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The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalis [Kindle Edition]

Robert B. Reich
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

There is no longer such a thing as an American economy, say Robert Reich at the beginning of this brilliant book.  What does it mean to be a nation when money, goods, and services know no borders?  What skills will be the most valuable in the coming century? And how can our country best ensure that all its citizen have a share in the new global economy?  Robert B. Reich, the widely respected and bestselling author of The Next American Frontier and The Resurgent Liberal, defines the real challenge facing the United States in the 21st century in this trail-blazing book.  Original, readable, and vastly informed, The Work of Nations is certain to set a standard for the next generation of policy-makers.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Why is the gap between rich and poor widening, both in the U.S. and globally? Linking income differentials to levels of education, Reich ( The Next American Frontier ) divides the universe of jobs into three categories: routine production, in-person services and symbolic-analytic. Symbolic analysts--those who identify, solve and broker problems--are doing well, while prospects for the other types of workers are declining, Reich maintains. He links their fortunes to a newly emerging, global economic order in which the description, "U.S. corporation," is increasingly a fiction as companies operate transnationally in a decentralized web of goods and services. This immensely stimulating treatise holds that the prosperity of a nation and its people is ever more tenuously linked to corporate profitability. Reich urges Americans to develop skills that contribute to the world economy, to invest in infrastructure, education and training, and to be open to foreign investments in U.S. enterprises. BOMC and QPB alternate s .
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

According to Harvard economist Reich, author of The Resurgent Liberal ( LJ 8/89), we are going through a historic transformation that is rearranging the politics and economics of the 1990s and the 21st century. Economies are no longer simply national in scope but global, rewarding the most skilled around the world with ever greater wealth while consigning the less skilled to declining standards of living. He sees the global work forces as already divided into three groups: routine producers (e.g., data processors), in-person servers (e.g., librarians), and symbolic analysts who manipulate symbols for large profits (e.g., financial wizards). In 1989, these analysts comprised about one-fifth of the population of the United States, but they earned more than half the income. As the rich get richer and the rest get poorer, Reich urges a national recommitment to the productivity and competitiveness of all citizens. This is highly recommended for all academic and public libraries.
- Jeffrey R. Herold, Bucyrus P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 528 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679736158
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (December 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004CFAW7A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,513 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic economic model for the Global Economy December 30, 1999
Many of us outside of the manufacturing sector have not yet seen the changes that the global economy has in store for us.
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.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Investing in people March 25, 2001
Robert Reich is interested in labor. Not surprising. He's a former Secretary of Labor under Clinton's administration. He begins by telling us that corporations have lost their national identity. In other words, almost all American and foreign corporations consist of employees, investors, and machinery that are located all over the world, and so the traditional view that American economic progress being directly related to the profitability of American firms is no longer valid. So what then should be the economic goals of the state?
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liberalism at its best and most accessible September 30, 2005
The author of this book is a respected economist and also a former cabinet secretary in the Clinton administration. Published in the early 1990's, this book provides a short economic history of the US, describes the American economy at his time (the early 1990's) and what lies ahead for America. In it, Reich covers various topics such as: industrialization, outsourcing of labor, gap between incomes, the growth of financial markets in both the number of people involved, the sums of money involved, and the influence they have on world affairs, and the role of America in world economics.

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
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 more
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life-Changer
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 more
Published 17 months ago by Stewart E. White
5.0 out of 5 stars uncommon sense
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 more
Published on November 19, 2008 by John Loehrer
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Globalization the end of America as we know it?
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 more
Published on April 21, 2008 by Herbert L Calhoun
1.0 out of 5 stars Dated and Obvious, with some obvious flaws
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 more
Published on June 16, 2007 by Scott A. Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars To understand the today's world
The future of capitalism and our economies, without pesimism, but realistic document
Published on June 14, 2007 by J. Nadal
4.0 out of 5 stars A read still relevent today...
This book speaks to the reality of the modern economy and where North America is going. A shocking but real wakeup call!
Published on February 10, 2007 by Peter Schneider
4.0 out of 5 stars Globalization 101
Although written way back in 1990-1, this book was prescient enough and insightful enough to still be relevant today. Read more
Published on August 6, 2004 by Robert Carlberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete but Original and Worthy of a Second Look
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links.

One reason I read only books I have bought (so that I may liberally mark them up) and tend to never discard a book, which is becoming a... Read more
Published on January 1, 2004 by Robert David STEELE Vivas
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent readable treaty on economics.
This book almost seem like a revival of Adam Smith "Wealth of Nations" that was published in 1776. Read more
Published on May 31, 2003 by Gaetan Lion
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