The Most Important Book I Read All Year…No Really

At the beginning of the quarter, my professor said that one of the assigned books would be one of the most important books we read all year. Right. Like most college students, I don’t always read all the assigned readings for my classes, but this quarter…I’m sure glad I did. Saving Capitalism: For the Many Not the Few is not one of the most important books I’ve read all year…it is one of the most important books I’ve read to date.

Written by the well-known political commentator, economist, professor, and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, Saving Capitalism tears open the world of politics and economics. With the 2016 Presidential Election still fresh in our minds and many left confused as to how Trump won, Reich essentially explains why we have ended up in our current, and quite hostile, political and economic climate.

In recent decades there has been a lot of discontentment with the way capitalism operates. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, people are losing jobs to machines, and it seems that more and more politicians only care about getting reelected and campaigning. Although many critics are quick to blame capitalism for this widening inequality gap, Reich does not condemn capitalism in itself. The main point Reich makes throughout the book is that once capitalism stops providing the majority, it eventually stops providing for all (including those at the top).

According to Reich, there is nothing inherently wrong with capitalism and there is nothing “unnatural” about government involvement in economics. However, he does condemn the power that has gone to the financial elite -- which many of us know as the 1%. The richest 400 people hold more of the country’s wealth than the bottom 50%, which Reich considers unjust in a democracy. But he blames corporations, not capitalism or a single political party.

Reich describes how corporations have taken hold of power both economically and politically to rewrite the “rules of the game” to benefit those at the top. This is something that affects all of us. It is the reason many feel cheated by the political system (on both sides of the aisle). It is why people are graduating college with huge debt and no job prospects. In short, it is the reason our country is in the state it is right now. However, Reich offers a wide array of solutions to close this inequality gap such as: restoring countervailing power (power of the people) and reimagining corporations and how they are run.

Now, I am aware that Robert Reich is known to be fairly liberal-minded, and I must say some of his proposed solutions lean pretty far left, but hear him out. So whether you gravitate more toward the right or the left, are a political or economic theory junkie, or just want to know what the hell is going on in this country, I suggest you pick up a copy of Saving Capitalism and discuss it with those around you. Political and economic theory aside, Reich says that the most important steps in saving capitalism are for people to get informed and join together. In my opinion, reading Saving Capitalism is a pretty good place to start.

 

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