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The Occupy Handbook Paperback – April 17, 2012
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"More than a scrapbook of the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, The Occupy Handbook, a compilation by our best journalists, thinkers and economists, puts the story of America's revolt against inequality in welcome historical perspective. From the barricades of 1848, to the barrios of modern Chile, to the improbable campgrounds thrown together in the shadows of New York skyscrapers, the Handbook examines the budding question of whether democracy can foster a more equal, and also a more prosperous, society. Insightful pieces by Gillian Tett, John Cassidy, Bethany McLean and many more prepare you to think about the next outbreak of outrage and activism-which is only a matter of time."―Roger Lowenstein, author of The End of Wall Street and When Genius Failed
"When future historians ponder why the Great Recession failed to spark a populist revolt like those of the 1890s or 1930s, they'll find a wealth of insights in this remarkable volume."―Sylvia Nasar, author of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius and A Beautiful Mind
"This fascinating collection explains why and how income and wealth inequalities have rightly climbed to the top of the policy agenda in so many countries. With multiple perspectives from both experts and activists, The Occupy Handbook contains valuable insights on the historical context, the formation of the popular movements, their impact, and what the future may hold. I suspect it won't be long before this handbook is viewed as the reference guide for understanding how an unstructured gathering of people in Zuccotti Park ended up providing the catalyst redefining policy imperatives around the world."―Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO and author of When Markets Collide
"A rich set of ideas for reforming the American political and economic system. Will any of these suggestions gain traction with the people who seek and hold political office? That depends entirely on you-the reader. Either we still have a vibrant democracy, capable of making sensible public policy. Or we are going down a long and very dark path."―Simon Johnson, MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author, with James Kwak, of White House Burning and 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown
"For those who have come to believe that economics exists only to legitimize the interests of a wealthy elite, this remarkable collection should be an eye-opener. Here we see what economics does best, which is to pursue a parsimonious and plausible set of hypotheses unblinkingly to their logical conclusion. The answers will often surprise: Did you know, for example, that the best evidence on how we should set income taxes points to tax rates upwards of 60 percent on the rich? Read the essay by Diamond and Saez (a Nobel Prize winner and a winner of the almost equally distinguished John Bates Clark Medal) for why."―Abhijit V. Banerjee, MIT, and co-author, with Esther Duflo, of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
"A succinct body of essays by knowledgeable, sympathetic observers on the grievances of the Occupy Wall Street protestors....An educational, highly useful primer on what's broken and how to fix it."―Kirkus Reviews
"An excellent one-stop shop for analysis of the financial crisis and everything about it."―Felix Salmon, Reuters
About the Author
Janet Byrne is an editor who has worked with Nobel Prize-winning economists, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, and leading political figures, financial journalists, academics, and best-selling authors. She is the author of A Genius for Living: The Life of Frieda Lawrence, a New York Times Notable Book, has served as a researcher for and as a contributor to numerous books, and has written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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One essayist notes that "the history of Wall Street is a series of booms and busts. After each blowup, the firms that survive temporarily shy away from risky ventures and cut back on leverage. Over time, the markets recover their losses, memories fade, spirits revive, and the action starts up again, until, eventually, it goes too far. The mere fact that Wall Street poses less of an immediate threat to the rest of us doesn't mean it has permanently mended its ways." (Pg. 71-72)
Another observes that "At the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the critique that wealth and opportunity are not equitably distributed, and our media system, largely controlled by corporations, contributes to the status quo." (Pg. 263) Another suggests that "Occupation is primarily a cultural movement, one that transcends politics; or that is how it wishes to be seen... Occupation seeks to address our spiritual yearnings, our domestic ideals, our economic needs." (Pg. 272)
One person interviewed stated that Occupy Wall Street "starts from a disillusion about government action, (but) comes with the constructive feeling that there must be a way the government can make things better." (Pg. 312)
This fascinating and very helpful collection will certainly expand one's view of the Occupy movement, and will be of considerable interest to all persons interested in progressive politics.
I really enjoyed and learned from about a third of the essays contained in this eclectic collection. Another third, however, were boring repetition and less than first rate writing from first rate writers.
Like many observers, I have been somewhat perplexed by Occupy's failure to present an agenda, a list of goals, or a program. David Graeber and Chris Hedges, however, do a very good job of explaining the positive side of anarchy and messy participatory democracy.
It's a worthy read, but you will find yourself skimming a lot of the selections.
Since each chapter is written by a different expert, you can put it down, and pick it up again in the future. For those of us with limited reading time, we don't lose anything by not reading it straight through.