Monday, March 28, 2011

Booknote: Aftershock

Actually, I finished this book about a week ago, but between work and life, I did not get around to writing up a review about it until now. I am sharing what I wrote on my GoodReads page here in the blog because I think this is a book that more people should read. I jotted down some brief passages as well that made me think, which readers can see under the updates if they visit the linked review. As is often the case, what I worry about is that people who should actually be reading this book will probably not read it.

AftershockAftershock by Robert B. Reich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers can tell that Robert Reich is a college teacher; it shows in this book. He is very good at explaining exactly what happened to the economy in this current climate and why it happened. More importantly, he outlines very well what will happen unless this nation and its people decide on some serious, substantial, meaningful changes. And yet, this is a short book, which makes it pretty easy to read. What I found fascinating is that what is happening is not really new for one. We faced a lot of this during the Great Depression. In some ways, the situation is the same, but the names and players have changed, so to speak.

The problem is not one of Americans simply having spent past their means, which they did. This is not to be denied. The real problem is their wages have not kept up with the times, and employers and the wealthy have broken the social contract where we all pay fairly and gain benefit from shared prosperity. When you have billionaires like Warren Buffet actually saying that he should be taxed a lot more, that is a hint of Professor Reich's argument. I found myself making a lot of little notes, which you can see in my reading updates for this book for the book offers some good points and a lot to think about. The potential scenario of an "Independence Party" candidate winning the White House along with Congress should scare the daylights out of people not matter what side of the political spectrum you are in. And yet, we get a very good explanation of how it will happen if things keep going at the same pace as well as how to avoid, which is the option that will take work. Many passages in this book caught my eye, but I think the one I want to share with readers right away is this one:

On page 145: "If nothing is done to counter present trends, the major fault line in American politics will no longer be between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. It will be between the 'establishment'--political insiders, power brokers, the heads of American business, Wall Street, and the mainstream media--and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to 'take back America' from them."

Now, take a guess who is going to "win" if the current crop of greedy, hate-and-fear mongering powers manage to keep on manipulating the angry and willfully ignorant. It does not look good, and maybe that is why I did not give this book five stars. I don't necessarily share Dr. Reich's optimism at the end of the book. However, overall, this is one book worth reading.

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