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The Common Good

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  950 ratings  ·  184 reviews
From the best-selling author of Saving Capitalism and The Work of Nations, a passionate, clear-eyed manifesto on why we must restore the idea of the common good to the center of our economics and politics.

With the warmth and lucidity that have made him one of our most important public voices, Robert B. Reich makes the case for a generous, inclusive understanding of the Ame
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published February 20th 2018 by Knopf Publishing Group
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  950 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics

Just what I needed: a progressive book that concentrates on the positive, by a man who points a way forward for us all. "Positive” and “forward” are hard to do, under the yoke of King Donald the Mad.

Robert Reich even manages to see the positive in Mad King Donald himself. It is Trump who has “brought us back to first principles,” Reich argues, for he gets us “talking about democracy versus tyrrany.” And Reich is convinced that the key to snatching democracy from the jaws of tyranny depends on ou
This is a very timely essay. Reich takes a look at Adam Smith’s economic design, ideal of truth and equitable competition. Reich states we are a nation of law and order bound on the common good. He says the enemies of the common good range from the slumlords to megabanks and untrammeled hedge funds. These all disregard the rules of society for selfish gains. Reich stresses the importance of the truth; he proceeds to point out the problems caused by lies.

Robert B. Reich is following the lead of S
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
How to restore the notion of common good is a vital topic. This book makes some good points. Unfortunately, it is much more of a rant about rampant evil than a guide to the common good. Also, I don't quite agree with the bit on why we lost the common good and how to get it back.

Having recently watched the Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam, I think Reich is downplaying the importance of LBJ's campaign of systematic disinformation against the American people, in terms of what destroyed the prev
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reich presents a few reassuring words and suggestions on what we must do to restore Americans' faith in the common good. Hint: we need to dispose of "whatever it takes to win" partisanship, "whatever it takes to maximize profits" CEOs, and "whatever it takes to rig the economy" money pouring into politics. Sure seems like a pipe dream these days unless more voters suddenly become more informed.

I also plan to try the technique that Reich discusses regarding the use of Honor and Shame next year wh
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A short, compelling read, (written and) published at a time when its message is incredibly important. I recommend it without hesitation, and it's the kind of thing I wish that high school teachers recommended to (or even considered requiring of) the nation's teenagers.

As much as I appreciated Reich's discussion of "resurrecting truth" and the critical need for "civic education for all," I found the most compelling chapters in the book the ones that focused on leadership (not just government, but
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this. Reich explains what people have in common..the fundamental basis of what our society shares and why people like Shkreli and Ayn Rand are wrong.
Gary Moreau
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If Robert Reich has not written the best book of political economy in a long while, he has certainly written the most timely and necessary book of our time. And it’s written on one fundamental truth: The reality of American history is the pursuit of an ideal of individuality defined by the common good, not the achievement of individual Americans jockeying for personal advantage at any cost to the common good.

Without the collective good, there is no society. Without regulatory restrictions insuri
Bill Warren
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding, Reich is as entertaining as he is enlightening. This book ought be required reading for every elected official, spiritual leader, and business exec across the nation.
John  Mihelic
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reich's heart is in the right place. In this book he takes a look at how norms have been eroded in the last couple years (more than that, but especially since the election of the current president). It feels a little too surface level without looking at the deeper structural problems.

Reich is old enough to remember the world before Watergate and Neoliberalism, where if you were a certain race and class, then you didn't have to worry about as much as you do now. There's been a number of books lo
Michael Austin
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I wanted to really like this book because it is such an important topic and because I agree that we have, as a nation, lost sight of the concept of a "common weal," or a common good. But I only sort of liked it because, while it is occasionally insightful, it reads like a first draft and, in many places, descends from its lofty thesis to become a series of rants about things that the author doesn't like. I'm glad that I read it, but I probably won't quote it much: its diagnosis is too general, a ...more
Ailith Twinning
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This book actually digs out several of the points where I find myself wondering if, somehow, Reich manages to be naive. It's endearing how hopeful he is, definitely read this, but it's really not his best work from my perspective. But then, to be fair, I just can't wrap my head around seeing the basic systems of the world today as anything other than actual evil. I usetacould. . .but, man, I can't these days. I learned too much about how they work, and how perfectly normal my own life was, never ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Although I agree with Reich’s position that we have lost civility in this country, I was searching for more ideas on how to bring it back. Yes civic education in schools and universities will help, but what about the rest of us? Are we a lost cause if we’re over 25? I hope not! We need to stay aware, hold politicians and corporate leaders accountable. Vote. Shop responsibly. And most of all, talk to each other.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, read-in-2018
Feels like notes for a TED talk.
Michael Huang
The common good is the short hand for the set of values, ideals, and norms shared by a society (such as freedom, fairness, trust) that makes the society functional and healthy. The US constitution embodies this common good: "we the people" will promote general welfare. But people like Ayn Rand promotes a different view where common good will lead to tyranny whereas a society should be structured based on self-interest. People can also exploit the common good for their self-interest (e.g., thief ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thought provoking book about the way so many things and people in the US have turned away from the common good for the country. He outlines simply and clearly how he thinks this came about and how we can regain it. It is non partisan and he is critical of both Democrats and Republicans in an inoffensive way.
Peter A
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This long essay (184 pages)/short book lays out a case for the United States society to refocus on “the common good” in our civic, political and economic national dialog. In the three sections, What is the common good?, What happened to the common good?, and Can the common good be restored?, he addresses these questions with reason and with examples, and finalizes each of the section with a short summary of key points.

