The bestselling author presents his case that severe income inequality is the leading factor eroding American democracy.
After serving as the secretary of labor for Bill Clinton, Reich became a professor, frequent commentator on our ailing political system, and author of such bestsellers as Locked in the Cabinet, The Common Good, and Supercapitalism. In his latest, he urges all Americans outside the wealthiest 1% to stop thinking in terms of left vs. right or Democrat vs. Republican. Instead, writes the author, the crucial battle is Oligarchy vs. Democracy. The oligarchs, no matter what they say publicly about promoting democracy within a vigorous capitalistic economy, care almost exclusively about expanding their wealth. The accumulation of such wealth, writes Reich, has destroyed the middle class and offers nothing but misery to minimum wage workers. Throughout the narrative, the author relies heavily on the career of Jamie Dimon to illustrate his theories. Dimon, the CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, presents himself as an enlightened supporter of the Democratic Party as well as a philanthropist actively seeking to reduce income inequality. Digging deeper, Reich argues that Dimon, while perhaps sincere in his own mind, is just another enabler of oligarchy. That enabling occurs not only via his too-big-to-fail bank, but also through Dimon’s leadership of the Business Roundtable, a lobbying organization consisting of the most powerful chief executives in the U.S. By opposing government regulation of industry and pushing for corporate tax cuts, Dimon and his fellow BR board members demonstrate their disdain for any legislation that might increase income equality among all socio-economic levels. As the author incisively shows, while opposing a safety net for the needy, corporate leaders regularly accept socialism for the extremely wealthy through government bailouts, an unfair tax code, and other measures. In various passages, Reich explains how the oligarchs have helped create and then bolster Donald Trump and his supporters.
Much-needed, readably concise political and economic analysis.
Pub Date: March 24, 2020
Page Count: 224
Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020