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Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  1,612 Ratings  ·  286 Reviews
From the author of Aftershock and The Work of Nations, his most important book to date--a passionate yet practical, sweeping yet minutely argued, myth-shattering breakdown of what's wrong with our political-economic system, and what it will take to fix it.

Perhaps no one is better acquainted with the intersection of finance and politics than Robert B. Reich, and now he reve
Hardcover, 219 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2004)
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Reich links the concentration of wealth at the top to their increasing political power, and therefore it is in their interest to maintain this system of affairs. Borrows heavily from J. K. Galbraith's idea of 'countervailing forces' to maintain a more stable form of democracy and market capitalism, including investment in human capital, unionization, and reform of legal loopholes. Like Atkinson, does not view inequality as the inevitable result of capitalism, but the deliberate result of misguid ...more
Oct 11, 2015 Caren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Reich's key point, and the one on which the rest of the book hangs, is that our political debate over preferring the "free market" on one hand to more government intervention on the other, is misguided: there is no disembodied market without rules made by government, that is, by humans. In our present culture, the rules strongly favor the people at the top---those with the most money---and that money buys power. He points out that this situation is not only not desirable but not sustainable in t ...more
Mal Warwick
Oct 20, 2015 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
If you’ve ever been exposed to Robert Reich’s “Wealth and Poverty” course at UC Berkeley, perhaps through the film Inequality for All, or heard him speak in public, you know that there are few people alive today who are his equal in the ability to explain complex economic and social issues so cogently and compellingly. And few indeed are as funny as he is, either: the man could make a go of a career with a standup act.

capitalismHowever, there’s not a lot of humor in Saving Capitalism, Reich’s fi
Dec 27, 2015 Miles rated it really liked it
In 1922, American philosopher John Dewey published Human Nature and Conduct, wherein he elucidated the relationship between freedom and knowledge. “The road to freedom,” he wrote, “may be found in that knowledge of facts which enables us to employ them in connection with desires and aims” (303). Dewey understood that human liberty and progress are always dependent on actionable assessments of present conditions. Without good information, the possibility of freedom evaporates.

Nearly a century lat
Sep 03, 2016 Alexa rated it really liked it
There is a beautifully clear simplicity to this. Reich’s straightforward analysis is simply a pleasure to read. He simultaneously offers us a chilling look at the market realities in force today and an inspiring view of what we can do to improve things. He is clear-sighted, persuasive, and ultimately inspiring. This is the book that made it clear to me why some people could simultaneously support Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

His thesis is that “the threat to capitalism is no longer communism
Matt Messinger
Dec 01, 2015 Matt Messinger rated it really liked it
This is one of those books I read because I enjoy reading authors with whom I agree. That said, I’d be curious to see a data-based refutation of what Reich argues; I think his argument would hold up under objective scrutiny.

In short, Reich’s thesis is the “free market” vs. “big government” debate is a distraction. The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith does not exist. In fact humans create the “market” via contracts, laws and policies. Those people with the most money define these components of the m
Dec 07, 2015 Cissa rated it it was amazing
This is an important and thorough look at the economic aspect of what is wrong in America today- and since many of our other ills spring from the economics, it speaks to areas not explicitly addressed as well.

If you are at all interested in how we got into this mess- and some similar historical situations- read this.

In brief: it is not the "free market" vs the "government"; the market would not even exist without the legal enforcement of the government. The problem is that as wealth is accumulat
Book Riot Community
Reich explains how political changes in the last three decades is accelerating wealth inequality. This is a book that any Bernie Sanders supporter would love. Reich is a great explainer, and entertaining writer. This is not dry economics. Anyone hoping to save the middle class will want to read Reich’s ideas about how to save capitalism.

— James Wallace Harris

from The Best Books We Read In July 2016:
"There are two modes of invading private property; the first, by which the poor plunder the rich...sudden and violent; the second, by which the rich plunder the poor, slow and legal" --- John Taylor, And Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States (1814)

I love the quote with which Reich opens his book!

New font is killing my eyes.
Feb 16, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's really preaching to the Liberal choir, but this is definitely one I wish more people would read. This book truly puts into clear perspective what is wrong with our political and economic system today, and could inspire revolution if only more of the 99% would tune in.
Jan 13, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This was a fascinating look at the current state of economics in the US. Robert Reich is clearly experience and knowledgable, I'm just not as hopeful as he that we can find the will as a nation to do the right things to save ourselves.
Athan Tolis
Nov 11, 2016 Athan Tolis rated it it was amazing
Capitalism most definitely is at a crossroads. To claim otherwise is, at best, denial.