Let me quote from the book, to give the reader of this review a summary of th
L J Watts,
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

From the very first page, with the details of pharmaceutical CEO Shkreli's story and the banking CEO Stumpf's appearance, this book grabbed me by my emotional center as almost no book ever has. Honestly, I feel angry. Actually angry.

The reason this book is so compelling, I think, is that it rings of a truth that I've known for a while but haven't actually heard anyone say. Consider how it starts. It begins with Shkreli, the American hedge fund guy who bought out a pharmaceutical compa
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish this was required reading.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book explores the centrality of "the common good" to our identity as a nation and how over the last several decades people have increasingly lost sight of this important democratic ideal. Reich defines the common good as “our shared values about what we owe one another as citizens who are bound together in the same society.” Reich writes about the erosion of the common good over the last several decades through examples of corporate greed, "whatever-it-takes-to-win" politics, and the breakd ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
While this book was written by an author whom I vaguely remember in my youth as having been more conservative, or right-wing, than what I was comfortable with in more recent times, I now see him as more moderate, perhaps because I am now looking through the lens of what we see here, in these very polarizing times. That is rightly what he tries to take aim at in his book: despite what I see as some rather unfair critiques that he levels at former President Obama, he is working to make us all unde ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I appreciate the most about this reading, is it clearly lays out that the responsibility for the horrendous state of our current political discourse and erosion of our cohesion as a nation lies at the feet of us all. Reich calls out all sides from the media, academia, politicians, corporations and the average American citizen. He makes it clear that if we are dismayed by the "other" side it is more than just differing philosophies but rather a reflection of our country embracing "whatever i ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it

there is a lot to say for a rather simple book. Reich is the definition of a New Deal liberal, an anachronism in a world where neoliberalism has infiltrated the political establishment and those challenging its hegemony looking for much more radical solutions than Reich proposes. Reich obviously appreciates the crisis that capitalism finds itself in, growing inequality, growing alienation from governing institutions, and what he sees as the destruction of an ethos he believes once allowed for
Vijay Menon
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
To save myself the inevitable accusations of bias, I must admit up front that I am a Robert Reich stan.

I credit his previous works -- Saving Capitalism in particular -- with indelibly re-shaping my worldviews and perspectives in dramatic and meaningful ways. I firmly believe that Reich is a man of honor and courage, imbued and dripping with integrity. I wish nothing more than that we all espoused the values that I have observed him admirably standing for, time and time again.

Now that we’ve got
This is an exploration of what it means to live in a civilization versus an enclave with a philosophy of every one for themselves. It covers current events as well as the series of events that have eroded common goals and civic responsibility in the US. The shift in corporate responsibility from stake holders to share holders is examined along with the lack of shame of corporations and leaders. There is a lot to think about, but not too many steps that the average person can take to right things ...more
Rick Ferris
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Political leanings aside the author raises salient points about changes in the country away from caring more for the common good to a more internal self only care. Fast read.
Paul Womack
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A brief but helpful introduction to the decline of the criteria for the common good in our economic, political and social life. Leaders from all elements of our society come in for Reich’s critique. I agree we would benfit from a return to an affirmatiom of civic virtue, that would be nothing less than a bi-partisan reform and renew our national ethos about the value and dignity of the person in community with other perspns of value and dignity.
Melissa Fondakowski
A great follow up to saving capitalism

I love the idea of the common good. I think if we can define it together, just because we live together in a society is a good enough reason to do it. There doesn't need to be an answer to "why should I?" When it comes to caring for others/all of us. Why SHOULDN'T you?
Pat Newcomb
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What unites us?

I hope that this book will find its way into the hands of blues and reds alike. At a time when the all to the tribe is rampant, this book charts a course back to the return to a common focus - the value of the group over the individual.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: socio-political
Reich, who is one of my favorite thinkers and writers, does a good job of conveying how the US has gone astray. He's a hopeful man, and that shows, but somehow I came away less hopeful than I was before I started the book. How does one not give up? Reich outlines some ways, though in my estimation they're a bit too pie-in-the-sky.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and timely book about what has gone wrong with our country and how to fix it. The answer is that we lost our sense of a Common Good for all citizens. The winner-takes-all political landscape, the whatever-it-takes corporate profit greed, and the whatever-it-takes to rig the economy mentality that we have sunk to has destroyed any sense of the Common Good: what we owe to each other as citizens. Reich also lays out his ideas on how to recapture our Common Good to save our democracy. High ...more
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UCAS English 11 R...: August Reading Assignment 1 3 Aug 31, 2018 07:18PM  
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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
“Political victories that undermine trust in politics shouldn’t be considered victories; they’re net losses for society. Record corporate profits achieved by eroding the public’s trust in business aren’t successes; they’re derelictions of duty. Lobbying and campaign donations that result in laws and regulations favoring the lobbyists and donors aren’t triumphs if they weaken public confidence in our democracy; they, too, are abject failures of leadership.” 2 likes
“Our core identity—the most precious legacy we have been given by the generations who came before us—is the ideals we share, the good we hold in common. If we are losing our national identity, it is not because we are becoming browner or speak in more languages than we once did. It is because we are losing our sense of the common good.” 1 likes
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