- Paperback: 331 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (February 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679736158
- ISBN-13: 978-0679736158
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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
This stimulating treatise urges Americans to prepare for a newly emerging global economic order.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Original and important... Robert B. Reich offers a fresh analysis of America's present economic and social prospects."- The New York Times
"The World of Nations will be—and should be—widely read and debated."- Wall Street Journal
"Robert Reich is one of the country's most innovative and interesting political economists.... Very few readers will walk away [from this book] without learning to think about the world in a new and clearer way."- Los Angeles Times
"A rarity...a work of economic theory that a layman can read with pleasure and intellectual profit."- The New Yorker
"Reich covers a remarkable range of material with facility and intelligence."- Washington Post Book World
Top customer reviews
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Throughout, his text is very concise and direct, without an extraneous word.
He loses a star only for the last chapter, which is a utopian and not-very-convincing prescription for a way out of the morass. He no doubt felt a responsibility to provide some sort of solution after 300 pages of problems -- but his days with the Clinton administration immediately following the publication of this book may have disabused him of such easy answers.
According to the author, when the dust settles from the U.S. economy being "globalized," the only job left for America as a surviving nation, will be to train its immobile work force so that it can better position itself to respond to the global economy on its own, that is, left to its own devices. That sounds like its time for everyone to run before the lights are turned out on the old US of A?
The book raises some fundamental and far-reaching questions that we as a nation have never had to face before, such as: without a national economy, will we still be considered a society? A nation? With our economy dispersed and integrated into the global economy, will there be a need for a national defense, or will the military simply become privatized mercenary armies raised to protect corporate interests wherever they may be? What happens to American society, and to those lost in the global economic competition? What about the implicit moral contract between corporations and the citizens of the state in which they reside?
The author's answers are not reassuring as he suggests that this will depend on "whether there is still enough concern about retaining the notion of an American society to elicit sacrifices from the most advantaged to help the rest regain ground it has lost in the competition for a foothold in the global economy."
.One of the problems inherent in this "new world without economic borders," is that without being able to rely on the loyalty of American patriotism, corporate incentives will be to train workers only in places dictated by the global economy. And this will undoubtedly mean doing so in places where labor and training provide the greatest return on the dollar, in other words where they are both cheapest.
For a whole host of reasons, an argument can be made that America is unlikely to be such a place: its infrastructure is already crumbling, it is beset with social problems that make return on both the education dollar and the labor dollar unattractive and un-competitive.
Reich builds a convincing case that the global economy is indeed already a fait accompli, but he is totally unconvincing when he intimates that the U.S. can survive intact, through retraining, dividing skills into routine producers, in-person servers, and symbolic analysts, etc. (Whenever I hear the word "retraining," I know I am being sold a wooden nickel.)
What is left unsaid in the subtext is that anyone with an ounce of brains had better get himself a Beijing address and letterhead.
A very strong read. Five Stars.