Read Third Wave Capitalism: How Money, Power, and the Pursuit of Self-Interest Have Imperiled the American Dream by John Ehrenreich Online


In Third Wave Capitalism, John Ehrenreich documents the emergence of a new stage in the history of American capitalism. Just as the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century gave way to corporate capitalism in the twentieth, recent decades have witnessed corporate capitalism evolving into a new phase, which Ehrenreich calls "Third Wave Capitalism."Third Wave CapitaliIn Third Wave Capitalism, John Ehrenreich documents the emergence of a new stage in the history of American capitalism. Just as the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century gave way to corporate capitalism in the twentieth, recent decades have witnessed corporate capitalism evolving into a new phase, which Ehrenreich calls "Third Wave Capitalism."Third Wave Capitalism is marked by apparent contradictions: Rapid growth in productivity and lagging wages; fabulous wealth for the 1 percent and the persistence of high levels of poverty; increases in the standard of living and increases in mental illness, personal misery, and political rage; the apotheosis of the individual and the deterioration of democracy; increases in life expectancy and out-of-control medical costs; an African American president and the incarceration of a large percentage of the black population.Ehrenreich asserts that these phenomena are evidence that a virulent, individualist, winner-take-all ideology and a virtual fusion of government and business have subverted the American dream. Greed and economic inequality reinforce the sense that each of us is "on our own." The result is widespread lack of faith in collective responses to our common problems. The collapse of any organized opposition to business demands makes political solutions ever more difficult to imagine. Ehrenreich traces the impact of these changes on American health care, school reform, income distribution, racial inequities, and personal emotional distress. Not simply a lament, Ehrenreich's book seeks clues for breaking out of our current stalemate and proposes a strategy to create a new narrative in which change becomes possible....

Title : Third Wave Capitalism: How Money, Power, and the Pursuit of Self-Interest Have Imperiled the American Dream
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ISBN : 9781501702310
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Third Wave Capitalism: How Money, Power, and the Pursuit of Self-Interest Have Imperiled the American Dream Reviews

