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The People's Business: Controlling Corporations and Restoring Democracy Hardcover – November 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A book that deserves, even demands, the attention of every American regardless of their political views or values." -- Robert W. McChesney, author of The Problem of the Media

"The authors performed an enormous service by providing an encyclopedia of corporate reform literature and proposals over the last decade." -- Larry Mitchell, author of Corporate Irresponsibility

"This book offers the vision and the practical tools to liberate ourselves from our tragic state of corporate occupation." -- Charles Derber, author of Corporation Nation and Regime Change Begins At Home

"When we Americans mobilize to take back our democracy… this book will be our road map!" -- Frances Fox Piven, Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration, City University of New York Graduate Center

About the Author

Lee Drutman is the former Communications Director at Citizen Works (www.citizenworks.org), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded by Ralph Nader to advance justice by strengthening citizen participation in power. Charlie Cray is a policy analyst and the director of the Center for Corporate Policy in Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; First Edition edition (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576753093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576753095
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,341,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By cvairag VINE VOICE on October 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Two Biggest Problems Facing America: Out-of-Control Corporatism & Blind Militarism

This book performs the crucial service of organizing and structuring our thoughts about the seemingly remote possibility of popular containment of the pervasive and widespread corporate abuse, which has devastated our lives and now poses a very real threat to the continuation of human life as a whole. How do we pressure Congress (predominantly bought and signed for by the corps) to even begin to introduce the topic of corporate reform in legislative discussion? This challenge, the argument here, well grounded in fact, takes up.
The authors list seven basic strategies:
1. Crack Down on Corporate Crime
A permanent, well-funded and staffed corporate crime division should be established within the Justice Department. Budgets for Justice Dept agencies responsible for pursuing corporate criminals such as the SEC should be beefed up. An annual corporate crime report equivalent to the one the FBI produces on street crime should be generated. Federal acquisition regulations should be tightened so lawbreaking corporations do not receive any fraction of the $265 billion worth of government contracts given out each year.
2. Rein in the Imperial CEO's
Warren Buffett once suggested that willingness to curb excessive CEO pay is "the acid test of corporate reform." Yet the ratio of average large company CEO pay ($11.8 million) to average worker pay ($27,460) spiked from 301 to 1 in 2003 to 403 to 1 in 2004. While Wal-Mart paid CEO Lee Scott 871 times what it paid the average "associate," the ratio between executive and worker pay in Europe hovers closer to 25 to 1. In 1982 the ratio at US corporations was about 42 to1; by 2000 it had spiraled to about 525 to 1.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By William Walsh on December 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
To one extent or another, regardless of your politics, everyone shares the dread sense that too many large corporations are out of control these days - stifling competition, buying up our politicians, and driving down the quality of life for their employees, consumers and the communities in which they are based. In this book Drutman and Cray do a fine job of exploring contemporary indicators of corporate excess. Then they go an extra lap and explain how the history of the corporation in America holds the key to understanding what can be done now. The book reminds me of some of William Greider's work, such as Who Will Tell The People. More than the usual polemic against big business, The People's Business makes clear that with the tools available to us in this democracy, we can restore the corporation to its proper place in service to our society. This idea is as old as the founding fathers, and as fresh as pages of this great new book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Hind on December 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the truth about the unseemly influence corporations have over our everyday lives. But it also provides a road map to reclaim that power. It reminds us that there is such a thing as a social contract and corporations are grossly out of compliance with that contract.

It's empowering to read an analysis that provides a well documented critique but also offers vision and hope. Whether you're just buying a car or paying your utility bills you need to read this book. It suggests hope for democracy and not the hypocritical George Bush brand but an economic democracy where people can regain control over the largest part of their lives, their economic lives.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Gary B. Brumback on August 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a shorter version of my review published in the journal, Personnel Psychology.

I have read a number of recent, very good books about the corporate threat to our democracy. Their common theme, like that of the book by Drutman and Cray, is that large, publicly traded corporations, the "corpocracy," have preempted our sovereignty and control and exploit for selfish interests and often very detrimentally so every aspect of our lives. What more then, you might ask, could be learned from the present book? What sets it apart from the rest I think is first the broader array of reforms it proposes and second that it draws upon the collective wisdom of over 40 scholars and prominent activists commissioned by Citizen Works. It is the non-profit, non-partisan organization founded by Ralph Nader to develop and promote corporate reform proposals. Mr. Nader himself served on the commission.

The two authors also served on the commission. While they state that its other members bear no responsibility for the book's specific conclusions, all members endorsed the book, and it is referred to by Mr. Nader and the authors as the commission's report. I think it was a wise decision not to issue a report per se but instead to have a more readable, more comprehensive, and possibly a more influential book written.

The intent of the book is to provide an understanding of corporate power and a guide for activists to follow in pursuing the reforms proposed in the book. It is full of so many proposals that it would have been helpful if they had been listed in a table preferably at the book's beginning and in a descending order of priority or feasibility.
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