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What Went Wrong: How the 1% Hijacked the American Middle Class . . . and What Other Countries Got Right Hardcover – July 16, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Tyler explodes numerous myths... Controversial but well-grounded in data and fact. Anyone with an interest in economic policy ought to have a look."
Kirkus Reviews

“[Tyler] provokes outrage with his impassioned portrait of an America where job security is a relic of the past.”
Publishers Weekly

"Tyler’s timely and convincing book confirms what Americans feel in their bones: the economy is rigged against them and something is definitely wrong."
Library Journal

“Several books have examined the effects of the recent recession, but few have dug as deeply into the root causes of [our] country’s current economic malaise as George R. Tyler’s What Went Wrong... Though his conclusions are undoubtedly controversial, Tyler grounds his arguments in data and facts, providing a deep exploration of our current economic situation and the pre-Reagan policies that, if implemented again, may lead us out.”
Shelf Awareness

About the Author

George R. Tyler has a diverse background,drawing on his broad experiences at the highest levels of government, at the World Bank, in the private sector, and in the international nonprofit sector for What Went Wrong. Trained as an economist, Tyler served on the staffs of senators Hubert H. Humphrey and Lloyd Bentsen early in his career and was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 as a deputy assistant treasury secretary. He subsequently served as counselor at the World Bank which marked the beginning of his international career.

Tyler has expansive private sector experience as founder and CEO of a real estate investment and development firm, creating a number of resort residential and residential subdivisions in Virginia, a role he continues to play. He gained international experience from heavy involvement in the global nonprofit sector, where his important familiarity with the European corporate culture occurred. In 1999, Tyler was co-author of the concept paper adopted by Paris-based Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to develop a medical research capability for diseases of the developing world neglected by the global pharmaceutical industry. The not-for-profit entity is called the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. As a founding consultant to MSF, Tyler was a member of the Working Group. He subsequently served on the DNDI Audit Committee overseeing budget and other issues.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books (July 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937856712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937856717
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bob Welsh on August 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For the past several decades Americans have watched in despair as their incomes stagnated, their benefits dwindled, and their job security disappeared. Income inequality in America soared. We worked harder and harder -- longer days, longer weeks, less time off. Two incomes were needed to support our families. We could no longer depend on a secure retirement. Healthcare became unaffordable. Good jobs disappeared, and low skill, low wage jobs took their place. Upward mobility declined. College became unaffordable. The American Dream faded for our kids.

All during this time we were told a story -- this is how the world works. Americans must learn to live with this new reality. The economics profession, especially the conservatives who adored Milton Friedman, shook their heads when middle class Americans complained. Big business and conservative politicians joined the chorus. They said that Americans just did not understand basic economics. This change was inevitable.

When workers sought job security, employers and politicians told them that they needed to have more flexible workplaces. When employees asked why their jobs were being contracted out, or moved overseas, they were told that corporations needed to respond to global competition.

When employees asked for more income, they were told that they would price themselves out of a job.

When voters said they wanted to keep the social safety net, they were told that America could not afford it any more.

George Tyler saw all of this change from a special perspective, as a top policy advisor in the US Senate and at the Treasury Department.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Moore on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"What Went Wrong" is an exceptional retracing of the roughly 30-year period during which the American electorate willingly ceded control over so many aspects of economic and political rule.

The results of this "Stockholm Syndrome" behavior are by now fairly well-known--but just in case you haven't been paying attention, the cover tells the story: total employee compensation in the U.S. has grown by less than 1% since 1985--compared to more than 150% in France, Germany, and other European countries, and about 65% in Australia.

As a deep review of the period, the book IS long, but is extremely well-organized and footnoted. The careful organization makes it easy to skim through the detail if you want, while retaining the central narrative. This is a superb "plus," since it brings together the essential points of many other writers of recent years, and could be considered a rich summary of the failed assumptions, false ideology, and self-serving actions of politicians, "regulators" and well-positioned financiers. It's both an engrossing tale in itself, but also a great compendium of other critics and critiques--including MANY non-U.S. sources that Americans are unlikely to have seen.

Tyler, an economist with long experience in the policy arena himself, has the resume to speak knowledgeably about these topics. He rests his entire analysis on a comparison between "shareholder" and "stakeholder" capitalism--and makes the case that while American policies have privileged laissez-faire capitalism to the detriment of the middle class, many European countries and Australia/New Zealand have never lost sight of the need to maintain a financially sound and engaged populace.

Overall: Tyler is a very good writer, and this is an entertaining read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Klumpner on August 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book carefully explains how the US turned itself into a low-wage economy through misguided economic policies. The book's great strength is its wealth of specific examples, both company case histories that illustrate the effects of misguided policies and the policies that other countries successfully pursued to avoid this fate. Far too many books critiquing recent US economic policy put forth only vague or very general recommendations. However, George Tyler lays out specific recommendations for "family capitalism" that would lead to vastly better outcomes for the 99 percent.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By HillPratt on August 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Every few years I read a book that won't leave me alone, even long after I finish it. This economic and political tour de force is one of them. Not only did it shake my belief in what I thought I knew about economics (learned through a top-school MBA program and a career in management and consulting), but it reminded me of the whole point of business from a societal perspective--to deliver beneficial outcomes for people. George Tyler uses a comprehensive fact base to show that the US is failing in virtually every way that counts--and that a subset of rich and powerful looters have prevailed in getting the country to pursue an economic agenda that favors their interests at the expense of absolutely everyone else.

Everyone needs to read this book--and act on its implications!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scifi Jeff on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very current book, July 2013, that I found very good insights from into the causes and effects of the 1%, and law changes that have caused an imbalance in our society that highly favors the wealthy, to the detriment of the poor and middle class. The author is center to center left, and labels the cause as Reaganomics. That is an unfortunate term, as Reagan passed policies that kicked off some of the effects, but is not responsible for the whole situation. The term seems almost obsolescent, and the repeated use of the term is distracting. Other than that, the arguments are compelling. In this day and age of a sharply divided left and right, the right will likely dismiss it entirely, which would be as unfortunate as uninforming. It leaves one with the perception of what the situation is, and what it will take to regain balance, over decades...
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