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The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class Hardcover – June 1, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0470182390 ISBN-10: 0470182393 Edition: 1st

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The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class + The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470182393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470182390
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In his acclaimed 2006 book, The Global Class War, economist Jeff Faux predicted a major financial catastrophe in the next few years. Sometimes, one would rather be wrong.

In The Servant Economy, Faux surveys the wreckage and asks: Where do we go from here? The economy may recover from the financial crash, but the historic and geographic cushions that have kept Americans prosperous are deflated. The United States can no longer support the dreams of Wall Street for boundless speculative wealth, the military-industrial complex for global hegemony, and the middle class for rising living standards. One of these dreams? Certainly. Two? Perhaps. But not all three.

Republicans and Democrats brawl in public, but, in effect, they have already cut a deal: the middle-class dream will be sacrificed. Even with a cyclical economic recovery, the average American will face substantially lower income, less opportunity, and hardening class lines by the mid-2020s. As high-paying service jobs follow industrial jobs offshore and government safety nets are systematically dismantled, more and more Americans will scratch for a living as educated twenty-first-century servants—insecure and stripped of dignity.

Yet both the electorate and the elected are in denial. Americans tell pollsters the country may be in decline, but that they personally will be okay. Politicians perpetuate the myth that Americans' exceptional can-do spirit will save them from the consequences of their leaders' folly. But hope is not a strategy. "Jobs, jobs, jobs," the governing class shouts against the forces of globalization, when it really means: "Lower wages, lower wages, lower wages."

The Servant Economy takes the reader on a historical tour of the rise and fall of the idea that democratic government has a responsibility for shaping the future, shows how Barack Obama is trapped in Ronald Reagan's legacy, and delivers a savage indictment of Wall Street financiers and their Washington toadies who promote an age of austerity for the people and an age of gluttony for themselves. The book paints a brutally honest picture of what austerity will mean for twentysomethings laden with college debt who will become thirty- and fortysomethings still stuck in low-paying jobs, for the elderly who will have to work until they die, for communities where services and safety will deteriorate. It warns of a future in which military power becomes the only instrument for exerting U.S. influence in the world.

The core problem, writes Faux, is not that we don't know what to do, it is that the corruption of our politics by big money smothers any attempt at transformational change. Thus, there is no escape from the grim scenario he describes—unless an aroused citizenry abolishes the system that equates money with free speech and corporations with citizens. Washington insiders scoff that such an effort is "hopeless." Even more hopeless, Faux concludes, is the notion that we can shape a better economic future—unless we do so.

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Global Class War

"You will never think about 'free trade' the same way after reading Jeff Faux's superb book. As Faux makes clear, the globalization debate is really about whose interests are served by global elites, and how we need to go about reclaiming a democracy that serves ordinary people. This book should transform public discourse in America."
Robert Kuttner, founding coeditor of The American Prospect and author of Obama's Challenge

"Faux is clearly correct that the balance of power between labor and capital has shifted dramatically. Today, investment capital moves at blinding speed, while labor still must go by boat, train, and plane—and that's if it's lucky."
Michael Hirsh, New York Times

"A persuasive and revealing framework for understanding globalization in terms of class. It's a much-needed corrective to the way in which most news about the changing world economy is viewed, usually through a free market fundamentalist or, less frequently, a nationalist lens."
David Moberg, In These Times

"Incisive, rancorous . . . with a fluid grasp of both history and economics, Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, critiques both Democrats and Republicans for protecting transnational corporations 'while abandoning the rest of us to an unregulated, and therefore brutal and merciless, global market.'"
Publishers Weekly

"Jeff Faux's astonishing story of how class works will scandalize the best names in Wall Street and Washington—especially the much admired Robert Rubin, who along with other elites colluded behind the backs of ordinary citizens in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The most cynical Americans will be shocked by the sordid details. This really is an important book."
William Greider, author of Come Home, America and Secrets of the Temple


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Customer Reviews

I had to read some parts aloud to follow it, but it was well worth it.
Katheryn Lorimor
Something fundamental has shifted in our politics and that has to do with whose influence is being most effective.
S. Elliott
Unless these elites have a major change of heart, I figure I will have to do the best I can on my own.
ashtray7

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By ashtray7 on July 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I learned of The Servant Economy when someone sent me an emailed flyer on a book series featuring this title. I ordered and found it truly eye-opening and depressing simultaneously. The 30-year flattening of wages in America happens to coincide with my adult working life as I graduated college and entered the workforce in 1981, when Reagan took over the Oval Office. All the time, I knew something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

