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Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life | [Robert B. Reich]

Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life

Since the 1970s, and notwithstanding three recessions, the U.S. economy has soared. American capitalism has been a triumph, and it has spread throughout the world. At the same time, argues the former U.S. secretary of labor, Robert B. Reich, the effectiveness of democracy in America has declined. It has grown less responsive to the citizenry, and people are feeling more and more helpless as a result.
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Publisher's Summary

Since the 1970s, and notwithstanding three recessions, the U.S. economy has soared. Consumers have been treated to a vast array of new products, while the prices of standard goods and services have declined. Companies have also become far more efficient, and the stock market has surged. In short, American capitalism has been a triumph, and it has spread throughout the world.

At the same time, argues the former U.S. secretary of labor, Robert B. Reich, the effectiveness of democracy in America has declined. It has grown less responsive to the citizenry, and people are feeling more and more helpless as a result. In Supercapitalism, Reich discusses how capitalism has spilled over into politics, how it threatens democracy, and how citizens both benefit from and lose out because of supercapitalism.

©2007 Robert B. Reich; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A thought-provoking analysis....A must-read for anyone interested in the health of American democracy." (Laura Tyson, former chairman, National Economic Council)
"Supercapitalism reminds us that the power of political courage grows when it is joined with clear thinking." (Bill Bradley, author of The New American Story)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (137 )
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  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-07-07
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-07-07 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Robert Reich for V.P. (of the U.S.)"

    The book carefully explains the rise of and the impact of hyper-competition on business. This is not new to Reich and is probably dealt with in more detail elsewhere, but Reich’s treatment is very good. He then points out that this change has emasculated some aspects of democracy. Something that Al Gore has also written about. He then says that the solution has to be better policing of the marketplace and more carful construction of the rules of law. Of course, only government can do this.

    Reich has had a string of really good books. This one is very good, but perhaps not quite as good as some of his others.

    It’s important to say what he says. It’s an important response to the free market mantra. And he’s attempting to articulate a middle ground that doesn’t involve reverting to unions and over-regulated industries or the gradual decent into lawlessness. As a political statement he may be just right. But as an intellectual statement, he fails to address the question, “How do we do this”. How do we get the government do a better job of protecting us from fraud and exploitation without gradually reverting to pre-Carter style regulation?

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-07-07
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-07-07 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    339
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    235
    113
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    79
    0
    Overall
    "Robert Reich for V.P. (of the U.S.)"

    The book carefully explains the rise of and the impact of hyper-competition on business. This is not new to Reich and is probably dealt with in more detail elsewhere, but Reich’s treatment is very good. He then points out that this change has emasculated some aspects of democracy. Something that Al Gore has also written about. He then says that the solution has to be better policing of the marketplace and more carful construction of the rules of law. Of course, only government can do this.

    Reich has had a string of really good books. This one is very good, but perhaps not quite as good as some of his others.

    It’s important to say what he says. It’s an important response to the free market mantra. And he’s attempting to articulate a middle ground that doesn’t involve reverting to unions and over-regulated industries or the gradual decent into lawlessness. As a political statement he may be just right. But as an intellectual statement, he fails to address the question, “How do we do this”. How do we get the government do a better job of protecting us from fraud and exploitation without gradually reverting to pre-Carter style regulation?

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson Alexander New York, NY, United States 03-21-08
    Nelson Alexander New York, NY, United States 03-21-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Top of the Reading List"

    Very enlightening. Should be retitled "The Mandatory Voter's Handbook." Reich's disaggregation of our inner "consumer-investor-citizen" marvelously clarifies so many social issues today. His insistence that a corporation is not an individual but a legal construct (contracts with investors) pulls the curtain away from the Wizard of Oz. The whole idea of the corporation as a "person" capable of "good corporate citizenship" masks the logical structure and purpose of companies. That's not what they are for, not what they do. They are merely assuming unto themselves the powers that should rest with our legislators. Read it and send a copy to your representatives. Narration is not stellar, but well paced, sober, and quite adequate.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brook Birmingham, AL, USA 01-23-09
    Brook Birmingham, AL, USA 01-23-09
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    "Good book, Bad audiobook."