What’s more worrying is that that there is next to no debate on the relevant issues.

I disagree with, dunno, four out of five conclusions Robert Reich draws in “Saving Capitalism,” but it is regardless the best book I’ve read in years because it defines the terms of the debate.

You read that right. I consider this left-wing book by a former Clinton (wash my mouth) Labor Secretary one of the best I can remember re
David Sasaki
Jul 28, 2016 David Sasaki rated it it was amazing
It was doubly frustrating to read a book of such sensible policy analysis during an election season that is practically devoid of any discussion of real policies and their effects on real people.

Saving Capitalism -- a dramatic title for a book that otherwise mostly avoids hyperbole -- begins with the premise that we must drop the typical way we frame liberalism and conservatism as big government versus small government. Ostensibly, Reich wants to appeal to both Bernie supporters and the Tea Par
Mack Hayden
Jan 03, 2017 Mack Hayden rated it really liked it
I'm skeptical of big business, big corporations, big banks *and* big government in about equal measure. Any remedy to the corporate oligarchy in which we find ourselves, in my opinion, has to recognize that ceding corporate power into the hands of an equally powerful state is playing with fire. Reich does a great job of laying out how we can critique and correct capitalism without throwing the baby out with the bath water. He thinks self-interest and innovation drives economies, incentivizing pr ...more
Jun 11, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Robert Reich concisely summarizes what's been happening with capitalism in the last few decades, showing how special interests have corrupted the system, and suggesting ways to fix it. This is one of those books everyone should read before November 8th. And it's a book that explains why Bernie Sander's campaign has drawn so many supporters. Wall Street, through its influence in Congress, is tweaking the system in their favor, and thus altering the way Americans live. Reich explains why corporati ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Kurtbg rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone interested in what has been happening in the US as the ties of business and politics have been compromised with replacing the individual vote with dollars as the coin of power in a failing democracy.

The book provided a good definition of how the economy runs, how markets are created and how rules and regulations purpose is to create a fair but still rewarding system that balances power, security and fairness. When those rules and regulations are compromised and with partis
Feb 11, 2016 Joshua rated it really liked it
My positive view of this book is a reflection of how it altered my thinking and made me aware that there are individuals such as Mr. Reich in existence.

If you have read Atlas Shrugged, Saving Capitalism will illuminate the frightful realities of "society" as portrayed in Ms. Rand's work
Dec 23, 2015 Book rated it it was amazing
Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich

“Saving Capitalism” is an excellent look at what it will take to save capitalism. Accomplished author current Professor of Public Policy, Robert Reich provides wonderful insights on our economy and how to make it work for the many instead of the few. This outstanding 304-page book includes twenty-four chapters and is broken out by the following three parts: I. The Free Market, II. Work and Worth, and III. Countervailing Power.

Alan Johnson
Mimi's review of Robert Reich's Saving Capitalism provides an excellent summary of the book. The present review focuses on Chapter 23 (the penultimate chapter) of the book, in which Reich sets forth what appears to be his most radical proposal for alleviating the long-term trend of replacing employees by automation. Ironically, Reich, a progressive, here supports a recommendation of the famous conservative-libertarian economist Friedreich von Hayek:

"Countervailing power would . . . use the proc
Todd Martin
Nov 08, 2015 Todd Martin rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance
“Liberty produces wealth, and wealth destroys liberty.”
― Henry Demarest Lloyd, Wealth Against Commonwealth (1894)

A free market is defined as - an economic system in which the prices for goods and services are set freely by consent between vendors and consumers, in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government.
Q: What do a free market and the Hansel and Gretel have in common?
A: Failures of the free market coupled with a lack of social services left
Jan 17, 2017 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Several good takeaways:
--Your take home pay is not a reflection of your worth.
--"Free markets" vs. "Government" is a fictional dichotomy.
--Markets are made up of our collective decisions about property (what can be owned), monopoly (how much market power is allowed), contract (what and the terms on which things can be bought and sold), bankruptcy (what happens when payment can't be made), and enforcement (preventing cheating on these decisions and fostering trust).

