Review: Aftershock

Robert Reich is a former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and general supporter of worker’s rights.  His Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future lays out his point of view on the current situation and where he thinks we should go. I do not buy everything he says, but there are some thought provoking ideas in here.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is his take on the growing economic inequity in America.  Most of the people who rail against this argue from some moral position about how large disparities in wealth are wrong because of their unfairness.  Reich’s position is more interesting: to a first approximation he argues that if you want to have a stable economy based on the sale of consumer goods, you need to make sure your citizens can earn enough to buy those goods.  It’s a nice perspective because it lets you have the discussion with people who have different ideas of the righteousness of economic disparity.

There are other interesting ideas in here, too, as well as some very radical ideas for restructuring the economy and government to provide job and wage security for middle class workers in America.  I’ll be very surprised if many of these ideas appear in the near future, but it’s worth having someone putting concepts like these out there, if only to remind people that they exist.  A reverse income tax may never happen, but it’s an idea worth understanding and considering.

Almost everyone will find something to disagree with in here, but that will require thinking about it.  That’s worthwhile.


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