Now, 31 years later, after going through three bouts of unemployment, a bankruptcy and a near-foreclosure (I gave up my home in a deed-in-lieu arrangement) despite doing all the right things (education, marriage to the same woman, three kids) I now know it wasn't totally my fault. It just seems we have always had at the top of our so-called egalitarian society a business elite that, at its core, is selfish. And so selfish are they that they are now able to buy our government officials. Mr. Faux's account of the torpedoing of a proposed Marshall Plan-style Industrial Policy, which would have created a longstanding manufacturing base in the U.S. to help people remain employed and support the U.S. economy by buying goods made here, was nothing short of mind-blowing.

Unless these elites have a major change of heart, I figure I will have to do the best I can on my own. I hope for a change of heart. I'd hate to see - God forbid - a violent bloody revolution. Thanks, Mr. Faux.
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Tom Sales on July 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jeff Faux's book "The Servant Economy" and his publicity-tour interviews address the increasingly popular but depressing topic of inequality in America. In an interview on NPR, Faux said he was driven to write this book after reading a 1984 book by Barbara Tuchman in which she "described the way in which countries throughout history have come to grief because their leaders refused to act on the evidence that they were pursuing policies that would eventually lead to ruin."

Compared to other such books, his presentation and interviews are more DIRECT, RELENTLESS and BIGGER PICTURE, and his outlook is generally more HOPELESS in suggesting where we can go from here.

DIRECT in his historical commentary of how America got to the point in the 1960-70's when we considered ourselves to be truly exceptional. Not just because of oft-noted advantages like our unique system of government, plentiful natural resources, and resourceful workers and technologies but also because we have been in right place at the right time with tariff-protected industries, distance and oceans protecting our flanks, and essentially the last nation standing after two world wars. Unlike other authors who present economic, demographic, or moralistic themes in analyzing where and why America has become great, Faux lays out a concise historical analysis of how America built a "cushion" that encouraged us to believe that we could have it all.

RELENTLESS in then describing how that cushion began to deflate starting with the Reagan Age leading up to the 2008 crash. Up until the Carter administration and the OPEC oil shock, Faux says, America had been in control of its own destiny.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By S. Elliott on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Keeping up with political trends that impact the economy and our society is getting harder and more counter-intuitive.

If one grew up Baby Boomer generation as I did, so much of what we took for granted or as obvious (including the basic fairness of "the system" for most of the middle class)-- whether in planning our choices of studies in college, our careers, our lives, and even in guiding our children' choices in those areas--is no longer is true and this is deeply alarming.

It is not just the inevitable result of improved technology, greater tolerance of diversity, the fall of communism, and greater "free trade"--as this books so vividly points out. Something fundamental has shifted in our politics and that has to do with whose influence is being most effective. It is no longer the middle class.

Read this excellent book, and then sit down and reconsider how you ought to live the rest of your life, as I intend to do.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Linda Theil on July 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was thrilled to hear Faux elucidate every issue I've been complaining about for thirty years today in his interview with Diane Rheam on NPR today. See [...]
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By LD TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Like other reviewers, I experienced the decades he writes about and saw first hand that these step by step changes were guaranteeing another depression. I too experienced plant closure, declining income, and destruction of the hopes of the Boomers. There is a bubble and a recession every decade. The book will remind you of the details.

President Johnson began running deficits. Then Nixon froze our wages while retail items were resized so there could be price increases. The Rust Belt set in along with the worst recession in 1974. Gas, housing, and auto prices exploded in the late 1970s. I remember the Savings and Loan Crisis when the banks claimed that would never have happened to them (only took 20 years for those same banks to wreck everything). 1980-2000 saw everyone with less income making up for it by using credit and home sales. Then millions of jobs were replaced by automation and foreign workers. Faux does an excellent job of letting you see the progression and he points out how many of the rule changes were based on empty theories.The best chapters were: The Cushion Deflates, The Age of Reagan Americans Abandoned, and Who Knew? They Knew. Had I been writing about my own observations during this period it would have been very similar.

Everyone lives in fear that they will be destitute someday and hopes it will all fall apart after their death. Every promise that a new industry would replace a former one has been temporary at best and now there is nothing on the horizon. Moving money around is not an economy- it is a computer function.

P.87 Junk bond guru Michael Milken wrecked the Savings and Loans. The Fed printed money to save bankrupt corporations. Milken went to prison for 2 years, paid a fine of $600 million, and walked away with a billion dollars.
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