    This should have been read by the author, as most audio books should. The reader has a most generic voice, and I find it very hard to pay attention. I've fallen asleep every time we've put it on in the car. The book is good, but the audiobook is virtually unlistenable.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    david hayward, ca, United States 02-25-13
    david hayward, ca, United States 02-25-13
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    Story
    "Superb - Why we can never go back to the economies"
    What made the experience of listening to Supercapitalism the most enjoyable?

    Mind boggling in scope. Super Capitalism is the story of the releasing of the genie from the bottle in global terms. Robert Reich explains it in astoundingly simple terms but the effect is complex and rich in details and under lying social anxiety.


    What other book might you compare Supercapitalism to and why?

    Carl Sagan's Cosmos. It is ground breaking understanding of the state of the art of where we are as mankind develops. An in depth statement as to why we are the way we are and how we are shaping a new social fabric.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    How globalization has effected every society on earth and interlinked everyone and everything. Everyone within the confines of the new Supercapitalism will be integrated and actual war within those confines will be a thing of the past.


    If you could give Supercapitalism a new subtitle, what would it be?

    The New Reality.


    Any additional comments?

    After reading this, one begins to understand the absurdity of the arguments we hear every day in the media. It is like the pundits who argue against the reality of climate change, racial equality, gay marriage, etc. As I like to refer to it as the future laughing at the inane arguments against inevitability.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 09-12-09
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 09-12-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Disturbing"

    Robert Reich is a Democrat, but Americans from all walks of life and perspectives will benefit by reading "Supercapitalism." In approximately the first third of the book Reich tells the story of how our economy and democracy has reached this particular juncture. In a second portion he lifts the curtain on how our competitive environment has changed. For example, he links the Viet Nam war and the dramatic increase in Japanese imports.

    Finally, Reich makes some disturbing points about the decline of democracy and the dangerous role that Supercapitalism plays in its decline. Positively, he makes concrete suggestions about what we can do to regain control of our freedoms and representative form of government which are refreshing and thoughtful.

    Frankly, I had a stereotypical view of Mr. Reich and his views. The caricature presented in the news deceived me. This book is well worth the effort and time the reader might invest. Everyone interested in our democracy, our economy, and our future should read this volume.

    The book is really well written, wonderfully read, and informative. Interested readers might find The Lexis and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman a nice companion volume.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Dallas, TX, USA 06-21-09
    Jason Dallas, TX, USA 06-21-09
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    "Terrible Narrator"

    The book may very well be an insightful piece of economic commentary, but I don't know because I couldn't stand the narrator. My fault for not previewing it, I suppose...

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin cooperstown, NY, USA 08-24-08
    Benjamin cooperstown, NY, USA 08-24-08 Member Since 2007
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    "not all there"

    His analysis of the economy in the broad strokes is well done. The book also has little problem holding the attention of the reader (listener). However the reason I rated it so poorly is in part because I am always offended by "intellectuals" that think we the reader are, for lack of a better word,dumb. First he creates the impression that he has all of this information, but that he is only going to give us the simplified version. So I should believe that if we had all the information I would see his point of view? For example he asserts that the reason for the increase in lobby money is the "extreme competition" of corporations ,that does not follow Occam's razor, the simple explanation would be that Washington has money to deal out in the form of favors, contracts, laws (that would help one company vs. another) etc. This draws the corporations like flies on a corpse. If A corporation fails to participate (i.e. Microsoft) they will pay the penalty.
    The second, is that he espouses Kant's theory (without crediting him). He would have us believe that the corporations giving millions to disaster relief etc. is selfish (disparagingly) not a sacrifice on their part because they did not do it "disinterestedly". So...The Corporation should act against there own interests? Or would the government? Or a citizen etc. If I give money to a charity it is not "disinterested" I either value what they are doing, or I like to feel that I am doing good.
    This book should be read critically, then perhaps discarded.

    5 of 13 people found this review helpful
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