, political partisanship, and social alienation since the 1980s. Contending that Ronald Reagan’s tax and budget cuts boosted the economy but suppressed social mobility, Galloway uses graphs, pie charts, and other visuals to illustrate the stark divide in wage growth between the top 1% of American workers and the rest, the declines in infrastructure spending that have left 45% of Americans without access to public transportation, and the sharp increase—from 5% to more than half—of corporate profits registered in foreign tax havens. On the flip side, he presents data documenting how U.S.-led globalization efforts over the past 40 years have decreased global poverty and infant mortality rates. The picture that emerges is one of accelerating domestic decline, as Reagan’s ethos of “rugged individualism” has morphed into “idolatry of innovators” while fostering intolerance and distrust in government. There’s a distinct randomness to the information presented—“teeth grinding & clenching” were up 71% in 2021, while Gen Zers unlocked their smartphones 79 times per day in 2018—and some of the graphs feel more obligatory than edifying, but Galloway diagnoses a wide range of social ills. Readers will find much food for thought. (Sept.)