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The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism Paperback – February 4, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
- Jeffrey R. Herold, Bucyrus P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In his economic model, Reich points out the "vestigial thought" of the American corporation -- which today consider themselves "global" with no ties to its home country. His point is that America as a nation should welcome foreign investment if it will provide jobs to Americans. The global economy, as he models, is comprised on global webs, with knowledge workers with ideas in the center, surrounded by support services that add global economic value and bring concepts and products to fruition.
He also segments labor in the global economy into three catagories. Symbolic Analysts (or knowledge workers) who have the greatest chances for success, in-person services which are not readily suceptable to downward wage pressures, and routine producers which have already seen jobs shipped overseas to totalitarian areas with low wages.
More important than his global economic model is the subtlties that lie deep within the text. At first glance these may be missed, but a careful study reaveals several important caveats.
First that the global economy will likely mean less social mobility to the majority, with an ever increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth: Hence, the end of the middle class. This means that in a global economy, there may not be enough jobs paying living wages to support our already declining standards of living.
Second, Reich points out the improbability of of everyone becoming sybolic analysts -- which is evidence on the growing population of people today who can not even perform basic skills. He refers to a study by William Julias Wilson, writen in "When Work Dissapears.Read more ›
Three types of workers exist in Reich's thinking: routine producers, in-person servers, and symbolic analysts. Reich shows evidence that the symbolic analysts, who "solve, identify, and broker problems by manipulating symbols," are the winners in this age. The workers who are educated and can use their knowledge to supply a service will get the highest incomes. Those who have no knowledge to sell, who are engaged in routine jobs in factories or in-person servers such as waiters and cashiers will be left behind them.
So Reich proposes that education is of great importance, and devotes two chapters to "The Education of the Symbolic Analyst." It doesn't matter whether or not American firms, if definable, prosper. It is in the long term interests of the American people for the people to learn and be able to use that knowledge. If foreign firms come and employ Americans, good. The workers will still be Americans, and they will learn stuff in the process.
But not all Americans can be symbolic analysts, and perhaps not all symbolic analysts can be well off. Reich's main concern seems to be income inequality and the social attitudes of the symbolic analysts.Read more ›
He points out trends both harmful and beneficial to America, and prescribes changes that could help America, and the world. These include the traditional liberal stands of investing in education, securing healthcare and other social nets for the poor, protecting the environment, empowering workers, especially those at the bottom of the economic food chain, with greater power in their economic success,
The book is clearly written. Reich is clearly a Democrat, but the book is not partisan in its treatment, and he emphasizes the importance of government budgets and tax rates in economic policy. There were several items he should have placed more focus on; privatization of utilities, the growth of intellectual property and its effects on technological growth and individual rights, the spread of credit, and the parallel rise in bankruptcies. In all the book tends to look at the bright side, and offers many good points for political leaders current and future to consider.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've barely started the book but was struck early on by the basic question of how democratic approaches to governing evolved and gained support, in our country, in England, and in... Read morePublished on November 19, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Yes. This is one of those few books that has the power to expand your awareness of how the pieces of society fit together to the point of discomfort. Read morePublished on September 22, 2013 by Stewart E. White
Reich uses simple words to turn common sense views of the world upside down. This book is even more relevant today than when it was written. Read morePublished on November 19, 2008 by John Loehrer
This book presaged the meaning and effects of the global economy. It warned us as early as 1991, during Bill Clinton's first term as President, that every aspect of what we once... Read morePublished on April 21, 2008 by Herbert L Calhoun
This 1992 book by Robert B. Reich, a political economist at Harvard and a reputable policy wonk, purports to be about economies and globalization but is in fact about new business... Read morePublished on June 16, 2007 by Scott A. Jones
The future of capitalism and our economies, without pesimism, but realistic documentPublished on June 14, 2007 by J. Nadal