I almost skipped this book after reading Reich’s resume (Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton) and reading the front flap of the book. I thought this would be a left wing diatribe about taxing the rich to redistribute wealth to the Occupy Wall Street millennials. I was wrong. This book is a very lucid thesis of why the economy (and thus politics) has been corrupted by big business and Wall Street. Reich discusses the CEO pay gap, Wall Street bonuses and the declining power of the middle class.. According to Reich the rules began changing about 30 years ago to concentrate wealth and power at the top. Reich doesn’t exonerate the Republicans but says the Democrats also are at fault. He faults Bill Clinton’s NAFTA treaty (Reich says he was against it but did not make those objections public), Clinton’s establishment of the World Trade Organization and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act that led to the risky investments that created banks too big to fail. Obama “enacted a broad based health care law that enriched insurance and pharmaceutical companies” and oversaw the stock market recovery that saw corporate profits soar to the highest portion of the national economy since 1929 and CEO pay rise at a skyrocketing rate.
Reich explains how this concentration of wealth has corrupted the political process through the buying of votes with huge campaign contributions and the golden parachute of politicians becoming lobbyists when they retire. Citizens United should be overturned. At the first Democratic debate Hillary Clinton all but said she is in the pocket of Wall Street. Reich writes “Dozens of major GOP donors, Wall Street Republicans, and corporate lobbyists have told the Washington journal Politico that if the Republican Party did not put forward a candidate supportive of big business and Wall Street…they would support Hillary Clinton.”
Reich’s solution to this mess is to change the rules so that the bottom 90% of Americans can get a chance to be a countervailing force to corporate and Wall Street greed. He writes “Instead of directly taxing the current income or wealth of a few and transferring it to the many, a more sensible approach is to more widely share future wealth.”
Anyone interested in how the political system and the economy got so screwed up should read this book. Reich does a lot better job than I at explaining this….I gotta go.