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Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Facinating Analysis of Economics, Politics and Society

    Robert Reich's book "Supercapitalism" was a facinating analysis of the American economy and its interaction with democracy. He surveys the change that has occured in our capitalist economy from the 1940's to the present day and how that has changed our democracy. He begins the book by discussing the "Not Quite So Golden Age" of the late 1940's to the early 1970's. During this time period certain industries were regulated as monopolies by the government, while other industries(in conjunction with the government) regulated themselves. He called these huge corporations oligopolies. These large companies worked with government and labor in order to benefit the nation as a whole. Making a profit was only one of their concerns. Hence, the provided good wages, comfortable retirement packages and insurance for their workers. However, Reich makes sure to mention that not every group benefited fully from this system. African Americans and women were routinely denied their full share in this system. Reich then goes on to discuss changes in technology that allowed corportations to be more competitive and hence provide higher quality, lower priced goods to consumers. As a result, consumers continued to look for the best deal possible forcing companies to find ways cut costs and lower their prices. As a result of this process, workers have lost decent wages and retirement packages. Large corporations are now more concerned with making a profit for their investors than looking out for the general good of society. Reich also mentions that, through lobbying and huge monetary donations, corporations have the ears politicans of both parties. Hence, lessing the effect and advocacy power of citizen groups such as evironmentalists and labor unions. This has lead to a decline in citizen power in government. Reich goes on to discuss the dangers of such a situation and how we as Americans can help change the trend of diminished citizen power and influence in our government due to the effects of supercapitalism. This book is a must read for all American citizens.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

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    A novel explanation for corporate dominance of politics

    Over the weekend, I finished reading Supercapitalism, by Robert Reich. The main thesis is that corporate interests dominate politics because the hyper-competitive new age of capitalism has brought with it an increase in companies trying to gain an edge from the government. Reich uses the term ¿supercapitalism¿ to designate the increase in competition that has been the result of deregulation and a growing number of businesses in the same space that have occurred since the 1970s. The results of this competition have been lower prices for consumers and higher returns for investors. This result is what we would expect, since, as Reich notes quoting Milton Friedman, ¿the business of business is business.¿<BR/><BR/>Reich concludes that corporations can, and should, do no other. In order to survive in the age of supercapitalism, businesses must do everything in their power to both provide lower prices for consumers and high returns for investors. One such tactic involves ensuring favorable legislation for both their company and their industry as a whole. There are many ways to accomplish this goal, including bundling campaign donations and lobbying. Conventional wisdom tells us that politicians ignore popular groups and pander to corporations because they finance their elections campaigns and have more power. However, Reich argues that the real problem is that the growing influence of businesses in politics is drowning out the voices of other interests. Businesses can spend large sums of money on lobbying, etc to ensure that their voices are heard on the Hill. On the other hand, small non-profits have limited budgets and are unable to compete for the stage with the corporate interests. As a result, much legislation tends to support large businesses since it is their arguments which politicians are hearing. In other words, progressive voices are not loud enough to shout over the corporate clamor.<BR/><BR/>Most of the book focuses on the arguments for these claims. Reich also addresses possible ways to solve the problem. Overall, I think it is a very interesting and different idea of why our politics are currently dominated by corporate interests. Anyone who recognizes this should read this book to understand one potentially way to explain the problem.

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    Posted November 27, 2008

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    Posted December 7, 2008

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    Posted March 17, 2009

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