A recommended read.
Sep 16, 2016 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saving Capitalism is the best explanation of the current economic situation in America that I have ever read. Reich proposes somewhat progressive solutions to the massive problems, not necessarily by expanding government, but by changing the way government sets the rules of the marketplace.

Robert Reich points out that there is no such thing as a free market in nature. Every market in the history of civilization has been regulated by some authority, usually government. Whether governed by pharaoh
Devin Brown
Oct 05, 2016 Devin Brown rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps one of the most relevant, concise and poignant books relating to the disastrous state of modern capitalism. Reich wastes no time in pointing out the critical flaws to not only capitalism, but also democracy as a whole. The failure to define a "free market" in which the majority class can pursue a life of freedom, choice, prosperity and growth is ultimately the backbone of Reich's thesis.

The illusive and poorly balanced rules of a society controlled predominately by the non-workin
Kyle Minton
Dec 23, 2015 Kyle Minton rated it really liked it
I picked up Saving Capitalism because on Facebook, where I follow Robert Reich, every one of his posts, regardless of subject, seemed to sum up exactly the way I thought and felt on the matter. This book is really no different; it is a summation of what I believe needs to happen politically in order for our nation to be great. Not "great again", but great in general. By the end of it there is no doubt in my mind that capitalism as we practice it in this country is broken, that it is possible to ...more
Lori Faberson
May 16, 2016 Lori Faberson rated it really liked it
My main takeaway from Reich’s latest book is that our financial markets are a human construct, so endless debates about how much or little the government should “intervene” are absurd. Someone’s writing the rules, so let’s discuss who gets a seat at the table.

Another item of note for me was the change in corporate values. Whereas in the mid-20th century corporations functioned with all stakeholders in mind [i.e., employees, management, shareholders, customers, communities, etc.], starting in the
Jan 23, 2016 David rated it really liked it
An important book, which argues as follows:

The argument between "the market" and "government" is the wrong question, a distraction from the real issue. Markets can only exist as a set of rules, made and enforced by governments. For example, it used to be legal to buy and sell other people.

Reich shows how the rules governing markets and the economy have come to be influenced primarily by large corporations and wealthy individuals. As that has happened, the rules have changed to rig the game in f
Jul 08, 2016 Daniel rated it it was amazing
We have all been duped into the wrong debate.

It has never been small vs big government, or free market vs government-centric economy. It is how capitalism is designed, and for whom the benefits are. The current capitalism, where only a small minority keeps getting richer but the majority gets ever poorer, is clearly broken.

The author proposed many ways to fix the system, such as Germany style company boards where workers sit together with other CEOs, closing tax loopholes holes, increasing tax
Phil Costa
Dec 21, 2015 Phil Costa rated it really liked it
Very perceptive and passionate analysis of the structural problems that are driving the increasing gap between rich and poor in the US (and other parts of the world). I found Reich's emphasis on debunking the false distinction between free market vs. government intervention a really useful way to look at political economy.

Unfortunately, I found the solutions/recommendations at the end of the book a big letdown weak compared to the analysis of the problems and causes. Hopefully, Reich's thinking
Oct 05, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
I kind of chuckle at his vision of robots, where have we seen this before? Other than that, this is a very serious and very important truth. He makes the point that we've been arguing the wrong thing. Talk about regulation and you'll get something about how the market is more efficient, but the market runs on rules and someone needs to make them. And, I'd like to have them made in a transparent way, by people who have accountability to more than the highest bidder. I really to like Robert Reich. ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Lynne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
After reading just 50 pages, I'm about ready to move to Europe where sanity (at least compared to the US) reigns...

Everyone in the US should read this book...economic principles and conditions are written for the non-economist...and the negative ramifications of our current all-but-unfettered capitalism in the US are enormous.

If we want our country to survive, and most especially survive as a democracy, then we need to change the rules that the corporations/rich have put in place to protect them
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Robert Bernard Reich is an American politician, academic, and political commentator. He served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Reich is a former Harvard University professor and the former Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Un ...more
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“The idea of a “free market” separate and distinct from government has functioned as a useful cover for those who do not want the market mechanism fully exposed. They have had the most influence over it and would rather keep it that way. The mythology is useful precisely because it hides their power.” 5 likes
“Government doesn’t “intrude” on the “free market.” It creates the market. The rules are neither neutral nor universal, and they are not permanent. Different societies at different times have adopted different versions. The rules partly mirror a society’s evolving norms and values but also reflect who in society has the most power to make or influence them.” 3 likes
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