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Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics Paperback – September 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316706027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316706025
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,959,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Decrying the influence of political and financial elites, veteran pundit Phillips ( The Emerging Republican Majority ) here attempts to channel the dissatisfactions of the general populace, as evinced on radio talk shows, into national reform. "Capitals rot first," he declares, drawing briefly on such historical analogues as Hapsburg Spain and 18th-century Holland to buttress his argument that the current centers of American power, Washington and Wall Street, have sunk into decadence. Echoing recent critiques like Jonathan Rauch's Demo sclerosis , he highlights a bipartisan support for the government status quo. While Phillips wisely focuses on governmental, not social reform, his generalization that conservatives blame cultural weakness while liberals underscore economic decline ignores the influence of more nuanced thinkers like Cornel West. Among Phillips's better suggestions: move away from the two-party system by allowing referenda and considering proportional representation; raise taxes on the "really rich." Some problems, like the mercenary culture of lobbyists, may be less amenable to remedy by policy than by moral suasion, but Phillips sets an agenda for debate. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Phillips's first book, The Emerging Republican Majority (LJ 1015/69), was praised as the political bible of the Nixon era. He became a Republican pariah after The Politics of Rich and Poor (LJ 5/15/90) was hailed by the Democrats in the 1992 presidential campaign. That work was the first in a trilogy on the plight of modern America. The second work, Boiling Point (LJ 3/15/93), documented the frustration of the middle class. Arrogant Capital offers solutions to "the beltway mentality" in Washington, D.C., and the greed of Wall Street. Abandoning hope of political reform through our two-party system, Phillips now favors direct democracy to prevent America's decline. Though some of his populist proposals are extreme, they deserve debate. His historical grasp of patterns among former world powers (e.g., Spain, Holland, Britain) add substance to his fears. Our modern Thomas Paine has written another readable volume that deserves widespread attention.
--William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This has to be one of the best books on contemporary politics. Kevin Phillips did extensive research into the historical pattern of rise and subsequent decline of great powers and found uncanny similarity to where America is today. However, he did suggest 10 solutions that hopefully would arrest the decline of this nation and hoped those would be carried out in the 90s (this book was written in 94). Guess what ? None of his 10 solutions was implemented even to the slightest degree. If anything the problems he mentioned in the book have become even more serious in the past decade.
The decline of this nation is now inevitable. There is no need to shed tears over it, though. It happened to Rome, Greece, Spain, and most recently Britain. To think we can somehow escape was probably wishful thinking to begin with but the failure to take positive action to even to try to slow the decline just makes the ultimate fate that much more certain !
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am a political science major at Oregon State University. I had to read this book for a class and was pleasantly suprised at how well written and interesting this book is. The author gives a loud and clear call to arms for the American people to change our government. The comparisons to other world empires hit very close to the present day US. His proposals for change are interesting and well thought out. I reccomend this book to anyone who is fed up with Washington and the power of interest groups, financial groups, and lobbyists.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark B. Cohen on May 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
The author Kevin Phillips is an exemplary example of a frequent Washington type: the former insider turned angry, prophetic outsider. Trained as an attorney, experienced as a a Republican Congressional aide at the modern lowpoint of Republican strength in Washington, acclaimed as a key strategist in Richard Nixon's 1968 Presidential comeback, the author has long been given to gathering masses of data and reaching bold new conclusions with a stunning certainty that is only partially vindicated by subsequent events.

The author's top six suggested governmental reforms are "(1) dispersing the capital and having Congress meet in another city for part of the year; (2) allowing congressmen and senators to vote from their home states and districts; (3) establishing a mechanism for national referendums; (4)concentrating a major attack on the hired-gun culture in Washington; (5) reining in abusive finance and its political influence by regulating electronic speculation, curtailing the nonaccountability of the Federal Reserve Board and establishing a federal financial transactions tax; and (6) fudning deficit-reduction largely by taxing its obvious beneficiaries."

The author's top ten broad proposals are "(1) Decentralizing or dispersing power away from Washington; (2) Modifying the U.S. Constitution's excessive separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches; (3) Shifting U.S.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By gbramstedt@igc.apc.org on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
As usual, full of information, knowledge, and insight... This is my 3rd Phillips book and would rate 5 stars except for some huge ommissions. While pointing out the drain on our democracy of "entitlements", lawyers & litigation, duplication in govt... he completely omits the financial and social costs of our massive military expenditures. Also, while criticizing home ownership as "sopping up large amounts of capital thus made unavailable for industrial renewal" he misses the huge piles of capital in corporate coffers and private holdings looking for higher and higher rates of return, not in "industrial renewal" but more often in the "spectronics" he illustrates. Still, Phillips does fine work, one of the few conservatives that speaks with a straight tongue.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on July 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Phillips's current book gets closer to identifying what the core problem facing the USA is than he did in his earlier "Boiing Point".The problem has been building ever since President Jimmy Carter embarked on his ill advised decision to deregulate and privatize the financial sector of the economy.This simply let the speculative genie out of the bottle.It will be very difficult to rein him in.Phillips correctly goes to the heart of the matter in his recommendation number 7, presented on pp.201-204. "During the 1980's and early 1990's the Fed emerged as a reliable ally of the banks,the financial markets, and speculative finance at the expense of consumers,farmers,small businesses and homeowners "(p.203;1994).This is the heart of the problem.It directly ties in to Phillip's recommendations 4 and 8,respectively, concerning the curbing of Washington lobbies and globalization.Both of these latter problems can only be fixed if the Fed is truly independent from government,Wall Sreeet,and the big commercial banks.Only then can it carry out its task .

I have deducted 1/2 of a star because Phillips is unaware of the fact that Adam Smith had already discussed this problem in great detail in 1776 in his path breaking The Wealth of Nations.Smith's Requirement number 1 is that all loans must be cut off from speculators.Otherwise,the savings the loans represent will be " ...wasted and destroyed...", instead of being transformed intertemporally into the needed plant and equipment required to reestablish American industrial , manufacturing,and agricultural capacity ,which is what the wealth of nations consists of(Smith,Modern Library(cannan)edition,pp.339-340).The wealth of nations does not consist of " financial services " resulting from massive speculation and securitization undertaken by Wall Street investment banks and their allies within the Federal Reserve System.
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