Book Review: Saving Capitalism by Robert B. Reich

I really like Robert Reich, and as far as economists go he offers a breath of fresh air. Saving Capitalism is an easy and informative read, and it deepened my understanding of many of the challenges we face today — particularly the causes behind our ever-widening disparity between rich and poor, and the self-perpetuating link between economic and political power of “the few” at the expense of “the many”.

I couldn’t decide how to rate this — as 3 or 4 stars. I’m getting a little tougher with my ratings, so I went with 3 stars … but I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. Three things that caused me not to rate it higher were:

(1) it reiterated much of what I’ve already grown to understand about the problems of modern-day capitalism (in part because I have been following Reich’s commentary for a while);

(2) as thorough as Reich’s economic analysis is, it is still rooted in the paradigm of a consumption-based growth economy — in other words, there is little or no mention of the environment, or of solutions beyond of the realm of capitalism as we know it; and

(3) Reich presented far more detail about the problems we face than the solutions he is proposing — i.e. solutions were little more than concepts, where I had been hoping for something closer to a roadmap.

Within the “box” that is capitalism, Reich does a nice job of looking to the past for potential solutions to our economic problems. Assuming people can collectively find a way to co-exist with the planet in a capitalist system — a topic which Reich does not explore in any depth — he provides a rough framework for co-existing with one another on a more level playing field.

If I set aside my idealism and recognize that the title of this book was not “World Saving for Dummies”, I would have to say that Saving Capitalism is a very worthwhile read.

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