The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life
Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307265616, 288pp.
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
From the greatly admired author of The Work of Nations and The Future of Success, one of America's greatest economic and political thinkers as well as a distinguished public servant in three national administrations, a breakthrough book on the clash between capitalism and democracy.
Mid-twentieth-century capitalism has turned into global capitalism, and global capitalism—turbocharged, Web-based, and able to find and make almost anything just about anywhere—has turned into supercapitalism. But as Robert B. Reich makes clear in this eye-opening book, while supercapitalism is working wonderfully well to enlarge the economic pie, democracy—charged with caring for all citizens—is becoming less and less effective under its influence.
Reich explains how widening inequalities of income and wealth, heightened job insecurity, and the spreading effects of global warming are the logical outcomes of supercapitalism. He shows us why companies, fighting harder than ever to maintain their competitive positions, have become even more deeply involved in politics; and how average citizens, seeking great deals and invested in the stock market to an unprecedented degree, are increasingly loath to stand by their values if it means biting the hands that feed them. He makes clear how the tools traditionally used to temper America's societal problems—fair taxation, well-funded public education, trade unions—have withered as supercapitalism has burgeoned.
Reich sets out a clear course to a vibrant capitalism and a concurrent, equally vibrant democracy. He argues forcefully that the spheres of business and politics must be kept distinct. He calls for an end to the legal fiction that corporations are citizens, as well as the illusion that corporations can be "socially responsible" until laws define social needs. Reich explains why we must stop treating companies as if they were people—and must therefore abolish the corporate income tax and levy it on shareholders instead, hold individuals rather than corporations guilty of criminal conduct, and not expect companies to be "patriotic." For, as Reich says, only people can be citizens, and only citizens should be allowed to participate in democratic decision making.
“Smart and provocative . . . Reich’s proposed responses to supercapitalism are at once bold and surprising . . . [he] challenges us to think deeply about political economy.”
-News & Observer
“The book succeeds brilliantly. Clear-eyed, well-reasoned, and deeply insightful, Supercapitalism is must reading for anyone interested in the fate of our country and its institutions . . . timely and important reading for a country in deep distress.”
“Critically important . . . the value of this book isn’t in proposing a specific policy prescription. It’s about waking up and educating several generations of Americans who can’t seem to understand that you can’t have it all for free . . . It’s the most important message anyone can impart today.”
-San Francisco Bay Guardian
“A grand debunking of the conventional wisdom . . . the main thrust of Reich’s argument is right on target . . Reich documents in lurid detail the explosive growth of corporate lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions since the 1970s.”
-The New York Times Book Review
“Reich is that most exotic of species: an economist who can write.”
-San Francisco magazine
“Supercapitalism is not a polemic or a call to arms. Reich is merely trying to dent capitalism’s rock-star status while suggesting to a dazed citizenry that, as Shakespeare said of Caesar’s Rome, the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“Surprising . . . Reich paints a disturbing portrait of a world in which corporations have become our quasi-government.”
“An engaging and insightful account.”
-Harvard Business Review