  • Clare O'Beara
    2019-02-25 20:22

    The author tells us that he is confining his book to America without regard for the other global affairs which have impacted on its economy and society; hard to do but many Americans don't know much about the rest of the world anyway. I don't advise this as a course but it tends to simplify the views, to heighten the contrasts. He only mentions wars and climate change glancingly. I don't know if he is related to Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote Nickel And Dimed, but he's certainly pursuing the same topic. Ehrenreich tells us that up to 1970s all Americans were able to benefit from the growing economy and societal changes. But productivity and income became uncoupled, and the gap between rich and poor widened, the middle class was squeezed down, and social care reversed rather than improved. In a land of self-made millionaires jobs dwindled and healthcare became the worst and least affordable or accessible in the developed world; a black man was elected president while black men are six times more likely than others to be in jail. Personal freedoms have expanded greatly, education levels raised and race discrimination outlawed, but the proportion of the poor who are in deep poverty is steadily rising, from 30% in 1975 to 44% today. The author believes that the patterns he sees developing have evolved over five decades and are consolidating rather than dispersing. They are linked to distinct ideologies and he calls this Third Wave Capitalism. First came Industrial Capitalism, then Corporate Capitalism, with a description of each period. I think a snappier present title might be Globalisation Capitalism, but he just wants to focus on America while agreeing that is it marked off by the rise in global trade. The triumph of corporate ideology; public - private intimacy; accumulation of wealth.We are told about the upsurge in corporate business, driving small firms out of business, becoming cosy with political representation and putting profits first, moving into every corner of the globe and of society. Ford had realised that if he paid his workers well enough they could afford to buy his products, but with manufacturing jobs moving abroad wages dropped. Ehrenreich points up a growth in non-profit businesses, now employing ten percent of the workforce, but states that they are not taxed, as opposed to not profitable. This includes schools, hospitals, and the US Chamber of Commerce which spent over a billion dollars a year lobbying for business interests. (In Ireland and UK we call that corruption and tightly regulate or make it illegal.)A study in 2007 found that directors of nonprofits had insider business dealings in over half of large nonprofits, including universities (which is called corruption over here, as is business funding university buildings or courses); while fraud and embezzlement accounts for 40 million dollars a year just from charities. These groups sometimes pay their officers very well, 44 million dollars a year to the National Football League's commissioner until it was forced to relinquish its tax-exempt status in 2015. This kind of business is operating outside the financial system which pays for social care, transport and housing from taxes, though Ehrenreich doesn't mention that its executives would pay normal income tax. He tells us that economic distinctions between public, private and non-profit enterprise have now become blurred and it is very hard to make money in major fields without some government involvement. Cities have grown as less labour is needed on the land through better machinery. High tech has created vast fortunes, but so did coal, oil and cotton. A massive social change, the contraceptive pill, is mentioned. I haven't seen before that it was created in Mexico in an attempt to create a fertility drug, and gaining the pill's acceptance was privately funded by women's suffrage activist and International Harvester heiress Katharine McCormick. The author tends to use some shorthand which non-Americans are left to guess at, such as K-12 schools. (I think this might mean from kindergarten through twelve school years, but that's just my guess.) He explains the rise and decline of unions, the deliberate moving of industry to non-union states or countries. Then he mentions government bailouts of banks and businesses while hinting at the nebulous nature of financial deals such as derivatives which are hard to understand. (Folks, derivatives means gambling. Gambling on whether the price of a stock will go up or down, without having to invest in the stock. That's all it is and I'd make it illegal or impose a gambling tax. It sucks money out of actual investments.) Ehrenreich warns that progressively America has created a military industrial complex, meaning a tight intertwining and profitability (this would explain the gun lobby forcing the government not to ban assault rifle sales to people on the FBI's no-fly list); followed by a medical industrial complex, an educational industrial, a prison industrial and a banking industrial complex. The social safety net ironically allows companies to pay lower wages because their staff can fall back on the state subsidy to make up the gap. The American minimum wage was never raised so over time was worth less. Industry lobbyists write tax regulations to benefit the better off. (But nobody forces elected representatives to pass these laws, is my comment. Stop the corruption. As this is presented, America seems to be no less corrupt than Nigeria.)The accumulation of wealth by what Ehrenreich calls rent-seeking means that some people contrive to take a slice out of any wealth that is going, rather than produce wealth themselves. Ownership of land or the means of production gives the owner the advantage over workers. The road to riches he says lies in gaining control over government policies; such as how much funds people can retain when they apply for social care, how quickly and easily one can go bankrupt and be discharged, how businesses are regulated, how wealth is transferred between banks. Predatory lending and credit card fees to customers and merchants are the prime examples. Both rent and big monopolies strip wealth from the small and poor and pass it to the big and rich. That's just the first couple of chapters. We move on to health, where we're told that the Bush administration, threatened by the sugar industry which the government subsidises, threatened the World Health Organisation to get it to tone down its message of eating less sugar and more fruits and vegetables. Unhealthy foods are subsidised while healthy ones are not. We're told that the doctors' professional body, the AMA, having a stranglehold by the fact that medical schools had been reduced in numbers, has consistently striven against healthcare reform. In particular Ehrenreich says it has blocked national health insurance since 1916. Only in 2009 - 10 when its membership was down to 15% of doctors did it come around to support some reforms. (The European Union is lobbied but just tends to enact laws anyway, such as removing restrictions on how many pharmacists can operate in a given area.) Drug companies do not seek to develop drugs unless for huge profits. A drug which people will take for the rest of their lives, like asthma inhalers or statins, is a good drug for them but a drug that cures asthma is not. (Take glucosamine and chondroitin food supplement and you likely will not need arthritis treatment, in my personal experience.) Education gets a chapter, in which more Americans spend more years at school than ever before. Then race, poverty and class. We are warned that the middle-earning jobs and small firms that enabled past generations to lift themselves out of poverty no longer exist. The author tells us he chose to spend his entire academic career at a public college open to all. But school budgets depend on community resources, and black people are more likely to live in poorer neighbourhoods. He says that tobacco companies target black people and banks target them for predatory lending such as sub-prime mortgages. Crime and incarceration rates rose since the 1970s disproportionately in minority race communities. (Having recently read Freakonomics I was interested in which legal change was not mentioned.)The crisis among liberal and creative professions follows. We see how mergers and takeovers swallowed up publishing houses and the internet reduced their market. (Actually, independent publishing is a boon to writers and readers compared to restrictive, greedy, tedious, minority-ignoring monopoly publishing.) Work in writing, transcribing, programming could all be done cheaper abroad. A degree no longer guarantees anything. Anxiety and rage follows. Depression, mental illness or disorder, social stress, unhappiness, life stagnation. Polarised politics. If you think you can handle the depressing, oppressive tone of the contents, which are not the fault of the writer but produced by his sadly convincing researches, this book will be enlightening and fascinating. How does American society and economics really work? Why is it getting less good to live in America each year? Why are the rich getting untouchably richer and the poor unsustainably poorer? Does this ring a bell with the part of the world where you live? If you are familiar with quality journalism of the past few years, a lot of the work will seem familiar in tone and some content. If you are not, and this work is a new concept to you, I suggest reading Third Wave Capitalism a little at a time, asking if it seems to be true, letting it sink in before taking up the next few pages. While Ehrenreich doesn't have easy answers, he does remind us that we have to support grassroots movements if we want to change anything. Reading this kind of enlightening book is an excellent start, although it could have the effect of making the effort seem hopeless. Then I recommend finding a petition website and an environmental website. Change happens. There is no disinfectant as good as sunlight.I downloaded a copy from Net Galley for an unbiased review. Further reading I recommend to get a broader world view on this topic: People's Republic of ChemicalsGreen CapitalSalt Sugar FatThe Disaster ProfiteersDisaster CapitalismThe Price Of ThirstWhy It's Kicking Off EverywhereToms RiverWhat Has Nature Ever Done For Us?

  • Melinda
    2019-02-20 00:12

    Fascinating book. It wasn’t something I could read all in one sitting so it’s taken me some time to get through it but boy were there some interesting (and sobering) ideas in these pages. I actually re-read certain chapters a few times, just to let the information settle into my brain. Not sure what to do with a lot of these ideas, but the author proposes/explains a lot of stuff that probably should be taken more seriously. This book is part info, part scary, part unbelievable. Worth the investment of time. Guaranteed to cause discussion!!

  • Teresa
    2019-03-05 16:23

    A well put together book of the many complicated issues making the poor poorer in the US. Ehrenreich writes accessibly and concisely explaining the ways economic and social issues intertwine. The US centric analysis allowed for in depth data analysis but does definitely disregard all the "foreign" reasons the American Dream is so threatened (i.e. immigrant experiences don't really factor into this analysis). Nevertheless, a depressingly true story of the US.

  • Denis Mcgrath
    2019-02-21 20:24

    Professor Ehrenreich patiently develops and documents his narrative as he describes the current demise of the capitalistic system, as we know it, as it morphs into an aggressive tapeworm feeding the self-interest of the power and money elite. Left behind are the poor who are poorer, the disenfranchised middle class and the politically indifferent. He challenges both the liberal and right wing narratives and provides some vision to those who say it is too complex. This is a must read for anyone sensitive to our political destiny particularly those who look to the tax dollar to sustain the public weal.I was provided with an electronic copy in return for an honest review.