Libby's Reviews > Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future

Aftershock by Robert B. Reich
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Dec 04, 2011

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Read on December 04, 2011

p. 53 "Remember bank tellers? Telephone operators? The fleets of airline workers behind counters who issued tickets? Service station attendants? These and millions of other jobs weren't lost to globalization; they were lost to automation. America has lost at least as many jobs to automated technology as it has to trade... But contrary to popular mythology, trade and technology have not really reduced the number of jobs available to Americans. Take a look at the rate of unemployment over the last thirty years and you'll see it has risen and fallen with the business cycle... The real problem was that the new ones they got often didn't pay as well as the ones they lost. That largely explains why the median wage flattened between 1980 and 2007, adjusted for inflation. Over the longer term, the problem is pay, not jobs."

p. 109 "In return, the politician may or may not get a campaign contribution from the wealthy executive. But as far as the politician is concerned, that donation is not the point of the transaction. Through the executive, the politician gains access to a network of wealthy people: the executive's friends, business partners, and colleagues, and members of his club or board. When the occasion arises, the wealthy executive introduces them to the politician. Then come their own invitations to breakfast, coffee, dinner, golf. In time, the new acquaintances will give money, and also ask that others do so.
"No policy has been altered, no bill or vote willfully changed. But inevitably, as the politician enters into these endless social rounds among the networks of the wealthy, his view of the world is affected. Increasingly the politician hears the same kinds of suggestions, the same concerns and priorities. The wealthy do not speak in one voice, to be sure, but they share a broad common perspective. The politician hears only indirectly and abstractly from the less comfortable members of society... They do not speak continuously into the politician's ear about their concerns. The politician learns of those concerns from his pollsters, and from occasional political appearances back in his home district, but he is not immersed in them as he is in the culture of the comfortable. In this way, access to the network of the wealthy does not necessarily buy a politician's vote. It buys his mind."
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